Shoptalk Europe, the commerce innovation event was held on 8–11 October in Copenhagen seeing over 2,300 attendees and more than 225 speakers. The event saw an impressive line-up of speakers including Michael Ward, Managing Director at Harrods and Mariangela Marseglia, Director at Amazon Prime Now, to name a few.
One of the key takeaways of the event was that physical retail is going to stay with us in the long term. Jerry Storch, former CEO of Hudson’s Bay Company, made a passionate speech about how Amazon and other e-commerce players will not kill retailers, as they just master one out of one hundred possible ways in which consumers will interact with retailers.
“There are more than a 100 ways to interact with a customer. What will win in the end are the all-channel retail brands that manage to tick all the boxes”
Further evidence of this was provided by Terry von Bibra, General Manager in Europe for Alibaba who shared how Alibaba is going physical, buying malls and department stores across China. Their decision to invest in brick-and-mortar further supports the multi-channel retail approach and indicates the direction in which retail is heading.
Two other core themes were widely covered by several speakers:
- Growing importance of artificial intelligence and machine learning: Retail AI has the ability to acquire knowledge and learn patterns about customer preferences and buying behavior, which can then be used to improve inventory management, visual merchandising, marketing, and the overall customer experience. The end result is a positive impact on revenue and profitability, and a smooth shopping experience for the customer.
According to TechCrunch, “in the first half of 2017 venture, corporate and seed investors have put an estimated $3.6 billion into AI and machine learning companies. That’s more than they invested in all of 2016.”
- Collaboration and sharing of data across channels: Insights and data should be shared to optimise both online and in-store processes. This will further enable a seamless integration of physical and digital businesses, and foster a harmonious omnichannel customer experience, thus strengthening a brand’s position in the market.
Nextail had the honour to contribute as a speaker on the Emerging Technologies Spotlight track. Joaquín, our CEO and cofounder, spoke about the importance of applying predictive analytics to decision-making in commerce, and about how the the future of retail will be based around two axes, buying experience and speed.
Scott Galloway, professor of marketing at NYU Stern, recently acknowledged in his book “The Four: The Hidden DNA of Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google”, that having physical stores enabled Apple to provide an unparalleled brand and product experience, which has been the key driver behind their rapid growth and success over competitors including Samsung. In fact, digital born businesses like Amazon and Warby Parker are opening physical stores as they have realised the competitive advantage that this offers in terms of brand experience and human interaction.
“Apple’s decision of opening retail stores has created more shareholder value than any other decision in the history of business.”
Speed will be critical for success at all levels: from designing a new capsule to capture a trend, to optimising the allocation and rebalancing the channels to enhance product rotation, to fulfilling an online order in 30 minutes. However, speed cannot be achieved with the processes and systems that come from manufacturing and wholesale and follow business rules of the last century. Retailers must adapt processes and adopt new technologies to enhance and automate decision making, in order to harness speed.
In that context, Nextail has built a platform to better align supply and demand through the use of prescriptive analytics and artificial intelligence, with the end goal of reducing the business loss caused by end-of-season leftovers while improving the way customers find and buy products.
During his presentation Joaquín announced Nextail’s new buying application, which will help online and offline retailers decide how many units to buy of each size of a given product. This latest development, which is currently being tested with Nextail’s clients and open for retailers who want to be beta-testers, will be ready early 2018 and will complement the existing solution for inventory optimisation. As Joaquín explains,
“Buying requires a mix of analytics and intuition. Nextail’s prescriptive algorithms can predict trends and provide insight on what will sell well and what will not, to recommend how many units to buy of each product. We apply a collaborative approach to couple our predictions with the intuition of buyers and the distributed knowledge within the retailer.”
Thank you Shoptalk for inviting us as speakers at Shoptalk Europe and allowing us to be a part of this amazing event. Thank you also for inviting us to be speakers at the next Shoptalk event taking place in Vegas. See you next March at Shoptalk 2018!