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Review (part two): The Retail Conference

Hardly any other sector is experiencing changes as strongly as today’s retail industry, which has undergone a significant transformation over the past decade and the pandemic… View Article

COMMENTARY

Review (part two): The Retail Conference

Hardly any other sector is experiencing changes as strongly as today’s retail industry, which has undergone a significant transformation over the past decade and the pandemic and, it continues to evolve quickly.

This message of change was clear at The Retail Conference 2022. Change is the new paradigm. Retailers need to adapt to current trends to keep a seat at the table.

Tomorrows consumer… and the future of ecommerce

Kate Ancketill shared some interesting examples of of how retailers are adopting ‘alternative commerce’ and the metaverse as perhaps the 3rd channel in retail, outside of online and physical bricks-and-mortar. “The metaverse provides tools of engagement that are very appealling and appropriate to that massive young generation – gen z and alphas – who are going to be half the worlds population in only 8 years. They will also have more spending power than boomers and millennials combined.”

This ethos is echoed by research from Garner who predict ‘”By 2026, 25% of people will spend at least 1h a day in the Metaverse for work, shopping, education, social and or entertainment.”

As we move to the future, retailers now need to prepare for a world where consumers expect shopping to be social, gamified, inclusive. We are shifting to time where experience takes priority over product.

Moving forward in a connected way.

The path to success today hinges on adapting; retailers slow to embrace technological change will be left behind. Retailers need to assess how to use new technologies to serve their customers’ needs and gain efficiency (e.g., how will technology help to gain efficiency effects, generate higher revenue, enhance the customer experience, and so on?).

Legacy retailers are fighting back. Hard. And large organisations are working to break down silo’s and be more agile. According to Harpreet Cheema, Head of Workplace Services at Sodexo, they are “launching innovation hubs and looking to startup businesses to inspire them.”

Dr Edda Blumenstein, Director of Director of Customer & Retailing Transformation, at BYKO has a PHD in omnichannel innovation. “If you want to be disruptive, you have to look to the future. First, you need a vision of where you want to go but remember, change requires a cultural shift”

Break through the noise

With the move to digital over the last decade, consumers are spending more and more time on their phones and various digital channels. This makes it much easier to access the consumer, but there is also a lot more noise. Brands are trying to figure out the right way to break through that noise and develop a relationship with the consumer.

When it comes to the role of technology, Andy Letting, Group Apps & Retention Lead for Kingfisher Group says it’s imperative to “keep it simple, relevant and intuitive’.

Dirk Lubbers, Leisure & Hospitality Expert for Pilsner Experiences agrees: “We need to tailor the experiences to the customer.”

So, what is the future of the High Street?

Attracting the next generation of shoppers, in particular the tech natives, to physical stores will continue to be a challenge for brick-and-mortar retailers.

Retailers are looking for ways to make physical stores more attractive to consumers now accustomed to the convenience of online shopping. “The exposure to good ecommerce has set the scene for how high streets should opperate,” says Robert Kulawik, Chief Operating Officer, Everything5pounds.com.

Rowland Gee, Retail Veteran and author believes “there is no shortage of good retailers wanting to get on to the high street and the high street play and important role in human connections. Unfortunatly these new retailers are often held back by the landlord and tenant act. More needs to be done.”

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