Trends from Shoptalk Europe
Shoptalk Europe rolled into town last week, with the exhibition hall and keynote speakers highlighting some of the hottest technology-driven trends in the retail sector including personalisation, the building-out of eco-systems, autonomous delivery, and rich shopper engagement.
By Glynn Davis
Having long ago pioneered the first self-service solutions and being the first grocer to introduce home delivery for online food orders Ahold Delhaize is now focused on bringing its various retail brands much closer together in order to create the best customer ecosystem across these operating businesses.
Frans Muller, CEO of Ahold Delhaize, says the company is “connecting our food and non-food brands for the convenience of the customer”, which will include linking their accounts and connecting loyalty card and subscriptions, providing an easy check-out across the channels, and combining delivery and returns processes.
There are also plans to create a joint retail media services operation that will help the company implement the intended cross-banner promotions, events and joint loyalty programmes. Within logistics he says: “The dream will be to combine food and non-food on one truck. It’s complex and logistically a huge challenge but we have people working on it.”
Developing logistics capabilities is also on the agenda of Alibaba Group where Roland Palmer, general manager of UK, Belgium, Netherlands & Nordics at Alibaba Group, acknowledged how the last mile is the “bane” of retailers delivering online orders to customers: “It’s expensive and inefficient so we’ve been looking at robots.”
The solution for Alibaba is autonomous logistics robot Xiaomanlv that has been developed in-house and is able to deliver 50 packages at a time as it travels up to 100 kilometres on a single charge. “In China we’re running out of delivery people and these [robots] are great for the environment. Last year 10 million packages were delivered using them.”
Another major success in China for the company is livestreaming on its Taobao shopping platform where 660 million consumers participate and deliver a high conversion rate for merchants. An incredible 17 years of content is created every 24 hours, with the key categories fashion and beauty enjoying as much as 15% more engagement than social media within Europe where Palmer says there is a “test and learn” phase currently taking place. Interestingly the key age for livestreaming is around the 30-year-old grouping.
“All companies should get going and be part of creating the livestreaming ecosystem. For brand engagement, brands love it as it enables them to get up close and personal with consumers,” says Palmer, adding that marketplaces including Taobao are forecast to grow 15% per year. “They are here to stay as they are a great choice for consumers and also for brands who can reach all these customers [with a current 1.3 billion Alibaba customers],” he suggests.
At the heart of the ecosystem for fashion shopping platform Lyst is its app with Chris Morton, CEO of Lyst, suggesting it is the best way to deliver a high level of personalisation and richer engagement for its customers who can access numerous department stores, boutiques and fashion brands from the platform.
“Most people’s first engagement is with the app, which is different to other companies where an app is typically for loyal customers. It’s all about the frequency of usage with apps. Once a year usage then there is no point having one but if it’s daily, weekly, monthly then an app makes most sense,” he says.
Enriching the content
To ensure the engagement is meaningful the Lyst on-boarding process involves asking customers certain questions and then using algorithms to determine products according to people’s tastes. This is refined over time as people use the app more. Discovery is also a major aspect of Lyst: “People discover things through contextualised content. We tell stories around the products.”
Such is the relationship Lyst has with many brands that it now works closely with them sharing data and insights. “The data part of the business is increasing in importance. Brands come to us for information and we are able to help them build their brands. They spend their budgets with us,” says Morton.
The ability to determine trends is one of the strong suits of the company and enables it to cut through some of the “niche cottage trends” that are often created fleetingly on the likes of TikTok and instead focus on more sustainable fashion trends with brand owners.
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