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Remaking Retail '18; A wrap up

Recently I attended the Digiday Hot Topics event from Digital + Technology Collective. I have to say there was some excellent speakers with interesting points of view on Digital and Retail, with Amazon launching this could not have been timelier and I found every segment valuable in understanding what is next for Australian retail?

Many topics were talked about but topics that kept swimming to the surface were: the customer wanting more meaningful conversations with brands, excellent customer experience cannot be sacrificed (experiences in general are key) and technology as an enabler, not the be all and end all.

A need for brands to understand their customer is evident to allow for better experiences and conversations but also aid immersion. Interestingly, an acknowledgement of the future marriage of offline and online was discussed in the retail space, this I personally welcome as I believe the customer is channel agnostic, as long as the experience is relevant and timely to the customer need. This means that need for bricks and mortar stores is not obsolete in a digital world but customer experience is what will drive purchase, customers will engage with digital but that human touch is not to be underestimated. The two need to find a way to compliment and emulate one another.

In an effort to make conversations from brands more meaningful to the customer it is not that technology or digital is the answer, but merely the enabler in the future of retail. Emerging technologies such as voice are widely talked about and allows an interesting shift in the purchasing dynamic. After all, voice enables the ability for products to be presented to customer without necessarily proactively searching. Knowing the customer and offering them solutions to their problem at that point in time is key but voice is merely the enabler to do this.

Whether you believe your business is, B2B, B2C or B2..whatever, the truth is it is B2P, the P being person, and people like experiences. A famous quote springs to mind from the late, great Maya Angelou “People may not remember exactly what you did, or what you said, but they will always remember how you made them feel.” A great experience should not be sacrificed for the sake of transaction.

A company who is truly nailed this is Alibaba and I found their segment the most inspiring. Truly immersive experiences via digital devices and physical stores. Simply fascinating, the introduction of gamification into the retail channel was compelling. Although the adoption of this is mostly attune to the Chinese market for those of you who visited the Alibaba pop-up activation in Chatswood last week it is extremely interesting to see the potential of this marriage of digital and physical in the retail space. Using AR and VR to try on clothes or cosmetics, using an app to recommend and suggest items for the home based on previous purchases. This idea if “know me” and offer me a relevant experience based on my tastes is appealing and brings shopping to the forefront as an experience despite how you like to purchase. One simply compliments the other.

A fabulous event and I for one am extremely excited to see the immersion of the retail space in Australia. The future is here, and I cannot wait! I’m looking forward to the next Hot Topic event on June 19th Sydney and June 21st Melbourne.

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