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Energising Retail

October 17, 2017

 

 

The 12th InternetRetailing & eDelivery Conference took place last week in London; billed as ‘Energising Retail’ Retail Reflections’ Founder Andrew Busby went along to soak up some energy!

 

I joined over 1,000 retail executives who converged on Hammersmith last week to attend the first joint InternetRetailing Conference (IRC) and eDelivery Conference (EDC) at London’s Novotel West.

 

Focusing on educating top level retailers, the Conference focused on best practice and strategy to meet the ever growing and evolving needs and expectations of today’s demanding, always connected consumer.

 

And one thing became clear; the same challenges are facing every retailer whether online, stores or both – how to create the best, most effective and (for the sake of margins!) most efficient delivery and returns network.

 

I’ve attended many retail conferences so far during 2017 and this trend is rapidly emerging:

 

"Delivery, returns and final mile fulfilment are now at the very heart of a retail brand’s Customer Experience"

 

In today’s on demand gig economy, the demands placed on a retailers supply chain to deliver whenever, wherever are rapidly increasing.

 

And expectation, fuelled by the most recent great delivery experience, is in danger of outstripping the retailers capability to meet those expectations, let alone exceed them.

 

Although the material may not have been brand new, it is always good to hear from Google and their thoughts on the state of the nation.

 

With my IBM Futurist hat never far from sight, it resonated with me to hear them discussing the central role which Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning are now playing and how this technology is reshaping the retail landscape.

 

1 billion photos are uploaded to Google every day; without AI it would be impossible to be able to interpret all this data.

 

Personalisation is never far from the lips of most speakers at retail conferences these days and so it proved at IRC.

 

And there’s a very good reason why.

 

According to Walker, by 2020 Customer Experience will overtake price and product as the key brand differentiator.

 

In today’s retail world, as consumers we expect, no - demand - a truly personalised experience. And that doesn’t mean the clunky retrospective personalisation we have become accustomed to.

 

In a recent survey by Tech Pro Research, only 28 percent of respondents, most of whom were in IT leadership positions, said they have first hand experience with AI or machine learning.

 

Somewhat worryingly, the only way to create truly personalised experiences is by using AI and machine learning.

 

Plenty of progress still to be made!

 

But is wasn’t just the technology which was on display at IRC, in a great session from consulting firm Emrays, we heard how our emotions have a central role in our consumer behaviour and in our relationship with brands – something central to the work we are doing here at Retail Reflections.

 

More and more, it will be this emotional attachment which defines the relationship we have with retail brands.

 

“Rational feelings generate interest, while emotional feelings are the ultimate driver for making the buying decision” Emrays.

 

For me, three things neatly summed up the conference – a great checklist for retailers:

  • Invest in artificial intelligence technology as this will be at the very heart of your business very soon;

to

  • Use this technology to deliver an amazing personalised customer experience focused on generating emotional brand attachment;

and

  • Make sure the supply chain is central to the operation and included in the above so that goods are delivered whenever and wherever your customer wants.

It will be fascinating to check in again this time next year to see how much progress has been made.

 

 

Andrew Busby is a Keynote Speaker & Analyst, Founder & CEO of Retail Reflections and an IBM Futurist

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