What is it about conferences that draws people? To learn about emerging trends? To make acquaintances and build a network? To feel inspired? To travel to an exciting location? To me it’s a little bit of everything – from building a network to feeling inspired about a brand new idea that could change the world.
STORE 2017 was one of the first conferences I have attended. Hosted by the Retail Council of Canada, the two-day event in Toronto catered to some very good speakers across different genres in the retail industry.
As a newbie to the payments industry but a native of mobile and social media, I was intrigued to see what the conference had to offer and it did not disappoint!
We all know the power of technology. The evolution of retail has been anything but linear. Rapidly changing customer behavior, changing needs and expectations, and the effect of technology has pushed the boundaries of traditional retail. As new trends emerge, the retail industry needs to adapt or risk losing out on both revenue and customer base.
Here are some of my key learnings from the event:
- Dealing with people disruption is harder than digital disruption. You have to get comfortable doing uncomfortable things. Smart incrementalism is leap-frogging and breaking the status quo.
- The future of retail is not in terms of the channel but the customer– who they are, how they shop and a brand’s ability to provide a seamless experience irrespective of how, why, and where their customers engage. The struggle between brick and mortar stores and online shopping is not one of divide and conquer but one of unite and delight!
- Differentiation is innovation – imagine 3D printing things in outer space, robots helping fulfill customer expectations, or using augmented reality to help with your kitchen project.
- The rise of the anytime, anywhere customer has changed the way retailers are driving businesses – eliminate friction by adopting and offering new mobile payment technologies and the convenience of shopping online to maintain competitive advantage.
- Customer segmentation based on demographics or purchase history is no longer enough – digital transformation requires a deeper understanding of consumer behavior. Innovative technologies such as machine learning and advanced analytics help offer a more personalized, interactive, and a sensory experience.
- 1 out of 2 transactions are mobile, it is safe to say that this is the end of “the beginning of m-commerce”. M-commerce has arrived.
- Amazon has changed the landscape of shopping online and in-store while conventional retailers are still trying to work out the omni-channel experience.
- Conversational commerce (chatbot, social media platform) is engineering the future of retail.
Duncan Fulton, President of FGL Sports, said that we are living in the most disruptive years in the history of retail and I could not agree more. There has never been a better time for innovation and growth if you are brave enough to embrace it.