Our roundup of the Retail Week ‘Tech’ event
September 20, 2017
Attended by some of the biggest names in the industry, the recent ‘Tech.’ event invited retail’s leading disruptors to share their work, insights, and perspectives, on the technologies that will power the future. Taking place in one of London’s most exciting spaces (the Olympic Park), it was one of Europe’s largest festivals of tech, and with such a wide variety of topics and speakers, we were proud to sponsor the two day gathering.
The line-up of influential speakers ranged from retailers such as Tesco, ASOS and Shop Direct, through to Microsoft, Google, TrainLine and Skyscanner. Throughout the event they discussed the hot topics of Artificial Intelligence (AI), Blockchain, evolving tech-savvy customers, disruptive technologies and the future of data-driven decisions, and shared how these developments are influencing their businesses and what forthcoming developments may bring.
Particularly prominent areas of discussion included AI and machine learning. It was highlighted how, although AI and machine learning can be hard to put in place initially, once it’s been implemented and the customer finds they can trust the results provided, the benefits for both customer and retailer are significant. Take for example, how the modern household is used to using systems such as Alexa or Google Assistant to add items to their shopping lists, and is confident that the item will not only be added, but also be their preferred brand, size etc. Whilst the customer sees the benefit to their experience, retailers are armed with data that can help them to create personalised offers and suggest other items based on similar shoppers and their associated items.
Despite the humble shopping list being a simple example, this familiarity with AI and machine learning is driving a transformation in customer and retailer experience. The speakers at the event observed how the opportunity to use AI, machine learning, Internet of Things (IoT) and more, to add choice, convenience and speed to retailing is already well underway, and moving at a fast pace. From allowing customers to ‘see’ how a new piece of furniture would look in their room before they purchase it, to snapping a picture of clothing on their smart device and having an app identify it and suggest retailers with it in stock – there are many new initiatives emerging that will change retail as we know it.
Some other key takeaways included:
- Customer centricity is key for retail success. More than ever customers are expecting an easy shopping experience and quality products. In order to support this and rise to customer demands, retailers are utilising technology modules to help them keep track of their speed to market, quality control procedures, compliance audits, stock control, deliveries and overall product processes.
- Blockchain technology will soon become a common method of supplier payment. With the ability to pay suppliers in real time, based on real outputs, retailers using Blockchain technology have found their suppliers to be inspired to produce products as quickly, and to as high a quality as possible. This is helping retailers increase the speed of the overall supply chain, maintain good relationships with their suppliers and helps meet customer expectations.
- Owning and using data is key to being able to control and expand a market place. Even in the most creative industries, such as fashion retail, numerical data is instrumental in creating designs that are customised for their market.
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Now our buyers can exchange photographs with suppliers and have a real-time dialogue as they develop styles, while buyers out in the Far East can send detailed and accurate information back to their teams in the UK. It has certainly cut lead times and reduced errors.Maxine Walter, supply chain co-ordination manager, New Look
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