May 2019

There are many new players coming into the market, that didn’t exist before, or they did but with an offering that didn’t exist before. Suppliers are opening their own stores, which is a very interesting development so the role of the store has changed dramatically. In the UK, we are amazed at how

Antreas Athanassopoulos Chief Customer Officer, Dixons Carphone, spoke about how one of Europe’s largest specialist electrical retailers focuses on being led by happy colleagues, who in turn ensure happy

customers and shareholders.

much click and collect has grown. With washing machines, for example, people will collect them from store and carry them to their vans. But we are trying to find ways to encourage more of this sort of thing – more click and collect. It’s all about the concept of the customer. Our key focus points are: Customer insight – they find tech exciting but also very confusing. Customers value – somebody that can help them discover and choose products. Convert products into solutions – many retailers have moved to a services approach, but this is not stable for everyone. Treat this as a separate component. Customers are attention rich and time poor. It’s important to win trust on

a number of dimensions. We have to embrace ways to demonstrate new technology – to convert products into solutions. And unless you offer delivery and installation properly nowadays you haven’t done the job. You have to protect the product throughout its life cycle. This brings our new vision together – where everyone will enjoy amazing technology. Experience is also essential today

– creating that emotional connection. Retailers have to engage with consumers and there isn’t just one answer on how to do this. It’s about greeting the customer, the questions you ask and how you make them understand the products, because what they buy is not just a box to them. We are match-makers. On one side

we have manufacturers coming up different products, which they don’t just develop for fun, they do this based on the developing needs of consumers. And then retailers match these products with them. A good retailer will understand the needs on one side and capabilities on the other side.

Daniel Ramsay Senior Account Executive, Speciality Retail at Google, said that retail is challenged and we are sadly saying goodbye to what at one time seemed like untouchable brands. The question on everyone’s mind is not‚ could technologies like Artificial Intelligence (AI) solve retail’s problems, but how?

One area we’re focusing our efforts at the moment is in-store demand forecasting and optimisation – building towards a smarter store. Elsewhere, with Home Depot in the

“Everybody worries and, of course, we don’t know how this will work or how the market will develop. It’s the fear of the unknown. When you see a competitor having a better time than you, you worry a lot!”

USA, there are over 2,000 stores one of their problems is shelf-outs; they need to solve this problem as it’s losing them millions of dollars. If they can predict when a unit is not on the shelf, it’s found its way somewhere else in the retail environment and not showing out of stock. It’s all about predictive models so the company can get their products back on the shelf quickly. Firstly, if you are not already doing

Jean-Baptiste Thomas Director Hardline, Amazon UK, detailed how online shopping has changed the face of retail and how the giant works with manufacturers with its huge

voice-controlled platform.

Collaborations across the retail industry is the way forward to be successful – start with the customer and work backwards. Identify their various needs and try to fix these. But when you experiment, you have to accept the risk to fail, because you can learn from failure. For example, the Amazon Fire phone was a failure; we tried and failed, but it’s important to continue developing and coming up with new ideas.

If you want big innovation, you need

to fail first to see what’s what. This is the beauty of the internet because you can test various things out. Amazon Alexa is now present in 14 countries and there are around 28,000 products working with Alexa built-in to the device. Working with manufacturers and the Alexa team, we’ve got some huge collaborations and we use detail from retail to learn about new potential opportunities.

“I’ve been at Amazon for 10 years and changes are happening faster and faster; with autonomous cars, machine learning, personalised data and products. The future is very exciting.”

this, you need to start. Secondly, think very carefully about which business problems might be tackled with AI or machine learning solutions and find the right partner to go with. We are seeing some amazing gains in this space as a complete service for retailers or brands as a readymade solution. So think about a partnership to generate a better impact on your business.

“For example, Ocado in the UK has moved all of its operations to Google Cloud. We’re now carrying out predictive analysis and demand forecasting across the UK, which is a huge task with daily data.”


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