Retailers forced to take a lead on tech innovation as tech industry fails to lead the way

Tesco, Woolworths Australia, Ahold Delhaize and Shoprite have launched $125 million VC fund to accelerate retail innovation. The fund, called W23 Global, will invest in start-ups and scale-ups over five years. The idea is to “drive faster, more personalised and connected experiences across stores and online.”

“At a time when innovation is reshaping retail and value chains across the economy, we aim to offer our investors incomparable access to transformative innovation in grocery and sustainability across the globe,” said W23 Global CEO and Chief Investment Officer Ingrid Maes.

Time was when the tech industry led on innovation but there are no longer any stand out leaders prepared to take the time and investment needed to support retail. There are various reasons for this we would suggest, both positive and negative.

Tech no longer owns innovation

Firstly, the big retailers are already innovators and cannot be second guessed by the tech industry as to what tech they should adopt.

Secondly, there is no new generation of workers in retail tech that are coming up with any vision for what retail will look like in the coming years.

And thirdly, the management consultants are simply parroting what everyone else is saying rather than coming up with new ideas.

It is hardly surprising therefore that retailers are doing tech for themselves.


Performance outdoor apparel brand KUIU has extended its global Direct To Consumer (DTC) and marketing reach into 37 international markets in partnership with ESW, the world’s leading DTC ecommerce company.

KUIU manufactures high-quality, performance outdoor apparel and was founded in 2011 with the vision of creating the highest quality ultralight hunting clothing and equipment, designed to be as affordable and accessible as possible.  With high demand for its products in its domestic North American markets of the U.S. and Canada, the brand wanted to expand internationally and cultivate direct consumer relationships with shoppers in key European markets.

However, KUIU lacked the necessary technology and infrastructure and quickly realised developing these systems and processes in-house would take years of time they couldn’t afford to lose, as well as a significant investment of resources.  In 2017 it selected ESW because of the company’s experience in localization in over 200 markets, its speed to market capability, and its expertise in knowing what drives scalable and sustainable DTC growth across international territories.

ESW’s solution ensured that shoppers in each market would have a domestic-equivalent brand experience online through a localised checkout.  This featured market-appropriate currency displays and locally recognized payment methods as well as displaying transparent duties and taxes, so customers weren’t faced with the surprise of ‘hidden’ fees just before completing their purchases.

In 2022 KUIU extended the partnership to include ESW’s demand generation and marketing services to manage customer acquisition and retention, targeting English speaking shoppers in Germany, Austria, France, Spain, Switzerland, Belgium and Norway. ESW developed both brand awareness messaging and a strategic campaign for KUIU to support new customer acquisition in each market.  ESW created a ‘look alike’ targeting list based on similar brand affinities across KUIU’s main audience segments and customer cohorts.  Targeted social media, search and online campaign advertising featuring localised market specific content drove website traffic, grew brand awareness, supported customer acquisition and delivered conversions.

To date, ESW has delivered a marketing ROI for KUIU of 6.5x and in January 2023 ESW and KUIU further extended their partnership to a total of 37 locations globally including KUIU’s biggest market – Canada – alongside the UK, Australia and New Zealand.  Moving forward, demand generation activity will encompass email marketing, outlet and free shipping thresholds with an expected move into South America also planned for 2024 as it continues its ambitious global expansion goals.

Christy Ansari, Chief Sales & Planning Officer, Ultralight Hunting at KUIU, said, “ESW has acted as an extension of the KUIU team and has been integral to our international expansion. ESW was as invested as we were in making our international marketing programs as successful as possible.  Having them onboard meant that we could leverage the ESW team’s years of experience and technology to enter new markets efficiently, effectively and at pace.”

Martim Oliveira Avillez, Chief Revenue Officer at ESW, said, “Having a robust global DTC solution is critical for brands hoping to take market share in an increasingly competitive sector.  We’re delighted to see the success KUIU is having and to partner with them for the next phase of their international growth.”

2 weeks to go! The Retail Technology Show announces a raft of new special events for 2024

As we count down towards the Retail Technology Show (RTS), the leading industry event that connects retail’s changemakers and leading tech innovators, the RTS has announced a series of special events, new for 2024.

From showcasing emerging retail formats and examples of stores delivering new and exciting shopping experiences, the series of exclusive events from the RTS, retail’s flagship event which takes place at London Olympia on the 24 and 25 April 2024, will offer even more chances to see best practice and innovation in action while providing important networking opportunities.

For the first time the RTS will be offering up a London Store Tour, exclusively for brands and retailers attending the show.  Taking place on Tuesday 23 April, the day before the RTS opens its doors, retailers can sign up to join a limited number of exclusive tours, allowing them to experience first-hand London’s best physical retail. With a focus on  design, technology and experiential activations, the RTS London Store Tours, sponsored by Newstore, will be expertly curated and hosted by retail influencer, Ian Scott.

In addition to the London Store Tours, the RTS will also be hosting a special Retail Media Networks focused event, sponsored by digital signage specialist, Scala.  This will also take place the day before RTS on 23 April.  Retailers can join their peers, in-store experience and technology experts, brands and agencies at this full-day event focused entirely on what’s widely considered the most important channel in the white-hot retail media network (RMN) ecosystem  – the physical store.

New for 2024, RTS will be partnering with ecommerce event and networking specialists, Commerce Futures, who will curate its ‘ecommerce excellence and omnichannel’ conference stream, dedicated to digital best practice.  The partnership will also see RTS and Commerce Futures host a private retailer dinner on Day 1 of the show (24 April), where brands and retail leaders can share learnings under ‘Chatham House’ rules.  To sign up, retailers register by contacting: [email protected].

Matt Bradley, Event Director at the Retail Technology Show, commented:

“Retailers and brands will already know the RTS as a key industry platform for making the connections that matter – from the 400+ tech innovators we showcase on the exhibition floor to our all-star line-up of speakers on our conference programme.  This year, we wanted to go further and offer even more opportunities for our visitors to connect with their peers, experience first-hand retail best practice and game-changing innovations, which is why we’re excited to deliver our new programme of special events.”

As a hub for the retail community, technology providers, exhibitors and media partners will also be hosting ‘satellite’ events over the period of the RTS. will host a VIP Retailer Dinner on 24 April, offering the chance for senior retailers to enjoy relaxed discussions and networking in a sales-pitch-free environment, while Apptension and Kestronics will host Happy Hours between 1530 – 1630 on Day 1 of the show.  The Retail Bulletin, a media partner of RTS,  will also be hosting a private lunch for the judges of its popular People in Retail Awards during RTS, offering the unique opportunity for its judges to convene, deliberate and network.

In addition, the RTS will once again deliver its  trademark opportunities for unrivalled networking at the show  – from the Big Party on Day 1 hosted at the Champagne Bar, to private lunches and roundtables sponsored by Natwest BOXED, Mastercard and Zebra, for peer-to-peer discussion, and the chance to unwind in the Retailers’ Lounge.

Register for free to attend the industry’s flagship event which bring s the magic of retail to life, here.

East of England Co-op rolls out Pricer across its full store estate

East of England Co-operative Society, one of the largest regional co-operatives in the UK, has signed an agreement with Pricer for a full-chain installation in all 120+ of its food stores with the cloud-based platform Pricer Plaza and digital labels.

To improve operational efficiency in its 120+ food stores, East of England Co-op has selected Pricer’s in-store automation and communication solution and the latest 4 color electronic shelf labels. The installation will start in June and the plan is to have all installations finalized during spring 2025.

The food stores across the East of England region will benefit from a fast and retail grade platform enabling real-time updates across all locations. The solution is based on the platform Pricer Plaza, which provides a cloud-based software solution that enables the chains to centrally manage and control pricing, product information, and promotions across all electronic shelf labels in all connected stores. Pricer Plaza eliminates the need for manual updates and reduces the risk of errors, ensuring accuracy and efficiency in the operations and overall store efficiency by enabling store colleagues to focus on other more value-adding tasks.

“We’re thrilled to be partnering with Pricer, marking a significant milestone in our journey of simplification. This collaboration will revolutionise our approach to shelf-edge technology, streamlining processes for our team and enhancing the shopping experience for our members and customers. It’s a step towards a future where simplicity and efficiency elevate the retail experience for everyone involved”, says Sarah Steels, Chief Transformation Officer at the East of England Co-operative Society.

“It’s incredibly gratifying to witness the interest we’ve seen in the UK market translate into large-scale installations. With rising minimum wages, inflationary pressures, and staffing shortages, the imperative to digitize stores has never been more apparent. This is a strategically important deal in grocery in the UK & Ireland in a market that is embracing digital shelf labels for the first time. We eagerly anticipate partnering with East of England Co-op, playing a pivotal role in their digitization strategy to enhance operational efficiency in stores and deliver an enhanced shopping experience, says Mats Arnehall, Chief Commercial Officer at Pricer.

Pricer to unveil new connected store solutions at the Retail Technology Show

Pricer, the leading in-store automation and communication solutions, will showcase new connected stores solutions at the Retail Technology Show, taking place at London’s Olympia on 24 & 25 April, 2024.  Exhibiting at booth #6E18, Pricer will present its latest shelf-edge automation and communication solutions that serve the rapidly growing smart retail market, with new applications for Grocery, Fashion and DIY retail as well as Retail Media Networks (RMNs).

Based on Electronic Shelf Labels (ESLs), Pricer digitally awakens the shelf-edge in real-time to improve store operations – from on shelf availability to dynamic pricing and retail media capabilities – as well as empowering retailers’ omnichannel offerings, including store within a store, efficient picking of store-fulfilled ecommerce orders and advanced replenishment.

Pricer Plaza

Central to Pricer’s solution is Pricer Plaza, its cloud-based management system infrastructure that enables Software as a Service (SaaS) business models.  Pricer Plaza comprises a suite of services that provide sophisticated management of in-store infrastructure and services from individual departments and stores, up to large scale chains.

It acts as the key foundation for advanced store digitalization functionality such as: sophisticated real-time dynamic price and promotion implementation and management; advanced replenishment; shelf imaging and optimization; Click & Collect services; and in-store geo-location for advanced customer experience (CX).

Magnus Larsson, CEO of Pricer, commented:

“Many leading retail brands are now integrating ESLs to transform their operations and customer experience, from electronics to food, to pharmacy, fashion and convenience.  Our customers need scalable and reliable tools to build their business for the future.  Making the shelf more dynamic allows retailers to better connect their products to their customers, whether that’s via real-time interaction or pricing at the shelf-edge, easier in-store navigation or addressing on-shelf availability and replenishment.”

Fashioning new shelf-edge experiences for apparel retail

The UK’s leading outdoor retail group, Cotswold Outdoor (O&CC), which also owns brands including Snow+Rock and Runners Need, will join Pricer on its stand, with a dedicated feature wall showcasing the latest ESL applications for fashion and apparel.

Partnering with Pricer to create a bespoke digital label for garments, Cotswold Outdoor announced it would conduct a full UK chain roll out of Pricer Plaza and its customised ESLs in January 2024 to increase store efficiencies and improve customer experience (CX).  The roll out is expected to be finalised by May 2024.  Cotswold Outdoor is the first UK store to use Pricer’s HangTAG solution, and it leverages Pricer to apply real-time digital price adjustment capabilities.  It is also exploring using the solution to deliver more efficient picking of online orders for its Click & Collect service, as well as enhanced replenishment to ensure improved product availability to reduce shelf gaps and out of stocks.

A digital makeover for DIY retail

Pricer will also feature its latest ESL for DIY, homeware, pharmacy, fashion and pet store retailers, HangTAG, on its stand.  This small format ESL brings new digital capabilities to even the smallest of e-labels, allowing real-time, dynamic pricing and promotions to be applied to single hangers and peg hook mounting.  It integrates with Pricer Plaza, Pricer’s integrated management systems solution, bringing in-store efficiencies and elevated customer experience to life within sleek and compact visual merchandising.

Digital signage that brings Retail Media in-store

As well as digitally engaging the shopper at the shelf-edge, offering up interactive ESLs that can deliver real-time information, offers and pricing, Pricer will also showcase its latest digital signage offers that help power Retail Media Network (RMN) capabilities.

Integrated shelf-edge digital signage and Smart Rail, the latest solution from Pricer that delivers a streamline platform for digital ad campaigns and promotions to run in-store alongside a product or brand, offer up new opportunities for retailers to tap RMN opportunities.  Already tipped as creating the third – and biggest – new wave of digital advertising, RMNs represent a £10bn revenue opportunity for retailers in 2024, according to Insider Intelligence.

To book an appointment to speak to one of Pricer’s experts on the booth (#6E18), or to find out more about how Pricer’s solutions can deliver game-changing in-store capabilities, visit: Pricer | The World’s Most Reliable Electronic Shelf Labels (ESL)

Millennials are the demographic most influenced by Retail Media ads

Millennials are the most likely shopper demographic to have their buying decisions influenced by Retail Media ads at the shelf-edge, the latest research from the Retail Technology Show (RTS), the industry’s leading event taking place on 24 & 25 April 2024 at London’s Olympia, reveals.

Original research of over 1,000 UK adults by RTS showed that almost half (47%) of Millennial consumers would be influenced to buy a new product having been served immersive, digital ads in-store, compared to 35% of average UK shoppers.  A further 49% of Millennials said that retail media ads delivered in-store helped validate their buying decisions when shopping brands they already buy from, helping retailers drive greater brand engagement and loyalty amongst existing shoppers.

With the global retail media market already being tipped to grow to £100billion by 2026, retailers are accelerating their Retail Media Network (RMN) capabilities to tap valuable new revenue streams, selling advertising to 3rd party brands and agencies wanting to engage with customer audiences.  With Currys launching its RMN, Currys Connected Media, in December as it looks to grow ad revenues, Co-op became the first convenience retailer to launch a retail media offer in January this year.

As UK retailers accelerate RMN capabilities, RTS’ research showed that already a quarter (25%) of shoppers have been influenced by retail media ads in-store, rising to 40% of Millennials and two fifths (38%) of Gen Z consumers.  And this wasn’t just being witnessed in-store; a recent poll by Intellias showed that UK shoppers are now twice as likely to be influenced by ads served to them on the websites of retailers they already shop with compared with marketplaces.  This underscores the power of ads served by ‘trusted’ brands, with research conducted by ADvendio suggested 50% of consumers now want to receive highly curated, personalised advertisements and brand communications from the retailers they already shop with.

Matt Bradley, Event Director for the Retail Technology Show, commented:

“At the same time that 3rd party channels, such as search and social media, have become more competitive and expensive, brands and retailers are reporting diminishing levels of engagement and ROAS (return on ad spend) from what were once lucrative engagement platforms.  With their sizable 1st party audiences and shopper insights into their customer bases, retailers can open up new engagement opportunities for 3rd party brands with ‘conversion-ready’ shoppers, making RMNs an exciting and scalable new revenue opportunity.”

New strategies for acquiring, engaging and retaining shoppers will be a key theme within the RTS 2024 conference programme, with retail Publisher and Author, Miya Knights, chairing discussions with leading brands and retailers on the Marketing, Customer & Loyalty stage on Day 1 of the show.  Holland & Barrett’s Director of Digital Loyalty, Jonathan Haywood will deliver a session on how retailers can build loyalty among price-sensitive consumers, while TikTok’s FMCG lead, Fred Fishlock, explores the role of the social media platform as an ecommerce tool.

Bringing together the brightest minds in retail with the most transformative technologies, the 2024 Retail Technology Show is a one-stop-shop for innovation, with 400+ innovators – from tech’s biggest players to fast-growth disruptors showcasing their transformative solutions.

To register to attend the Retail Technology Show for free, visit: Retail Technology Show 2024.

One in four shoppers avoid buying from international retailers due to concerns around returns

Asendia, a global leader in ecommerce and mail solutions, and ESW, the leading global direct-to-consumer (DTC) ecommerce company, share the latest insights from Shipping and Returns: Leveraging Logistics to Unlock Global Loyalty.

Key findings based on data from more than 18,000 respondents in 18 countries show customer expectations regarding the post-purchase journey – particularly regarding cross-border returns -are both high and varied.

The report highlights a number of key concerns customers have related to shipping and returns, and helps global brands and merchants understand how to meet consumer expectations.

The report offers insights into consumer sentiment regarding transparency around fees and return policies, charging a returns or restocking fee, and free returns in exchange for a subscription membership.

Show me the money 

Returns logistics can be challenging and expensive, therefore many retailers have begun implementing return fees in order to claw back costs and deter shoppers from making excessive purchases with the intention of returning most of them.

Overall, nearly half of consumers said they are willing to make purchases even if there was a nominal returns charge. However, Gen Z was more than 1.7 times more likely to accept a fee than Baby Boomers. Of the countries surveyed, India, UAE, and South Korea were most willing to accept return charges.

Joining the club

27% of respondents said they are inclined to pay for a membership if it means they can return their purchases for free, another 27% would pay return shipping charges. More than four in 10 shoppers in India, China and Mexico would pay a membership fee that includes free returns yet only 15% of UK, German, and Swiss shoppers would pay a membership fee. They would, however, pay for return shipping.

“In today’s global marketplace, a robust cross-border returns strategy isn’t just another box to tick, it’s a strategic imperative. Prioritising a seamless, customer-centric return process enhances satisfaction, builds trust, and ultimately fuels long-term success. Each market is a unique ecosystem, with distinct customer behaviours and preferences.”

Helen Scurfield, CEO Global Returns, Asendia.

“By removing the friction from cross-border returns brands can open routes to higher spend and new customers.  But global reverse logistics are complex and managing them requires considerable expertise. By partnering with ESW and Asendia, brands and retailers have access to our industry leading solutions allowing them to enter new markets in a matter of weeks and create exceptional customer experiences that foster brand loyalty and deliver revenue growth”, explains Nick Cranney, Global Logistics & Returns, ESW.

The report will be discussed by a panel of industry experts in an upcoming webinar, titled Mastering Returns: How Brands and Retailers can succeed in the Customer-Centric Era, launching on 3 AprilTo download the report, click here.

Co-op launches Member Prices online and via its app

Member price benefits are now available via Co-op’s own online shop, the retailer announced today, offering additional value and savings for shoppers via its Co-op app or website, and a further boost to the convenience retailer’s Membership growth ambitions.

It said it would now offer the same Member price benefits online for its member-owners as in store, with the added convenience of products picked fresh in the local store and delivered quickly and conveniently in the community.  Member prices are across more than 300 key lines and everyday essentials.

Co-op said it had seen the highest influx of Member-owners in eight years and earlier this year announced ambitions to substantially increase the number of Members from 5 million to 8 million by 2030.

Chris Conway, Co-op’s eCommerce Director, said:

“Co-op Membership is a different way of doing business, we are focussed on creating value for our Member-owners who are at the very heart of our business. Growing and innovating our online channels is a fundamental part of our approach, and we are committed to providing greater benefits to those who own our business, our Member-owners, with savings across an extensive range and choice of everyday essentials and groceries ordered through our own online shop.”

Co-op has plans to grow the number of its stores where its own online shop is available to 1,000 during 2024, and has ambitions to accelerate its share of the quick commerce market to more than 30%. In addition to its own online shop, Co-op partners with Amazon; Deliveroo; Just Eat; Uber Eats; a small-scale trial with Snappy Shopper in Northern Ireland and, autonomous delivery of groceries by robots through Starship Technologies.

Pennies Named Gold Charity Partner for Retail Technology Show 2024

Pennies, an award-winning charity at the cutting edge of fintech and putting social purpose at the heart of business, is pleased to announce its continued partnership as a Gold Charity Partner for the Retail Technology Show 2024. This significant partnership underscores a longstanding collaboration dating back to 2017 and highlights the pivotal role that the Retail Technology Show (RTS) has played in amplifying Pennies’ impact and the micro-donation movement.

Since their collaboration began, Pennies and the Retail Technology Show have formed a strong partnership, aiding the growth of the micro-donation movement and encouraging digital innovation in retail and technology through micro-donations at point of sale. Retail Technology Show serves as an influential platform where Pennies can connect with industry leaders, establish important partnerships, and promote the transformative power of micro-donations. Join Pennies this year at Stand 6K04 to discover more.

“We are delighted to renew our partnership with Retail Technology Show as their Gold Charity Partner. Retail Technology Show has been instrumental in advancing Pennies’ mission, offering us a fantastic platform to share our message, build valuable connections, and inspire others to join the micro-donation movement.”

Alison Hutchinson CBE, CEO at Pennies

Retail Technology Show acts as a catalyst, propelling Pennies’ mission forward and empowering it to make a meaningful difference in the lives of individuals and communities. Since first attending Retail Technology Show in 2017, Pennies has raised an impressive £40+ million through over 165 million micro-donations – showcasing how powerful partnerships like the one with Retail Technology Show can be.

“As we return to the Retail Technology Show for another year, we want to thank the Retail Technology Show team for their continued support and commitment to Pennies, and micro-donations. Together, we will continue to innovate, drive positive change, and shape the future of digital giving,” Hutchinson added.

Taking place on April 24-25, 2024, at Olympia, London, Retail Technology Show remains Europe’s premier gathering for forward-thinking retailers and tech innovators. It offers an unparalleled platform for industry leaders to exchange insights, explore cutting-edge solutions, and shape the future of retail.

To showcase the significance of Pennies micro-donations, consider this: if all the donations made with Pennies within those two days were made up of real pennies, and were laid end- to-end, they would span a distance equivalent to walking around Olympia over 110 times.

Matt Bradley, Event Director at RTS, commented:

“Since 2017, we’ve been proud to partner with Pennies and support them in championing the micro-donation movement. As an event that puts the retail community at the heart of what we do, we share Pennies’ vision that collectively small actions really can make a material difference. We’re delighted the Retail Technology Show can act as a platform to showcase Pennies as well as for show visitors to donate to its worthy causes, and we look forward to welcoming them again this year as a Gold Charity Partner.”

To discover more about Pennies and the micro-donation movement, visit Stand 6K04 at the Retail Technology Show 2024, taking place on April 24-25, 2024, at Olympia, London. Alternatively, contact Pennies directly to explore partnership opportunities and join the mission to drive positive change through digital giving, one penny at a time:

UK consumers empty covid saving coffers as funds used to supplement cost-of-living spending dry up

Nearly half (45%) of UK consumers have been using savings accumulated during Covid-19 lockdowns to offset the cost-of-living crisis, according to new research from the Retail Technology Show (RTS), the industry’s leading event taking place on 24 & 25 April 2024 at London’s Olympia.

Original research of over 1,000 UK adults by RTS revealed that on average British consumers built up a Covid saving pot of £4,805, with Millennials reporting the highest levels of lockdown savings, amassing an average of £5,862.50 while Boomers reported the smallest pots at £4,069.20.

Despite the Governor of the Bank of England, Andrew Bailey, insisting the economy was already showing signs of recovering from a mild recession, more than a quarter (26%) of respondents expect the cost-of-living crisis to last beyond 2026, with a fifth (21%) expecting it to end in 2025.

While the British Retail Consortium’s shop price index revealed food inflation had slowed to its lowest rate for nearly two years, 45% of consumers report using Covid savings to supplement their lifestyle, top up household budgets or cover rising energy bills, with a third (34%) reporting their lockdown savings have now or will shortly be spent.  Accordingly, nearly half (48%) of consumers identified themselves as being increasingly price sensitive, with 38% becoming more considered about each purchase they make and 35% spending more time searching for deals or the best price before purchasing.

Conversely, more than a third (36%) say they haven’t yet spent their Covid-19 savings post – increasing to 50% of Baby Boomers and 42% of Gen X.  However, credit rating agency, Fitch Ratings, predicts that while these households have untapped savings, high interest rates will continue to inhibit spending propensity, meaning their excess savings will go unspent.

Matt Bradley, Event Director for the Retail Technology Show, commented:

“The British consumer has shown extraordinary resilience in the face of ongoing pressure on household budgets and unsurprisingly shoppers are prioritising price and value when it comes to retail spending.  In such a price sensitive environment retailers and brands are rightly focused on technology and strategies that can deliver cost savings and efficiencies while maximising customer experience to retain loyal shoppers and protect revenue.”

Set to speak on the Headline Stage at RTS 2024, Richard Lim, CEO at Retail Economics, will share insights into the economic outlook for the UK retail industry for 2024 before being joined by speakers from Holland & Barrett and Co-op Food in a session focused on how retailers are responding in such a highly challenging and unpredictable economic environment.

Bringing together the brightest minds in retail with the most transformative technologies, the 2024 Retail Technology Show is a one-stop-shop for innovation, with 400+ innovators – from tech’s biggest players to fast-growth disruptors showcasing their transformative solutions.

To register to attend the Retail Technology Show for free, visit: Retail Technology Show 2024.

Join Retail Connections

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