Event Preview: Restaurant & Bar Tech Live

Restaurant & Bar Tech Live will be hitting London’s ExCeL on the 19th and 20th November, and Retail Connections is delighted to be a media partner of the event.

At Retail Connections, we recognise that retail and hospitality go hand in hand. This is why we’re proud to be working with the organisers to highlight the importance of the two industries joining forces to share ideas, inspire, inform and together scope out opportunities for future growth.

The much-anticipated 2019 event is free to attend. Delegates will have access to the hottest new tech trends in hospitality. The ExCeL exhibition space will become the ultimate forum for learning about business growth and finding the tools needed to secure success for years to come.

Restaurant & Bar Tech Live

Designed to inspire ambitious industry professionals with an appetite for technology, the show’s  line-up is sure to arm you with all the systems, gadgets, and gizmos needed to build brand, boost profits and attract new customers.

Why attend Restaurant & Bar Tech Live?
  • There will be over 300 cutting-edge suppliers
  • It’s a chance to engage in 200 educational seminars
  • You can benefit from 1-2-1 business advice
  • You can cultivate invaluable new contacts
  • You can get involved in live demos
  • …. and so much more.

This year’s expo runs alongside five other industry-leading events, collectively forming #FES19  – billed as the biggest business growth event for the world of food and drink.

Restaurant & Bar Tech Live

19th & 20th November 2019 – ExCeL, London

To register for your free ticket simply head over to www.restauranttechlive.co.uk




Six things I learned at eTail Connect

eTail Connect, of which there are two a year, is a hybrid event, combining presentations from retailers and tech companies, and formal meetings between both, fixed in advance, so removing the lottery element of trade exhibitions. This is where both parties get to spend some time together and understand each other’s challenges. And the challenges are significant for both parties, so it makes sense to share rather than pretend they are not real, aside from Brexit and other distractions from business as usual.

The hard truth is that there has been so much powerful technology available capable of solving almost every problem retailers are facing but, at the same time, so little disposable cash to pay for it. While we read all the comforting figures about how IT spend continues to rise, the truth is, most retailers can probably only afford 20-30% of everything they need, given that up to 70% is already committed at any one time.

Validation, relationships, a longer but more structured sales cycle and extensive proofs of concept are the new normal in tech sales.

Here are the five things I learned at eTail Connect, aimed at retailers

  1. The UK was once a proud trading nation, but after October 31 it will have turned its back on all that. For those who believe that this is a good thing, let me tell you about all the retailers that have either delayed or cancelled their overseas plans because of it – less investment, lower sales, less employment and lower tax revenues. Well done Brexiteers!
  2. Retailers can benefit from spending more time with tech vendors because the latter has one major unique – breadth; they work across multiple retail businesses and therefore have insight that no one retailer has
  3. Talk to people who disagree with you; that’s how you learn. Cosying up to people who agree with you is no way to confront the slings and arrows coming your way after Brexit
  4. Find projects that enable all the stakeholders to work together. Retailers generally operate in silos, often with different objectives, cultures and KPIs, so getting them together for an entire project that involves open heart surgery on the business is almost certainly not achievable. So, pick things that are easy to get done and do not involve stakeholders in too much work
  5. Decide whether you really need to develop solutions in house. Retail feels like it is polarising between companies that describe themselves as retailers or as tech companies. This has led to some wanting to develop more and more solutions in-house, claiming that what they want is not available in the open market. Some never get around to it, whilst others manage it but then find that the plumbing is not up to integrating it. This is a trend that will work itself out, but right now, it does not appear that in-house development is having much success
  6. Think about whether your customers have an emotional connection with your brand. If all they think about is price, then you had better hope you have volume distribution and distinct USPs over your competitors, like Primark. But if you are fashion brand, you will want to try and understand why Apple’s customers are so fiercely loyal to a product that is basically just a piece of hand-held tech

This week’s retail in numbers

We round up the numbers hitting the headlines in retail this week – from rampant retail return rates to our obsession with smartphones:










Between the sheets: Bed retailer Dreams wakes up digital ambitions

Dreams, the leading specialist bed retailer, has stepped up its ambitions to revolutionise its omnichannel capabilities and digitally transform its store estate.

Founded in 1985, Dreams is now the UK’s largest specialist bed retailer, selling 10,000 mattresses, bases and headboards each week through its 200-strong nationwide store estate and ecommerce platform.  Since its launch, the bed brand has proudly continued to manufacture all its products in the UK at its Dreams Bed Factory in Oldham.

Dreams recognised the need to integrate its sales channels to better meet the needs of customers at each stage of their buying journey, whether it was online or in-store – something its disparate legacy systems were no longer able to sufficiently deliver.

The solution from Envoy Digital, which will be implemented via the SAP Hybris Commerce platform, brings together the siloed offline and online customer journeys into a single unified journey, affording Dreams a 360-degree view of the customer.  This will enable Dreams’ sales teams to drive enhanced interactions with its customers, while delivering shoppers more seamless omnichannel experiences, no matter which channel they engage with the brand in.

Mike Logue, CEO of Dreams, commented: “At the moment our business is very separate – from customers operating with us online to a customer being looked after by our store teams.  The solution will totally change the way our business operates.  A 360-degree view of the customer will enable us to follow that buying journey all the way through and allow for greater interaction for all our store teams with the customer.  This means all of our 200 stores will turn into ‘digital stores’ and, instead of talking about online sales and offline sales, all our sales will become ‘digital sales’.”

“This is a significant initiative for our business, and it’s important that we futureproof ourselves.  We all know the world – and retail – is changing at such a rapid rate, even without all the digital changes that are taking place, and we need to keep up with that.  The solution for us is all about the future – that Dreams is futureproofed for a number of years ahead,” Logue concluded.

A look inside Lulu Guinness’ tech tool kit

Luxury accessories brand, Lulu Guinness, has improved dwell times and conversion rates with a new ecommerce platform and website after the brand identified its digital proposition as a key growth driver.

Founded in 1989, the brand’s sophisticated silhouettes, humorous embellishments and adventurous accessories have become cult favourites around the world.  The brands central motif, the distinctive Dali-esque lips clutch, has transported Surrealist art into mainstream popular culture. With multiple stores, including a main store at St Christopher’s Place near Bond Street, London, online is becoming increasingly important to Lulu Guinness with more than a third of business turnover coming from digital channels.

However, the legacy site did not have the functionality necessary to allow the brand to achieve their full sales and branding potential within the UK and abroad. In 2018 Lulu Guinness partnered with Astound Commerce who replatformed the business to Salesforce Commerce Cloud and redesigned the site, immersing customers into the world of Lulu Guinness while providing an informative, simple and streamlined purchasing process. The overhaul has seen online conversion rates increase by +4% YOY.

A key reason for moving to a Salesforce Commerce Cloud was to bring more content onto the website to facilitate the customer journey for people who are new to the site and continue to increase dwell time and engagement.

With an increasing proportion of traffic to the site coming directly from social media, and more of these visits converting into sales, social has been given a prominent role onsite with a page dedicated to social media content including user generated content (UGC) to showcase how customers can wear or style a product, through the #HowDoYouLulu hashtag, and linked Instagram shop.

Event preview: Savant eCommerce London Conference

Customer experience (CX), digital transformation and data-driven digital commerce – just some of the hot topics being addressed at this year’s Savant eCommerce London Conference.

Taking place on 17th and 18th September at Skyloft, Millbank Tower in London SW1, this is an unmissable opportunity for senior ecommerce professionals to learn, network and build meaningful relationships.

Now in its 6th year, the 2019 conference will focus on ‘cultivating end-to-end growth in ecommerce’, with an agenda specially designed to be forward thinking and innovative. An advisory panel of ecommerce experts from Staples, Coca-Cola, Butlers, PVH and Ikea helped curate the event, to ensure a practical, commercial, international focus is adhered to.

Who will be there?

Attendees will hail from the ecommerce pure play market, as well as from omnichannel retailers across Europe. Top level speakers and industry leading executives will take to the stage to discuss the latest trends. Don’t miss:

  • Louisa Nicholls, Senior Digital Trading Manager, John Lewis
  • Melissa Weston, Marketing Lead UK & IE, Zalando
  • Jean Roth, Head of eCommerce Applications Management, Hugo Boss

Retail Connections is delighted to be a supporting media partner of Savant eCommerce London.  The event is also being partnered by leading lights in the retail technology scene – BounceX, Stuart, Yotpo, Optimizely, AB Tasty, ParcelLab, Contentsquare and Napse, to name a few.

What’s on the agenda at Savant eCommerce London?

It’s clear that the UK market is currently associated with dynamics such as volatility, disruption, and declining confidence and spending. As a result, there is a heightened sense of urgency to drive profitability. These conditions present an opportunity to brands and retailers to reassess, reinvigorate and streamline their end-to-end eCommerce proposition.

Over two days, speakers and delegates will be exploring what can be optimised across the customer journey to improve both customer experience and profitability under these changing market dynamics.

Data-driven successes

On the first day the aim is to share inspiration on the ‘small wins’ created by data-driven personalisation and conversion optimisation along the customer journey.

On the second day there will be a chance to look at the bigger picture, identifying the opportunities that the changing market dynamics in the UK are creating.

“Here, we will delve into the collision of online and offline and how to redefine what profitability of eCommerce looks like under this new norm,” say the organisers at Savant Events. ”We will also look at how brands and retailers can expand their ownership and control of the value chain through data-driven strategies, value-driven consumption and service-based added value.”

Savant eCommerce London takes place on 17th and 18th September

Skyloft at Altitude London, Millbank Tower, 21 – 24 Millbank, London, SW1P 4QP

Find the agenda and how to book here.

How can the personal touch in luxury retail be delivered on a global scale?

London Fashion Week this September (13th to 17th) will be celebrating industry best practice and encouraging fashion decision-makers to create positive change.

Sustainability is high on the agenda, and as ever leading brands will showcase their creativity and innovation, inspiring fashion fans around the world.

Celebrating global but local in fashion

Fashion brands are increasingly aware that they must be recognised globally, while also connecting meaningfully with their loyal customers locally. And they are turning to technology to make this possible.

Unified commerce technology experts at Cegid have produced a report examining the challenges currently faced by leading luxury brands, and setting out ways to bridge the service gaps by having a strong omnichannel foundation.

Global fashion and luxury brand shoppers seek out their favourite names no matter where in the world they happen to be.

Therefore luxury retailers must be able to recognise these customers and create an on-brand experience for them at every touch point. If a brand cannot reconcile all data points to one human being, how does it deliver a personalised experience and loyalty?

It comes down to technology. The vogue today is for retailers to have software systems in place that provide the visibility that underpins unified commerce. Nick Owens, IT Director at Orlebar Brown, the designer swimwear brand recognises this, saying: “Our customers are truly global travellers, so we want to make sure the shopping journey is as seamless as possible, delivering consistent customer experience.”

Tailored service at store level

Human interaction in store provides a unique opportunity for brand loyalty to be sealed. By leveraging technology sales assistants are given the time, space and tools to nurture each customer relationship at the individual level. The right solution can offer a different selling experience based on each shopper’s information.

With unified commerce IT capabilities, a wealth of customer insight — including product preferences, past purchase history and personal data — can be made available across the network. Fashion and luxury consumers’ wishes can be anticipated and fulfilled.

Ongoing relationships matter when it comes to fashion brands. With a fully-functioning unified commerce strategy, each time new information is entered, it can be immediately uploaded to the cloud, where it’s ready for the shopper’s next visit.

Customer data can be added this way across every channel and touchpoint. The end result is a connection that is maintained across every touch point to enhance the customer experience.

Cegid’s recent eBook, In the Luxury Universe: Focus on Global Proximity, Service and Selling Ceremony, explores exactly this. It examines how customer touchpoints can be managed to drive loyalty across channels and how optimising this needs to become a key business priority in luxury retailing.

To find out how to drive global brand loyalty with a strong omnichannel foundation, download Cegid’s new eBook:

In the Luxury Universe: Focus on Global Proximity, Service and Selling Ceremony


Event preview: ECOMMERCE EXPO 2019

After a record-breaking event last year, eCommerce Expo is taking place in central London on 25th – 26th September 2019. The event, in association with IMRG, is the must-attend event for everyone involved in B2B or B2C ecommerce.

Speakers from Pizza Hut, HelloFresh, River Island, Coty and Harrods– to name just a few – will provide a fantastic learning forum, giving attendees the chance to share ideas on data-driven insights, customer centricity, sustainable growth – and a whole lot more.

Show details

  • Wednesday 25th September
    Registration from 9:00am (doors 09:30 – 17:00)
  • Thursday 26th September
    Registration from 9:00am (doors 09:30 – 16:30)

What’s on the agenda this year and what can delegates hope to learn?

Extinction is a real threat in today’s ever-changing omnichannel ecommerce world. To survive, you must be agile, informed and inspired. eCommerce Expo 2019 is here to help you evolve and thrive. More than 300 leading suppliers, over 350 key speakers, across 6 theatres, 200+ hours of cutting-edge content – all attracting upwards of 15,000 delegates to an even bigger and more explosive event than ever before.

Access to incredible sessions in five dedicated ecommerce theatres covering topics such as Omnichannel, Cross Border, Delivery & Fulfilment, UX & CRO, Customer & Personalisation, Data-Driven Insights and so many more.

Reasons to attend

Your ticket is free of charge and offers you access to the UK’s leading eCommerce event! Make sure you get your ticket today!

Make sure you are there for the discussions that will shape the future of the industry, hear from the innovators and the leaders of eCommerce. Covering the talking points on the tip of your tongue – how to steer your business, what the future holds and what the pitfalls to avoid are.

Meet with over 300 of the world’s leading suppliers, across three shows, delivering services and solutions critical to your ecommerce strategy including Forter, HiPay, BigCommerce, Checkout.com, PFS, ShopifyPlus, Unbxd and many more!

Our sessions offer practical advice for you to take away and implement in your business, supporting your goals. We have dedicated sessions on data-driven insights, international expansion, sustainable growth, machine learning, robotics, B2B….

Meet with over 15,000 of your peers – this is the best opportunity to meet others who have faced and overcome similar challenges to you – don’t be the one who misses out by not being there!

For more information on the stellar line-up click here.

How to register

  • Telephone
    Call 020 3764 2070 or 020 73485769

Event preview: AI in Retail & Advertising Summit

The AI in Retail & Advertising Summit returns to Europe this September for its third year. The London-based event explores the crossover of AI and Retail, and expects to attract over 600 delegates eager to network and share ideas about how to benefit from deep learning and AI.

“AI applications in retail and advertising are being developed at a rapid pace, and industry professionals need to understand how to harness the technology to improve business performance and stay competitive,” says Luke Kenworthy, Marketing Executive at RE•WORK, the event organiser. “At the summit we’ll be covering the wide spectrum of AI advances that will increasingly impact retail and advertising – from stock level optimisation, to natural language processing for personalised shopping experiences, to algorithms for fraud detection.”

Who’s heading to the AI in Retail & Advertising Summit this year?

Attendees will include retail analysts, data scientists, retail operations professionals., CTOs, CEOs Directors of Innovation and advertising executives. And they’ll be representing some major retail businesses and global brands, including Wal-Mart, Asos, John Lewis, Urban Outfitters, Vodafone, Spotify, eBay and American Express.

Technology companies showcasing their strengths and know-how in this exciting sector include Cobalt Speech, Datatonic, Logikk, BigData Republic and Valohai.

We’re joining the AI discussion!

There are certainly many reasons to attend, and Retail Connections is delighted to be involved as a media partner. We’re looking forward to attending to picking up all the latest technical knowledge and application methods. With 90 speakers taking to the stages, and three tracks allowing delegates to dig deep into AI best practice and innovations, expertise will be on tap.

The RE•WORK AI in Retail & Advertising Summit promises to bring together leading innovators across industry, academia, retail and advertising. Speakers will share their most recent insights on technical advancements and retail applications, including computer vision, image analysis and targeted marketing.

Hot topics on the AI agenda

A range of topics will be explored, from inventory forecasting, stock level optimisation and natural language processing for personalised shopping experiences to fraud detection and computer vision for sizing efficiency.

How can deep learning shift the consumer experience and enable new ways of mastering customer needs and understanding consumers behaviour? This summit is a unique opportunity to interact with industry leaders, influential technologists, data scientists and founders leading the deep learning revolution.

Retail data science in the spotlight

Don’t miss these speakers at the AI in Retail & Advertising Summit

Chris Hughes, Machine Learning Engineer at Marks & Spencer

Dirk Petzoldt, Head of Engineering & Data Science, Zalando,

Andrea Picchi, Head of Experience Design, River Island

Sumanas Sarma, Machine Learning Engineer, Sainsbury’s Argos

See the full agenda and list of speakers here – bit.ly/2kqJ8Xx

Topics covered include:

  • Business Applications of AI
  • Personalised Shopping
  • Fraud Detection
  • Targeted Marketing
  • E-commerce Computer Vision
  • Inventory Forecasting
  • Dynamic Pricing

The AI in Retail & Advertising Summit takes place on 19th and 20th September in central London.

Retail Connections readers can save 25% with discount code ‘MPRETAILC’.


Is retail really ready to take advantage of data science?

Data scientists are clever people but they are a wasted investment unless the retail business is structured to take best advantage of them.

According to Retail Week research, three-quarters of UK retailers are planning to invest more in their data strategy, and while upskilling internal data teams is the number one priority for 74%, both purchasing external data and hiring data consultants also feature in their investment plans.

Some retailers understand that they need more help beyond simply recruiting or training resources; almost a quarter (24%) of the research respondents put engaging third parties for data analysis support in their top three.

Stuck in a silo set-up

Long before anyone started to talk about data, retailers had structural issues around how they siloed their various disciplines in such a way that there was never a single view of the customer, never mind a single view of stock. And this is still where many retailers are; they have brilliantly performing parts that add up to a modestly or poorly performing whole.

Meanwhile, they are continuing to generate data that they cannot exploit because there is too much of it and there is no one able to use the insights to compel the business to act on it in tandem. A classic example is where buying gets a great deal on a product for which it has no proof of demand; marketing is then compelled to shift it, ultimately at times at a loss or break even, and the stores are distracted by having to handle the promotion when they could be focusing on more profitable activities.

The knock on effect started because The Buying Department was incentivised on deals. Sorry Buying Department, but you know I’m right.

Deal or no deal

And now, along comes the data team whose job it is to match stock to demand based on insight into customer behaviour, weather, channel performance, and other events, in order to create a perfect forecast when everything is sold and nothing is wasted.

It is the right direction of travel for all retailers, but I predict it will take much longer than anyone predicts to get a return on investment, which is already turning out to be huge. I am guessing 2% of turnover per annum over the next 10 years; that needs to translate to an improvement in net margin of 8-10%. And it needs to deliver early.

Becoming a data business

That’s not going to happen except for those retailers that are more integrated and collaborative. The vendors that are selling forecasting and replenishment tools are sufficiently advanced, backed by AI, that they can make significant improvements for even inefficient retailers, so there is good news right there, but once a retailer commits to being a data business, then we are barely at the start of understanding how they will need to restructure, change process and hire staff. The systems are ready, the retailers are not.

I’m chairing Day Two of eTail Connect in St Albans on September 5, so hopefully I will see some of you there, and you can tell me what you think.

Want more Chris Field retail guidance? Join our Sunday Soundbite community by emailing jessica.hawkins@fieldworksmarketing.co.uk to get exclusive insights delivered weekly straight to your inbox. 

Join Retail Connections

Get the latest industry views and exclusive member offers sent direct to your mailbox.