The pandemic created an unprecedented boom in retail – even now, as the dust settles, there’s still a lot to unpack. In the last three years, shopper habits changed dramatically, with many discovering the benefits of e-commerce and not planning on letting online shopping go.
Right now, we are seeing two waves of retail trends – some will be permanent, and others are part of a post-pandemic rebound. It’s up to retailers to place bets on which is which and choose how to strategize for the future.
And that future, too, is by no means a clear one. There are economic turbulence and climate change threats at the one end of the scale and digitization, innovative tech, and ways to improve productivity at the other.
The question is – how can retailers make the most out of emerging technologies and market opportunities?
That and more was part of the conversation at the Retail Technology Show, held on April 26th-27th in London.
With the recession in the mix and a climate catastrophe on the line, industry practitioners had a lot to discuss.
As a company focusing on AdTech and MarTech development, Xenoss could not miss this opportunity to explore where the market is headed, connect with innovative thinkers and technologists, and discover new ways to support retailers throughout customer acquisition and retention, as well as advertising and marketing campaigns.
Here’s an after-the-fact recap of some of the insightful ideas that touched on retail innovation trends retailers, marketers, and advertisers should strive to capitalize on this year and beyond.
1. Retail media
Retail media are taking AdTech by storm because of how successfully they bring advertisers closer to purchase-oriented consumers and offer retailers an outlet for monetizing first-party data.
We were excited to see what fellow industry professionals think about the future of the channel. AdVendio, a Salesforce-empowered advertising platform we saw at the event, does a lot of work in the space. At Retail Technology Show, the company presented its retail media network that helps retailers maximize the revenue of their platforms.
Matt Bradley, event director at Retail Technology Show, agrees that RMNs carry a lot of potential. “Retail Media Network represent a huge opportunity for retailers to monetize their data and redefine business operations to drive revenue while also getting closer to shoppers”, – he said in a statement.
2. Metaverse in retail
Metaverse in retail was also a hot topic in the halls of the venue. Zarina Kanji, Head of Business Development and Marketing at Tmall Global, part of Alibaba Group, gave an insightful presentation highlighting opportunities for retailers in the metaverse.
She highlighted that the metaverse market is estimated to hit up to $5 trillion in value by 2030 and emphasised that the metaverse is a powerful strategy for attracting millennial and Gen Z consumers.
We saw many exciting projects tapping into the emerging metaverse opportunity. Popmii, a platform designed to help retailers create augmented reality experiences, showcased its solution that helps brands design immersive 3D experiences.
Zyler caught our eye with its VR-based try-on that helps fashion brands present their designs to customers in a personalized and immersive way.
3. Omnichannel Experiences for a Store of the Future
During the pandemic, online retail exploded while in-store sales took a backseat. Last year saw a brick-and-mortar rebond, with a 7.2% YoY-increase in physical store sales.
As a result, catering to both online and offline shoppers might be the most reasonable strategy for retailers to adopt moving forward.
At the Retail Technology Show, Amy Bastow, founder of StorIQ and Robert Newstead, Global Retail Operations Director Region North at PVH Corp., took the stage to explore ways in which innovation helps retailers build omnichannel experiences. They presented the ‘Store of the Future’ initiative that helped transform PVH Europe’s retail operations.
Among the companies pushing the envelope of retail innovation was Gebit Solutions, a German connected retail vendor. The company presented its suite of solutions for omnichannel retail, self-checkout, and campaign management.
4. NFTs in retail
NFTs went from making everyone confused to generating hype to being questioned as a promising retail trend.At the same time, the NFT market is expected to break $1.6 billion in value by the end of the year so it still has a lot to offer in retail and beyond.
A talk by Nina Patel, former Director of Innovation in Retail and Web3 at Farfetch helped demistify NFT myths and offer actionable ways for retailers to capitalize on the trend.
Nina shared the practices adopted by her team at Farfetch to help create luxury in-store experience and keep customers engaged both in-person and digitally.
5. AI helps drive retail profit
There can hardly be any doubt about it: 2023 is the year of AI. The release of ChatGPT lit the fuse of generative AI initiatives in Big Tech and made machine learning innovations more accessible to companies across all industries.
As retailers are trying to find coping mechanisms for the recession, many wonder about ways to maximize the impact of artificial intelligence that would help cut operational costs and drive profit.
The impact of artificial intelligence on retail was widely acknowledged this week in London. John Mildinhall, Head of Data Science for Retail, Digital & Technology at Marks & Spencer, shared his take on the applications of data science in retail.
The host kept his promise to avoid ChatGPT content in the presentation, focusing instead on ways to build a high-performance AI engineering team, and match tech tools to business objectives.
The talk resonated with us quite deeply since building machine learning and data science tools is the key focus of the Xenoss team. We were also impressed with the innovations exhibited at the event: Apteco’s use of predictive analytics for data activation and the use of data science by Nextail to help retailers anticipate demand and allocate the right number of product units.
6. Growth of mobile retail
As catering to Gen Z is slowly taking center stage in marketing strategies, retailers are looking for ways to meet the younger generation where it’s seen the most: on their phones. At this year’s RTS, a lot of innovations involved mobile retail, and it was a common discussion point across many panels.
Both lecturers are committed to working with the next generation of marketers and advertisers, which contributed to their firsthand understanding of Gen Z shoppers – their preferences, habits, and purchasing behaviors.
The speakers did an excellent job of combining personal experience with large set of data points, giving event attendees a solid understanding of best practices and trends in mobile retail.
7. Retailers are tapping into first-party data
It’s safe to say MarTech, AdTech, and SalesTech have been under scrutiny due to the tightening privacy grip. With the sunset of cookies looming over the sell-side, there’s more pressure to find alternative ways of collecting and activating customer data.
That’s why now, more than ever, it’s time for retail media to shine and build a presence in the AdTech space. Retailers’ ability to seize the opportunity will highly depend on their readiness to leverage first-party data and the infrastructure they put in place.
The challenges and opportunities of first-party data were the focus of a panel of business intelligence experts from major retail chains. Panelists shared actionable ways for retailers to tap into first-party data, tools that help improve data management, and steps to take to protect sensitive information.
As a MarTech development partner, we were specifically interested in the section of the talk covering the approach to building CDP solutions and found ourselves nodding along the presentation.
Among the event exhibitors, some had a very confident stance on first-party data activation. Decathlon, for one, has a robust toolset for first-party data activation.
Costa Coffee, too, unveiled a new targeting platform to make the most out of its loyalty program data.
8. Push for sustainability
A consolidation of sustainability efforts among retailers was another macrotrend highlighted at the Retail Technology Show. As more consumers believe we are nearing the tipping point of the climate change, they put more pressure for immediate action on retailers. As a result, brands are encouraged to rethink the sustainability of their operations and prioritize eco-friendly production, packaging, and supply chains.
A panel led by Paula Maccagi, Head of Partnerships and Global Strategy at RETHINK Retail, became an excellent summary of sustainability trends and challenges in retail.
A group of sustainability leaders covered the value of ESG factors compared to other differentiators (quality and price), real-life examples of brands prioritizing sustainability, metrics companies should adopt to track the effectiveness of their efforts.
In the same vein, we were able to see many companies presenting sustainable technologies at the event. Faradai showed how the platform leverages IoT and predictive analytics to help retailers like IKEA track and save energy and improve the sustainability of their operations. CircularX, which also took home the RTS Innovation Awards, helps support secondhand retailers and promote a circular economy. Dropit Shopping empowers hands-free delivery to reduce the costs and emissions associated with getting an online order to a customer’s doorstep. Source: Retail Technology Show
The two days we spent in at the Olympia Exhibition Center were jam-packed with insights and thought-provoking ideas. It was a pleasure to see industry leaders come together to share knowledge, address pressing concerns, and reach a satisfying conclusion: tech is the answer that can keep retail afloat amidst the winds of the recession.
It’s unclear when the socio-economic pressures will subside, and hard to say with certainty who among retailers will emerge as winners and losers. One thing is certain: the Xenoss team will do their best to join the crowd of retail conversation next year as well!