Retailers have been urged to come to terms with the ‘radical change’ facing the sector, during the first day of Retail Week Live 2022, taking place during 24 -25 May at Old Billingsgate, London.
The event was led by one of its headline speakers and retail champion, Mary Portas, who called on retail businesses to work harder to find ‘meaningful philosophies’ that connect with customers when she told attendees: “The way we live and shop has fundamentally changed. This is a new world we’re entering. Covid was a catalyst for many cultural changes that were bubbling under for such a long time and now the way we live and shop has fundamentally changed.”
“We know we’re killing our planet, so people are thinking much more carefully about where they’re buying from. And we’re seeing so many social injustices in the world and people with much less, leveraged by the war in Ukraine and prices going up. The heart of great retail is always understanding those changes that are happening and being able to serve them and give the best response to people. We’ve seen so many retailers fail because they were operationally brilliant but lacked this creative heart. What they were missing is the big piece in the middle which is about how you connect through your behaviours to your customers.”
Outstanding people, projects and partnerships redefining retail
The two-day Retail Week Live event shines a spotlight on the outstanding people, projects and partnerships currently defining the sector. By close of play tomorrow, more than 800 visitors will have heard and learnt from over 120 speakers, met 20 of the latest start-ups in Retail Week Live’s Discovery Zone and networked with attendees from across the ecosystem and of varying levels within businesses.
Launching the event, Retail Week editor, Luke Tugby, said that “if ever there was time for radical change, it’s now” and that the series of ‘existential headwinds’, such as spiraling inflation, the cost of living crisis, supply chain disruption and labour shortages, was making it a tougher than ever environment for retailers.
He said: “Winning customer loyalty, growing sales, attracting a skilled and diverse workforce, and doing good for the planet has always been tough in our brilliantly competitive UK market – but doing so has never been more difficult, nor more important, than it is today.”
The opening keynote was presented by another of Retail Week Live’s headliners, boohoo’s Chief Information Officer, Jo Graham, who echoed the need for radical change but warned that retailers were at risk of looking for innovation in the wrong places, with too many prioritising data over actionable, first-person insight:
“Think about when you are shopping and your own experiences, and what you liked and didn’t like. We often just shop, note it and move on. But just imagine how radical it would be if you honed in on those experiences that really made you feel valued as a shopper, and really tried to understand what it was about it that made you feel valued as a customer.”
Don’t miss Retail Week Live – Day 2: People and planet
This year Retail Week Live is split into two distinct focuses, with tomorrow (25 May) focusing on people and the planet, and following the tech and innovation track of Day 1.
Speakers will include Guillaume Chesneau, UK MD of Nespresso, who will discuss with Sarah Clark, CEO of Frugi and Tom Warner, the founder of Warner’s Gin how to better empower shoppers to live more sustainably and ask how a sustained approach to business growth could replace the pursuit of profit. Jo Whitfield, Chief Executive of Co-op Food, Richard Walker, Managing Director of Iceland and Luke Jensen CEO of Ocado Solutions will look to the future of grocery, as it faces its own battles with supply chain disruption, food price inflation and evolved shopper behaviours.
And retail charity, Retail Trust, will call on retail leaders to better protect the wellbeing of its workforce with the release of a new report that reveals how many workers are now at risk of leaving the industry, at a time when retail looks to recruit, retain and evolve its much needed workforce.
Register for your Day 2 pass here: Retail Week Live | Retail Evolved: Thriving in a digital world (retail-week.com)