Last week, we ran an e-festival with over 100 talks across different topics related to innovation in retail, along the customer experience journey and beyond. For many attendees—and the speakers themselves—the talks provided moments where they could both focus on the future and deal with today.
With speakers from brands, retailers, solutions providers, tech firms and consultants, what did the audience really learn about the future at World Retail Innovation Week? We ran lunchtime town-hall sessions each day to hear from the professionals attending WRIW events and they told us about a number of themes that they believe will drive retailers, service providers and brands forward:
- Companies need to be seen providing something of real value to serve their customers. While the economy needs to rebuild, the notion of simply selling something seems out of step with the times. Consumers will give your brand a moment to try to connect, but they no longer want to hear your hyperbole or suffer your interruptions.
- Consumers want to see brands and retailers engaging and supporting the people around them. They want to understand what steps brands and retailers are taking to care for their communities—whether that’s with the local businesses or through groups spread apart but connected by interests of beliefs.
- Consumers are asking what impact a purchase has on the world’s resources. They don’t want to create unnecessary waste. They want to end the pursuit of more and be satisfied with the idea that enough is enough.
- Customers will stock up and be prepared to take fewer risks. Even Gen Z and younger Millennials will break from their habits of just-in-time buying and make sure that they have enough essentials ready at any time. They will also avoid risks in finance and try not to travel beyond places of safety and familiarity.
Capacity to Convert
- Businesses need to be able to adjust their model for disruption that might occur suddenly and in successive waves. They will need to adapt to serve their customers differently depending on the circumstances—whether that’s through altering of the digital experience, physical real estate or even a change of merchandise.
Clear & Clean
- Shoppers will be reticent to return to stores that aren’t redesigned to ensure high levels of hygiene and personal space. They will expect retailers to employ their camera and tracking technology to ensure health and safety protocols in a real world space.
- When customers grow used to buying anything and everything online, stores will need to adapt to function as service centers. Stores will continue to evolve into discovery centers, places of learning and connection, and hubs that support on a personalized level.
While there could well be a short-term shopping splurge when we all finally leave our homes, the WRIW audience expect that these longer term themes will drive a “great reset” in attitudes, morals and behavior both on a personal and corporate level. Businesses that connect with the consumer around these themes will more likely flourish in the next normal.