Our top five retail industry insights from Copenhagen
One of the most insightful industry events of the year, Shoptalk brings together the best of retail, fashion, and tech to iron out where we’re headed—and how we get there. Here’s what we learned, and what you can expect to hear a lot more about in the coming months:
Stores are not dead
Hudson’s Bay CEO Gerald Storch reminded us that today’s omni-channel or “new retail” experiences allow for more than 100 possible paths to purchase, and four out of five of those paths call for shoppers to visit a brick-and-mortar location. From walk-in traffic to showrooming to click-and-collect, offline brand interactions can (and do) drive sales across every channel. And while e-commerce typically remains top of mind for retailers and fashion brands, physical stores may be more important than ever—as long as they’re a part of a larger, holistic strategy for unique customer experiences.
Back to basics: Black is the new black
Remember the days when shopping malls were the place to be? How about the milkman era, when dairy showed up right on your doorstep? Today’s focus on modern retail experiences that include food, entertainment, fitness, convenience, and, of course, shopping, is actually spawning the next generation of customer experiences—and they’re sure to be reminiscent of those we already know, and once loved. The difference is this time around, they’ll be bigger, better, and built to last. Or as Shoptalk Europe retweeted from our own @mattgunn: “Hearing lots at #shoptalkeurope about these retail centers, where stores/restaurants/experiences all coexist. Just don’t call it a mall.”
The retail sharing economy
Smart retailers are increasingly entering their own versions of a “sharing economy,” collaborating with other retailers and brands to share customer data, real estate, and partners. And while it may seem counterintuitive to essentially partner up with the competition, the value of combined customer data is totally worth the tradeoff. Plus, by sharing physical space, new customer acquisition is a profitable side effect for everyone involved.
AI, AI, AI. Did we mention AI?
ICYMI, if there’s one point that Shoptalk Europe drove home it’s this: The internet is a great place to buy, not a great place to shop. But artificial intelligence is changing that. The computing power of AI can help retailers learn each customer’s unique behavior and desires to serve up unprecedented personal shopping experiences; and with so many customers in so many markets on so many devices, AI is the unmistakable key to personalization at scale. But in and of themselves, AI chatbots can only go so far. As representatives from tech giants like Google, Amazon, and eBay discussed, the next frontier in artificial intelligence is understanding context and intent – the what and why behind customer interactions.
Conversational commerce is the new retail reality
At Shoptalk Europe, we learned that by 2020, 50% of searches will be commanded by voice. These types of searches are being dubbed “conversational commerce,” and understanding how your customer shops for products using voice, emojis, text, touch, chat, and images will be essential for retail success in the coming months and years. This fluid, human-centric commerce style shortens the path to purchase, and removes the burden of navigating through endless aisles from the customer—so retailers who aren’t investing in chatbots, AI, and search technologies will most certainly be left behind.
Tagged: AI, CX, machine learning, omni-channel, Shoptalk Europe, supply chain, UK retail