Day two of Shoptalk Europe 2023 focused on exploring emerging retail technologies, innovative supply chain solutions, and the future of retail. The day started with keynotes and continued with four different tracks. Here’s a breakdown of some of the key insights from the day.
- Reinventing Printemps' department stores
- Ground-breaking data applications
- Building an omnichannel organisation
- Sustainability initiatives across grocery and FMCG that move the needle
- Effective retail media network strategy
- Exploring emerging retail technologies
- Retail technology solution spotlight
- In summary
Reinventing Printemps' department stores
The CEO of Printemps, a French department store chain, detailed their strategic response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Having launched their first e-commerce site just before the pandemic, the company focused on unique in-store experiences and digital expansion to differentiate themselves.
Printemps reinvented their department stores by introduced unique in-store experiences and a refreshed brand image to stand out from competitors.
They've leveraged an omnichannel approach, digital innovations like virtual stores and 3D immersive videos, and influencer partnerships to boost their online presence. Importantly, an organisational culture shift towards innovation, risk-taking, and collaboration underpinned these changes.
- Brand differentiation: Printemps introduced unique in-store experiences and a refreshed brand image to stand out from competitors
- Omnichannel strategy: the company bridged physical and digital platforms, embraced click & collect and boosted their online presence from 5 to 70 million. They also moved e-commerce into the department store and store experience into e-commerce
- Digital innovation: Printemps created a virtual store, personal shopper pages with recommendations, offered 3D immersive video tours, and explored the use of NFTs
- Influencer partnerships & live shopping: they leveraged influencers, built a studio in the store and hosted live shopping events to attract new customers
- Culture shift: a reshuffling of the executive team and a new focus on risk-taking and innovation were vital in driving these changes. Printemps did this by adding new company values to allow them to move faster in digital
Many of day two's speakers discussed how AI-based tools are being leveraged across the entire business, from marketing to supply chain to the back office. Are you also thinking about adopting AI-based tools?
Ground-breaking data applications
The track keynote for the day was all about the effective application of AI and machine learning in retail. The speakers discussed how AI-based tools are being leveraged across the entire business, from marketing to supply chain to the back office.
With new foundation models transcending data analysis and inference, performing creative tasks like generating text and images and holding human-like conversations, retailers and brands have the opportunity to add value to their businesses. However, it’s important to keep in mind the challenges of maximising returns on data infrastructure investments.
Here are three inspiring examples of application of AI in a retail context:
- Innovative AI applications in creative fields: Google's Imagen and Music ML are prime examples of AI's potential in creative disciplines. For instance, Imagen's capacity to generate images based on textual descriptions allows for personalised content creation on a scale previously unimaginable. Music ML can translate text prompts into unique soundtracks, offering an entirely new tool for musicians and content creators
- Optimising supply chains through AI: AI's application in optimising supply chains was mentioned with real-time analysis and predictive modelling. As an example, companies like Decathlon are pioneering the use of AI to streamline their supply chains, thus ensuring the delivery of the right product at the right time, minimising waste, and improving efficiency
- Enhancing customer service with AI: AI can predict customer needs, personalise interactions, and provide real-time support, thereby enhancing customer service. For instance, Google's Bard tool, powered by AI, can generate shopping lists or suggest products based on user prompts, improving the overall user experience and increasing customer satisfaction
The session on Leveraging Data Effectively Throughout the Organisation highlighted the challenges that retailers face in ensuring that employees have access to and training to use the data resources that will help them work effectively and productively. Companies need to enable their employees to unlock the full value of their data resources and create a culture of data-driven decision making.
Alan Boehme, Chief Technology Officer at H&M, emphasised that we have to change and data is everything now: “We have to learn to trust the machines. We have to learn to trust the algorithms and take a different role in life where we're supporting the data, so let the data tell a story. And go with the story, don't try to just have the data used to justify the story that you're trying to tell.”
He also named the internet, cell phones, and auto-generative AI as the three most significant technological revolutions in the past 25 years, and that those three together are going to change everything about how we live in our daily lives, how we work, how we shop and what we do.
- Prioritise value over structure: following the example of Kingfisher's data transformation journey, prioritise value over structure, create data appetite with prototypes, build trust in your data, involve users in product development, and leverage in-house AI expertise
- Technical data framework: follow the path of Auchan Retail and implement a technical data framework to create a single interface for all apps and data, allowing real-time access, scalability, and performance
- Combining AI and human capabilities: AI is a tool that can enhance human capabilities and creativity. It is not a replacement for human insight but a powerful means to amplify it. The future of these industries lies in the successful collaboration of human and artificial intelligence
- Value explicability: Users need to understand why a recommendation is given. A better AI recommendation is not more effective if it is not understood and therefore not adopted
Building an omnichannel organisation
Building an Omnichannel Organisation was the focus of the next session. Retailers are moving beyond “omnichannel” into a world where shopping journeys move fluidly across physical stores and websites, social media, marketplaces, and more. The key to success is ensuring internal strategic alignment balanced with a relentless focus on providing customer value.
For instance, the crucial role of being Head of Omnichannel involves steering and synchronising various channels to guarantee smooth functioning. This role is tasked with weaving together the physical and digital facets of the business, and ensuring a uniform customer experience across all platforms.
Retailers are moving beyond “omnichannel” into a world where shopping journeys move fluidly across physical stores and websites, social media, marketplaces, and more.
In an effort to boost collaboration and communication, organisations are defining clear domains of expertise. Technology has a pivotal role in these efforts, breaking down communication barriers and promoting real-time data sharing. An example of this is Lindex's current efforts to align their technology and infrastructure with their new organisational structure.
Emphasising the need for restructuring within organisations, Neil Reynolds, Global VP Digital Commerce for Mars Wrigley, reveals that the internal dynamics of companies are changing, with roles becoming more fluid to accommodate this rapid change. He cites his own role as a Chief Growth Officer which integrates the functions of marketing and sales as an example of this shift
- Experimentation and data-driven decision making: the ability to quickly test new ideas and solutions and roll them out on a larger scale based on data is crucial in retail
Sustainability initiatives across grocery and FMCG that move the needle
Eliminating food waste, creating more sustainable products and packaging, and reducing carbon emissions are all business and consumer imperatives. Although economic headwinds can challenge companies’ commitment to making choices that promote a healthier planet, the industry can’t afford to dial back its efforts. Leaders from grocery retailers and FMCG brands shared how they’re implementing sustainability initiatives across their business that are delivering real results.
Effective retail media network strategy
The session on Developing an Effective Retail Media Network Strategy discussed how retail media is expected to be an almost €25 billion business in Europe by 2026. Retailers are seeking new revenue streams, and brand advertisers are looking for new ways to track customers ahead of changes to third-party cookie policies. The panel discussion featured retail and brand leaders who discussed how they’re approaching this new model and how brands can fund these investments and generate the most ROI.
In the third track, panellists discussed how new technologies like mixed and augmented reality will blend digital information and the physical world in exciting new ways.
Exploring emerging retail technologies
The third track focused on emerging retail technologies, and how they are being used to create immersive experiences in augmented, mixed, and virtual realities. The panellists discussed how new technologies like mixed and augmented reality will blend digital information and the physical world in exciting new ways.
The opportunity around digital collectibles, apparel, and other virtual goods was also discussed, with brands sharing their strategies behind their virtual goods forays and lessons they have learned.
Interesting usage of new emerging technologies at Farfetch - and with great results!
- Product inspiration - virtual clothes not yet produced on real models with pre-order possibilities
- Product discovery - using AI to generate a number of product images. Virtual model but real clothes on the model
- Product try-on - AR to try on products before purchase. Also used in stores to try on products that are out of stock
- Product engagement - a virtual world created with Burberry for the launch of their new Olympia bag
Farfetch demonstrated how they use AR to let customers try on new products before a possible purchase. This technique is also used in stores for trying on products that are currently out of stock.
Live streaming and shoppable video
This track also explored the dynamic world of shoppable video content. Topics ranged from emerging technologies such as livestream shopping, the contrast between inspirational and transactional content, to the vital role of trust and authenticity in enhancing user engagement in today's retail landscape.
- The importance of intention in content creation - The type of content produced must align with the consumer's purpose. Inspirational content can drive engagement, while educational or transactional content can facilitate purchasing decisions. Understanding this differentiation is crucial for retailers as they navigate the world of shoppable video and livestreaming.
- Building trust is essential for adoption of new technologies - While livestream shopping has had a slow start in Western markets compared to Asia, the consensus is that this trend has significant potential. The key to unlocking this potential is to foster authenticity and build trust with consumers. Engaging presenters, quality control, and clear, straightforward content can contribute significantly to this trust-building process.
The future of retail involves not only introducing innovative technologies but also integrating them into a seamless customer journey. Retailers need to explore and invest in strategies that merge the stages of inspiration, discovery, and transaction, making the shopping process as fluid and intuitive as possible. This could involve strategies like shoppable recipes, user-generated content, or even geographic-targeted strategies.
The fourth and final track focused on technology solutions that enhance the physical retail experience, improve marketing and personalisation, and optimise the supply chain.
Retail technology solution spotlight
Day two's fourth and final track of Shoptalk Europe 2023 focused on technology solutions that enhance the physical retail experience, improve marketing and personalisation, and optimise the supply chain. The founders and CEOs of various companies presented their solutions, followed by a discussion on how technology can make physical stores more efficient and engaging for consumers.
Three examples of new technology solutions:
- Sustainable and efficient stores through AI and digitisation: the integration of AI and digitisation technologies, such as SES-Imagotag's electronic shelf labels, enables the transformation of physical stores into sustainable and efficient environments. These solutions optimise operations, improve inventory management, and reduce waste, contributing to overall sustainability goals
- Cost savings and enhanced customer engagement: retail technology solutions, including AI-driven camera systems and electronic shelf labels, help retailers achieve cost savings by streamlining processes, reducing labour requirements, and minimising inventory discrepancies. Simultaneously, these technologies enhance customer engagement by providing real-time product information, personalised offers, and seamless shopping experiences
- Human-technology collaboration for exceptional service: rather than replacing human interaction, retail technology solutions aim to enhance the capabilities of store associates. By automating repetitive tasks and providing data-driven insights, these solutions empower store employees to focus on delivering exceptional customer service, building relationships, and providing personalised assistance. The trials of autonomous stores by major grocery chains reflect the future potential of human-technology collaboration to create efficient and engaging retail environments
Online, virtual environments in shopping bring a fresh and dynamic approach to e-commerce, offering immersive experiences, personalised interactions, and new avenues for brand promotion and customer engagement. Brands can utilise these environments to differentiate themselves from traditional websites and provide unique shopping experiences, especially for luxury brands.
Overall, day two of Shoptalk Europe 2023 provided valuable insights into how retailers and brands are leveraging technology to improve their businesses, from AI-based tools and data-driven decision making to sustainability initiatives and automation technologies. The focus on emerging retail technologies also highlighted the potential for mixed and augmented reality, digital collectibles, and Web 3 technologies to transform the retail industry.
The technology solution spotlight showcased a variety of innovative solutions, including those that enhance the physical retail experience, improve marketing and personalisation, and optimise the supply chain.