ACI ICELAND ‘Retail is evolve or die; it’s survival of the fittest’

The 28th ACI Europe Airport Commercial & Retail Conference & Exhibition featured a standout address from Retail Analyst Natalie Berg, who challenged the industry to think seriously about whether it sticks or twists in the current economic headwinds. Luke Barras- Hill reports from Reykjavík, Iceland.

translates to an airport setting.”

Bricks & mortar ‘not dead’ She continued: “In the future, we will see a growing disparity between winners and losers because what we are seeing now is retail Darwinism; it is evolve or die, it is survival of the fittest.” However, she noted that bricks and

mortar retail isn’t going away anytime soon, illustrating how Amazon, Alibaba and have jumped into the space. Touching on the ‘Amazon effect’,

Above: Natalie Berg says the retail market is going through a huge and painful transition, which will result in more job losses, store closures and bankruptcies. Source: ACI Europe Events.


elegates attending last month’s ACI commercial and retail event in Iceland

– the Nordic island nation defined by its resplendent landscape of hot springs, geysers, volcanoes and glaciers – received a warm greeting from hosts Isavia. But the conference, which took

place at the Harpa conference and music centre in Reykjavík, 18-20 March, featured a wake-up call on the threats facing the retail market. Natalie Berg, Retail Analyst,

Author and Founder, NBK Retail outlined how the convergence of multiple, seamless retail consumption touchpoints are vying directly with traditional retail for the attentions of consumers. Amazon and its Alexa platform

epitomises an age in which convenience and choice is king, she

“Retail isn’t dying; mediocre retail is. The future of retail is blended so we will continue to see an acceleration in the convergence of online and offline.”

Natalie Berg, Retail Analyst, Author & Founder, NBK Retail


said during an immersive address. “We’ve seen a proliferation of

delivery services – same day, next day, scheduled time slots…some retailers are opening the door to your house delivering to your fridge.”

Retail ‘Darwinism’ at play With the advent of click and collect, consumers have access to millions of products at their fingertips. “E-commerce is the holy grail –

but pure-play e-commerce is dead,” she continued. “The role of the store was transactional, today they are experiential and having to redefine the physical space. “In 2015 I predicted that by

2020 we would see the death of pure-play e-commerce and got a lot of raised eyebrows. “If you think about how customer

expectations will continue to evolve in the coming years, Amazon Go is coming to Europe and is likely to open in London. “If being able to skim the shelves

becomes a norm for a high street store, what will our expectations be in an airport where time is a precious commodity? “We need to think about how

consumers’ expectations are being supercharged and how that

Berg said the technology company is in ‘experimentation mode’, having opened event-driven pop-ups, lockers, checkout-free shops and branded kiosks in the US. “In the future, we will see a greater

divergence between functional shopping and fun shopping,” she said. Rethinking the terminology of

shopping can play a big part in this, Berg suggested, referencing Apple’s insistence on shops being called Apple retail ‘squares’ in a bid to tap new consumer sentiment. Elsewhere, Lidl has opened up

in an Ikea store in Portugal; in the UK, Next has moved into Tesco and Oasis; and Argos has moved into Sainsbury’s. Ocado, Google and other

technology companies are also benefitting from Amazon’s rise as retail becomes more frictionless and personalised. Concluding, she said: “Retail

isn’t dying; mediocre retail is. The future of retail is blended so we will continue to see an acceleration in the convergence of online and offline.” «

The 29th Airport Commercial & Retail Conference & Exhibition takes place in Prague, Czech Republic, 21-23 April 2020.

APRIL 2019

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