Highlights from the World Retail Congress 2017

Highlights from the World Retail Congress 2017

Dressipi were thrilled to be selected as one of 5 start-ups who exhibited at the recent World Retail Congress in Dubai. In this post Philippa Mew, Marketing & PR Associate of Dressipi shares her highlights.

Highlights from the World Retail Congress 2017

Bringing together over 130 leaders from the global retail industry, the theme for this year’s event was Reimagining the Customer Experience.

A variety of brilliant talks were held over the three days, with many of them centered around meeting consumers’ needs at a time when the pace of innovation is rapid, and the expectations of exceptional customer experiences are higher than ever before.

The following represent my top highlights from the event:

1) Retailers Who Help Their Customers Make Better, Faster Decisions will Win

According to Martijn Bertisen (Director of Retail & Technology, Google), we are living in a decade of a “smartphone revolution”.

Martijn declared that we no longer “go” online, we “live” online, connecting with our devices over 150 times a day. This gives retailers a huge opportunity to connect with their customers, however, they must also obsess over speed — half of users abandon after just three seconds.

Martijn’s three trends to watch included:

  • Machine Learning- Use data to keep learning. Emphasis must be placed on developing smarter machines that can adapt on the go. Gathering insights and making real changes based on these is what will drive innovation forward.
  • Immersive Experiences - In years gone by we would treasure our pen and take it everywhere with us – this has now evolved into whatever device helps make our lives easier and more efficient. The rise of more and more connected devices around the home reflects this.
  • Faster Decision Making - The consumer is faced with far too much choice. The winners are the retailers who are going to help their customers make faster and better decisions, whether that is through natural language search or more personalized shopping journeys. In short, retailers need to show up when the customer wants them to.

2) Physical Stores Need to Provide Emotional Experiences

For mass market retailers seeking to survive the new “horizontal world” Laurie Ann Goldman (PE Board Director and Advisor, Joe & The Juice) declared that the emotional experience gained by shopping should not be underestimated. She claimed that customers still look for one-to-one interactions to help them to find exactly what they want. The challenge, naturally, was in providing this intimate in-store experience at scale.

In addition, Terry Lundgren (Executive Chairman, Macy’s) highlighted that bricks & mortar stores are here to stay. He claimed that they are “still crucial in the changing retail landscape” and that we need to think more deeply about how to reinvent malls, especially in the US which has three times more retail space per consumer than the global average. He believes that exclusive product, exciting store experiences and online investment will all contribute to saving US department stores.

3) ‘Customer Experience’ is Becoming an Overused Phrase

Mindy Grossman (CEO, HSN, Inc) stated that by 2020 there will be 50 billion connected devices, approximately double the number that exists today. Her question, however, was, “how do we use these to create relevant, authentic ways to live our lives?”

In her view, “customer experience” is an overused phrase – the future is living a “connected life of meaning through inspired product, innovation and technology”, with retailers understanding that they must serve a customer’s needs as well as sell brilliant products.

4) Competence Transcends Gender and Race

Another highlight of the event was the World Retail Awards, where Dressipi were nominated for the Rodney Fitch Award for Innovation & Creativity.

The well-deserved winner of the Woman of the Year award was Zyda Rylands (CEO, Woolworths South Africa). Rylands is an incredibly inspirational figure who was recognised for her impressive commercial success in the retail sector, having been with Woolworths for over a decade. Although Zyda expressed that “competence transcends gender and race”, she highlighted that there is still work to do to raise the profile of women in the retail sector and improve gender diversity in the leadership space.

In summary, the World Retail Congress was a resounding success and reaffirmed to me that Dressipi is innovating in a space where retailers are crying out for solutions that help them serve their customers to the best of their ability.