- ‘If ever there was time for radical change, it’s now,’ says Retail Week editor Luke Tugby
- Retail Week Live takes place 24 – 25 May, Old Billingsgate
24 May 2022, LONDON, UK:
Retailers have been urged to come to terms with the ‘radical change’ facing the sector, during the first day of this year’s Retail Week Live (24 -25 May, Old Billingsgate, London), a two-day event for businesses across the retail ecosystem.
Mary Portas: “The way we live and shop has fundamentally changed.”
This was led by retail champion Mary Portas who called on retail businesses to work harder to find ‘meaningful philosophies’ that connect with customers when she told attendees: “This is a new world we’re entering. Covid was a catalyst for many cultural changes that were bubbling under for such a long time and now the way we live and shop has fundamentally changed.
“We know we’re killing our planet, so people are thinking much more carefully about where they’re buying from. And we’re seeing so many social injustices in the world and people with much less, leveraged by the war in Ukraine and prices going up. The heart of great retail is always understanding those changes that are happening and being able to serve them and give the best response to people.
“We’ve seen so many retailers fail because they were operationally brilliant but lacked this creative heart. What they were missing is the big piece in the middle which is about how you connect through your behaviours to your customers.
“To succeed, businesses need a philosophy that is the way they truly behave. Not just a purpose or the vision of what they stand for but a real belief system that connects to what people actually now believe in.”
The two-day Retail Week Live event shines a spotlight on the outstanding people, projects and partnerships currently defining the sector. By close of play tomorrow, more than 800 visitors will have heard and learnt from over 120 speakers, met 20 of the latest start-ups in Retail Week Live’s Discovery Zone and networked with attendees from across the ecosystem and of varying levels within businesses.
Retail Week editor Luke Tugby: ‘If ever there was time for radical change, it’s now.
Launching the event, Retail Week editor Luke Tugby said that the series of ‘existential headwinds’, such as spiraling inflation, the cost of living crisis, supply chain disruption and labour shortages, was making it a tougher than ever environment for retailers.
He said: “Winning customer loyalty, growing sales, attracting a skilled and diverse workforce, and doing good for the planet has always been tough in our brilliantly competitive UK market – but doing so has never been more difficult, nor more important, than it is today.
“Businesses must constantly evolve if they are to achieve those goals and retain relevance. If ever there was time for radical change, it’s now.”
Boohoo chief information officer Jo Graham: ‘Hone in on those experiences that make you feel valued as a shopper’
The opening keynote was presented by Boohoo’s Chief Information Officer Jo Graham who echoed the need for radical change but warned that retailers were at risk of looking for innovation in the wrong places, with too many prioritising data over actionable, first-person insight.
She said: “Think about when you are shopping and your own experiences, and what you liked and didn’t like. We often just shop, note it and move on. But just imagine how radical it would be if you honed in on those experiences that really made you feel valued as a shopper, and really tried to understand what it was about it that made you feel valued as a customer.”
And this was reiterated by Sean Hallows, Chief Operating Officer at The Very Group, which is back on track for a £4billion IPO next year, who told the audience: “Customer experience is more important than ever as we navigate life after the pandemic and the cost of living crunch bites. It’s absolutely fundamental to put that at the forefront of any decision you make and never take it for granted.
“A great app or vast amounts of stock in your warehouse are not enough to make you stand out in a crowded marketplace, where customers are spoiled for choice. But harnessing the collective power of tech, data and flexible fulfilment creates a formidable force to drive customer experience forwards.”
An in-depth report into the thinking and technology needed to transform’s retail supply chain, produced in partnership with Retail Week’s partner GreyOrange was also shared at this year’s Retail Week Live.
It found that supply chain visibility (42%), accurate stock levels (36%) and improving warehouse and factory working conditions (30%) were their top investment priorities for the 50 retail supply chain and IT leaders surveyed for the report.
30% also said they wanted their retailer business to collaborate with more third parties, followed by reskilling frontline staff on fulfilment (16%) and diversifying suppliers (14%).
And Zara, Ocado and Tesco were named as businesses leading the charge when it comes to supply chain management.
People and planet
This year Retail Week Live is split into two distinct focuses, with tomorrow (25 May) focusing on people and the planet.
Speakers will include Guillaume Chesneau, UK MD of Nespresso, who will discuss with Sarah Clark, CEO of Frugi and Tom Warner, the founder of Warner’s Gin how to better empower shoppers to live more sustainably and ask how a sustained approach to business growth could replace the pursuit of profit.
Jo Whitfield, Chief Executive of Co-op Food, Richard Walker, Managing Director of Iceland and Luke Jensen CEO of Ocado Solutions will look to the future of grocery.
And retail charity the Retail Trust will call on retail leaders to better protect the wellbeing of its workforce with the release of a new report that reveals how many workers are now at risk of leaving the industry.