It was a pleasure to attend one of the UK Retail Sectors most prestigious events, Retail Week Live, where retailers can learn about the latest developments, trends and opportunities in order to keep up with what is now becoming a fast-changing industry, that is in both a state or turmoil and opportunity.
This year it was held at the O2 Intercontinental, with the venue being outstanding in both its location and quality of service. The exhibition hall was spacious and well-appointed with a layout that reflected the attendees need to learn and network as well as providing the opportunity to visit sponsor stands and discover new products and services that can enhance their services.
The organisers certainly raised the bar with the quality of logistics, and attention to attendees’ comfort during the event. Delegates were met with delightful treats, such as freshly made mini doughnuts, (kindly sponsored by Hitachi Capital), canapes with a selection of teas & coffees to keep you sharp for the day ahead.
The conference was very on-point with recent developments in retail, from how the role of the store is changing in today’s ever evolving market where Sue Carvell, Commercial Director at Kath Kidston emphasised that retailers need to engage customers as individuals with a more personalised approach both online and in-store.
Other topics covered ranged from; ‘Instant Gratification – Balancing consumer convenience and experience’. and ‘Can you put the customer in control of their purchasing experience?’ and ‘How is diversity and inclusion driving business outcomes?’ Keynotes were also on-point and inspiring. From the opening Keynote – A retail perspective on both thriving, and surviving in 2019 with Judith McKenna , Chief Executive Officer – Walmart International where the challenges of the years ahead were discussed, to Are you ready for Gen Alpha? with Carla Buzasi, Managing Director – WGSN who discussed Understanding and predicting consumer behaviour and how it’s changing faster than ever before and what we can expect from the next generation of spenders – Gen Alpha. With too many speakers and panellists to mention here, the two days were such a feast of inspiration and knowledge sharing, that I’m sure every attendee had to have gained and benefitted from the shared experiences, which will no doubt help them with their own challenges.
At intervals delegates we’re treated to a wide selection of beautiful and delicious cakes courtesy of Lola’s Cupcakes, who were also showcasing their ‘Amazon style’ chilled cake collection cabinets, with some located in traditional red telephone boxes in Hampstead and Greenwich! If that wasn’t enough, you could get your nails treated courtesy of London Grace, and a full beauty treatment with Ruuby, and for the gentlemen Truefitt and Hill, Barbers to the Royals and celebrities were on hand to give you a professional cut and trim, followed by a professional shoe shine courtesy of Ted Baker London.
The conference seemed very focussed on how retailers can return to the days when customers experience was key, and how to return to that using technology to connect with them on an individual level. Online personalisation is very advanced, but the challenge with the larger physical store market, is how to achieve that in-store, with data being key, but also translating that into an omnichannel consumer engagement. With so many competitors and options available both online and offline, customers are becoming ever more sophisticated in their approach to shopping, creating an ongoing challenge for all retailers who are constantly having to adapt or join the many recent high street casualties.
On the theme of connecting with people, the organisers excelled at making everyone feel welcome and ‘looked after’, thank you.
Paul Kelson, Ecommerce Consultant on behalf of the Ecommerce Club