Blog Post - Naji El-Arifi, Oct 30 2018

Tech.Retail Week - only the smartest retailer will survive

Tech.Retail Week - only the smartest retailer will survive

Every year, the best and brightest minds discuss the latest innovations at Tech.Retail Week. Retailers, tech suppliers, start-ups and investors come together to debate how they will not only survive the digital revolution, but thrive in it. We were proud to have some of our brightest and best technology experts and thought leaders at the event, and below we share our key takeaways.

New technologies such as virtual shopping, the connected fridge and Zero UI - the use of voice and gestures through digital assistants to shop - are creating entirely new opportunities that we cannot ignore. But the first step for retailers can often be, quite literally, a learning curve. Without gaining the first-hand knowledge and information, the retail world can feel like a very daunting place to navigate.

The beauty of Tech.Retail Week is that it encourages a collaborative approach. It is the perfect place to discuss the trends revolutionising the industry, look at how shoppers are purchasing their favourite products and services, and, ultimately, invest in the right technology for your target customer.

What is social commerce... and why should you care?

Everyone is talking about it as the next big thing. But what do we actually know about social commerce? At present, it related to advertising and using social media platforms to link back to retailers' websites to facilitate a purchase. However, the savvier channels are already investing in a direct shopping model; Instagram recently introduced personalised shopping channels on its Stories channel.

This is a huge opportunity for retailers because we live in a social media generation. A generation where mobile devices account for 75% of UK adults' time online. And, as shoppers further invest in social media, retailers must do the same.

There is also a hidden benefit for brands to directly partner with influencers as a powerful engagement strategy. With the developing demands of consumer lifestyles, capturing commerce through social channels where your customers spend the majority of their time is going to be essential.

Zero UI is no longer a trend, but the future of shopping

If you're talking a smart-home device to arrange your calendar, or order groceries, then rest assured, you're not alone. It's estimated that by 2023, voice assistant controlled smart homes are expected to grow by 1,000% (no, that is not a typo!).

From Amazon Echo to Google Home, technology providers have already begun investing in this space. In fact, it is funny to consider that we have been using voice to complete basic tasks for years. Apple's Siri and Samsung's Bixby are two examples of how we use voice to write text, set reminders, and call contacts. The use is already evident, but the potential to integrate this in the shopping experience is all too obvious to avoid.

We use voice because it is easy and convenient. The same can be said about the rise of eCommerce. The likes of Amazon thrive because it is convenient to shop online. And that's why Zero UI isn't just another trend, but the trend to change retail. IT won't be long until we are all using Amazon Alexa, or another popular device, to add items to our basket, check the delivery status on our phone and see it arrive the next day. The future of shopping is now, and it will be led by voice.

Quickly moving, or not moving enough - do what is right for your customer

It's clear to see how technology is positively impacting the retail world. But that isn't to say each piece of technology is the right technology for your customer. Every single retailer and brand will have a unique audience. And that audience will expect a forward-thinking, smart and tailored service.

We talk about Amazon as a leader in the market because it has created a vast ecosystem that is quite unparalleled. It is at the forefront of innovation and is continuously creating services that better the customer experience. However, every single idea it introduced ties back to its core principles.

The latter is the most important point to take away from Tech.Retail Week, where technology and ideas are on show around every corner. Retailers must invest in the right technology for their customer, be entrepreneurial and use events like Tech.Retail Week to identify areas to grow the business. Do this, and you will thrive.

If you'd like to investigate any of the above ideas further, contact Naji, Head of Innovation at Salmon, a Wunderman Commerce Company, who can help you solve problems in new, creative ways for your business in a digital-first world.

Contact Naji