After Party in the Park where Shoptalk let its collective hair down yesterday evening, it was an early start for day two and what a way to kick things off.
Here at Software AG we listen intently to what the experts have to say about the future of retail so you can imagine that one track especially caught my eye. Because it’s not every day that you get to hear about the forces shaping retail in 2022 from not only Bain & Company but also Boston Consulting Group and NielsenIQ.
Enough of the teasing, so what are those forces likely to shape retail in 2022?
First up was Aaron Cheris from Bain & Company who discussed the impact of sustainability on the sector. Not only that, he argued that “those retailers who embrace traceability will operate on a different performance curve”. Also saying that retailers who can “see” across their end-to-end value chain will drive higher revenue growth, lower costs, increase market share, see better returns on investment and deliver improved stakeholder returns. So, there are many reasons to embrace sustainability initiatives.
Next up was Lauren Weiner from Boston Consulting Group who shared her thoughts on why retailers need to become media organisations. But in order to do so they need to build the right platform in order to compete.
It was left to Lorelei Bergin from NielsenIQ to cover the third force shaping retail this year, namely inflation. And one of the insights she shared was that this is going to impact the relationship between retailers and their customers. As the latter’s behaviour shifts through necessity, she argued that this will leave retailers ‘scrambling’ but that technology will bridge the gap.
And her top takeaway from all of this? Lead with data in order to help retailers understand their customers and their behavioural shifts.
Digital used to be an outpost for the store – a nice little business – and now the store is a critical component of any digital strategyHarvey Bierman, Chief Digital Officer, Christy Sports
For me, one of the more intriguing topics at Shoptalk was the opportunity retail has with the metaverse. And although several sessions were devoted to the subject, there was also more than a whiff of irony in the air.
To a man and woman, everyone I spoke to at the conference said how delighted they were to be back ‘in real life’ and this was echoed by the organisers. But at the same time, speaker after speaker hailed the metaverse as ‘the next big thing’ for retail. So, which one is it? Physical or virtual or can we have both?
Now, before I go any further, I need to come clean. Back in the early nineties I was one of those who declared that the internet was a place to watch porn and learn how to make a bomb and that was about it. And of course, my insight proved spectacularly inaccurate.
So, when discussing the metaverse I’m reminded of that. However, when many retailers are still grappling with their cloud strategy (let alone AI adoption and data management) it seems that encouraging them to embrace the metaverse might land on slightly deaf ears.
But there again, what do I know?