5 Key Talking Points From London’s Big Retail Tech Event
Retail technology refers to the use of technological tools and solutions within the retail industry to optimize operations, enhance the customer experience, and increase overall efficiency. Flooid joined industry innovators and leaders at the Retail Technology Show in London recently.
Here are 5 key talking points from the Retail Technology event:
- The ‘Data-Informed’ Approach
- Enabling Your People
- Fail Fast
- Responsible Retail
- Continual Change
1. The ‘Data-Informed’ Approach
Paul Sims, Chief Architect at Primark, gave an entertaining speech covering his attitudes toward data usage, where he quoted at length from DJ Shadow’s Urgent, Important, Please Read, and described how he deals with phone-based fraudsters. He described how intentions are seen as the best indicator of behaviour, but stressed: “Can you really be in control if an algorithm knows you better than you know yourself?”. Retailers should use technology to advise, guide and inform customers, rather than cajole or coerce them.
He stressed that the industry should use augmented artificial intelligence with human intelligence, so AI as a ‘tool’, not a ‘solution’. The outcome of this is to be ‘data-informed’ rather than ‘data-driven’. Retailers should also remember there is a “fine line between being helpful and being creepy” when collecting and using data.
Flooid encourages this data-informed approach with our Insights capabilities, which enables retailers to quickly and intuitively dive into store operational statistics to spot patterns or opportunities. You can read more about Flooid Insights in our Insights in an instant White Paper.
“Data-informed is the right way forward, not data-driven.”
- Paul Sims, Chief Architect, Primark
2. Enabling Your People
TV and podcast host Jake Humphrey led a session on How Can Retail Leaders Ensure their Workforce Can Truly Perform At Their Highest Level? He discussed the importance of being a purpose-driven business, adding: “Retail has never been more challenging than it is now. Retailers have to adopt a high-performance mindset… Every decision you take has to be a vote for the business you want to be.”
Across the show floor, technology providers described new software and hardware that enables retail associates to spend more time selling and delivering value, and less time ‘tasking’. There was a similar approach to warehouse picking efficiency, including using wearables for scanning items, and consolidating and simplifying user interfaces for store managers and associates.
Flooid is also helping to equip frontline staff for success with our new mobile app, Empower, which allows associates to monitor and manage self-checkouts with real-time information in their hands. Read more about Empower in our One Sheet.
“High performance is doing the best you can, where you are, with what you’ve got.”
- Jake Humphrey, host of the High-Performance Podcast
3. Fail Fast
Jake Humphrey was clear that failure is a necessary price of success. He said “failure is the price of ambition”, “failure is where the growth is”, and “framing what failure looks like to you – if you fail often, you’re pushing yourself to your limits.” This idea of innovating quickly and learning as you go was a constant throughout the conference. Cassandra Bergsland, Director of Omnichannel, John Lewis & Partners, described an “investing in experimentation” approach, adding: “you have to fail quickly.”
“Fail early and fail forwards by taking the learning from the failure.”
- Jake Humphrey, host of the High-Performance Podcast
Of course, retailers should still take the necessary steps to protect their operations, margins and people when trying new things. Flooid’s cloud blueprint and managed services allow retailers to ‘spin up’ proof of concepts speedily without risk, then scale up successful pilots quickly, consistently and at lowered costs.
4. Responsible Retail
Flooid’s micro-donations partner Pennies exhibited and spoke at the show. Alison Hutchinson CBE, CEO of Pennies, described herself as ‘Chief Passionate Officer’ as she shared incredible achievements about the growth in micro-donations at points-of-purchase. Hutchinson said a million customers each year were choosing to contribute, adding: “every second there is a click from a customer in the UK.” Her fellow panel members agreed on the need for ‘authenticity’ in ESG commitments. Jonathon Swaine, Managing Director – Pubs, Shepherd Neame, described the deployment of Pennies: “It’s a very good exercise in bonding people together around your shared purpose.”
“Three out of four people like to make micro-donations.”
- Alison Hutchinson CBE, CEO of Pennies
Read more about Flooid’s product integration and partnership with Pennies here.
5. Continual Change
Many event attendees believe retail will continue to evolve fast rather than settle down into predictable patterns post-pandemic. However, the speed and nature of change remains a hot debate. For example, speakers and delegates were split on how fast self-service will grow. Retailers also spoke of a fast-moving fraud environment that needed to be combatted with new technology. Attitudes to AI – both its usage and speed of deployment – were mixed. But it was clear that the vast majority of delegates still believe physical stores are key to a successful retail operation.
“We have to realise that people aren’t predictable. We have to recognise people are experimenting again.”
- Cassandra Bergsland, Director of Omnichannel, John Lewis & Partners
Flooid’s unified commerce platform is built as an open, flexible, composable solution to give retailers freedom to innovate across their entire selling ecosystem. Whether it’s experimenting with new endpoint journeys in store, joining verticals into a one point-of-sale solution, or improving your understanding of what is selling best, how, when and why, Flooid can help you achieve your retail ambitions.
What did you think of Retail Technology Show? Join the debate at #RTS2023.