6 things I learned at Retail EXPO 2019
- The rate of innovation in retail tech continues at high speed – grounds for optimism amidst all the gloom over store closures. The problem for retailers is, how the hell do they build a plan with so many options? It’s all very well telling them to define their needs better, but I rarely see a single plan created at the highest level and pushed through by senior executive sponsors.
- Some vendors are selling tech that fewer and fewer retailers actually want to buy, and yet, if they are large industry incumbents, their influence remains a strong influence on decisions to buy. The smart ones are those that know this and are prepared to broker new partnerships that they would once have not even considered, in order to take practical and integrated solutions to the retailers.
- Some vendors have got their messaging in a twist; by adding new bricks to old bricks, they have built a very ugly edifice that is likely to topple at any moment. Some have overthought it and screwed it up; others clearly believe that what makes sense to them will make sense to a normal person. Still others surface the boring stuff and hide their real value away. One problem is, the language that one generation uses is not the same as another; I can’t say ‘client/server is back’ to anyone under 30 so I have to go with ‘Cloud and Edge’.
- Subscription retail is a new channel that is entirely complementary to existing ones, it is not an ‘instead of’. The subscription retailers on my panel are all able to surprise and delight 12 times a year in ways that stores and online retailers struggle to do. All retailers could learn a lot from that as more and more consumers move from owning to experiencing.
- Personalisation ultimately only works if the customer is involved in the right way, using mechanisms that enable them to participate and share their preferences. No one really believes that the segment of one that the guru of One to One Marketing Don Peppers envisaged in 1993 will come true, largely because the technology to enable it is still in development. AI is a part of that, but evidence is still thin on the ground.
- The UK is ahead of the rest of Europe when it comes to payments; and because it is easier to set up a new business here than anywhere else in Europe, there are plenty of companies driving innovation. And to enable that, these companies, large and small, old and new, are partnering in more dynamic ways to offer solutions to merchants. This is an exciting time for payments because point of sale and payments, whilst not indivisible, are melding.
By Chris Field.