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Retail Summit 2017: New, Connected Customer in the Focus

More than one thousand of retailers and their suppliers were discussing at Retail Summit 2017 in Prague how to run the business in the times when digital transformation changes both demand and competition.

The greatest attention was centered on the presentations dedicated to the customers and their changed shopping habits and possibilities of its better understanding via new technologies.

More than one thousand of participants of Retail Summit 2017 which was held between January 30 and February 1, 2017 in Clarion Congress Hotel Prague had vivid debate how to cope with the market where the traditional boundaries are disappearing. The brick & mortar and internet shops thus converge. However, the barriers between manufacturing and retail trade disappear too and it is much easier to cross also the geographical boundaries. To all the players this brings not only challenges and risks, but also new business development opportunities.

The King is Coming

Retail Summit 2017 was unique not only due to the historically highest participation, but mainly because of the strong focus on the customer and his changing behavior. Such a great amount of experts analyzing and explaining the behavior of "His Majesty" – the customer - took part in none of the previous 22 editions of this top retailers´ meeting. As Petra Průšová, the main researcher of Kantar CEE, stressed in the beginning of the conference, the customer journeys are much more complex than they used to be. Different consumers choose different ways and there are more touchpoints between the brands and customers. This creates a huge risk that the brands will not communicate consistently and they will lose their customers. Tim Mason, the British retail marketing strategist from Eagle Eye Solutions, mentioned in this context that digital and mobile technologies have transformed our lives thanks to the personalisation, relevancy and convenience they bring, however the retail uses them in a limited way so far. As a consequence, the digital transformation often stops at the shop door. Retailers miss the ability to orientate themselves in the huge number of data they acquire from online world. The customers´ activities in brick & mortar world often stay as mysterious as they were in the analogue era.

However, the time is changing even in this respect. Roman Janovič (Cisco) and Michal Tomčík (Pygmalios) demonstrated that the Internet of Things may already serve as a tool for getting to know the customer also in a brick & mortar store and it enables a personalized experience. Thanks to the latest technologies, advanced sensors and behavioural analytics will help retailers to design the stores, to facilitate the navigation to the required product or to adapt the loyalty program personalized for individual client.

One Market and One World

The retail and the household consumption are one of the motors of national economy, the Czech one in not the exception. It is logical that the retail market is crucial for generating of state incomes and it is in the center of the attention in terms of the tax collection. Therefore, it is not a surprise that also the Minister of Finance, Andrej Babiš, choose this topic for his speech. For that matter, he organized a separated "EET" seminar where he introduced to representatives of small and medium sized companies electronic evidence of sales (EET) that the retail will be joining on March 1st. The retail business does not produce just taxes, it also fulfils number of social roles. Mainly, it gives a job to the high number of employees. As Marta Nováková, the President of Czech Confederation of Commerce and Tourism, stressed during the following discussion, this often includes those who would have difficulties to find a job otherwise. To the question of the social responsibility in the business and its relation to the key partners, mainly suppliers, was dedicated the top-to-top panel discussion. Thanks to the elite representation of both retail and manufacturers this years´ discussion was really interesting and it will be given a particular consideration in the separate press release.

One of key topics of Retail Summit 2017 – the business in the boundary-free world – was covered by Miroslav Hošek, Czech manager of the large U.S. based company, doing a global business. He brought good news - that even a smaller company may succeed in the global market if it follows few proven principles. One of the most important principles is originality. If the offer of a product shall be sustainable in a long term on the global market, it has to be unique and based on well formulated and relevant key competencies that cannot be easily adopted by the competition on the global market. The way and timing of penetration to the global market is very important too. To become successful and maintain the position, there are more preparations needed than just identification of the target customer group. It is necessary to clearly define the issues of geographical strategy, optimal channels of distribution, commitment to a long-term strategy, product support on the market, and risk management.

What is the Response of Retailers?

It the introduction to the session dedicated to the future of the commerce in the connected world was mentioned again that the consumer will represent the greatest force that will shape the form of the Czech retail. According to the prognosis of GfK Retail Vision 2020, presented by Tomáš Drtina and Zdeněk Skála, the customer focus thus becomes the main opportunity for further business development. However, this has to respond by both modification of the internal processes and changes on the sales and marketing side. New technologies in the sales area, fundamental change of business formats and omnichannel communication – that are the crucial effects of these changes. The biggest barrier – and the opportunity at the same time – lays in the development of the retail staff. On the one hand, its price dramatically increases and its availability drops, while the significance of its role in the retail increases on all levels. The ability to find and train the right people for the right positions will significantly affect the competitiveness of retailers and the entire industry.

Stanislav Zrcek from Wincor Nixdorf confirmed that the technology is less challenging than the people are. Technology is ready for the connected world and can enable "connected commerce" at economically realistic and feasible conditions. The platforms that combine the physical and digital worlds drive costs saving in brick & mortar stores and as a consequence, the investment into the development of digital retail channels is possible. The companies and their internal structures are significantly less prepared. Therefore, various organizational changes may be expected, including the massive consolidation wave. Jitka Dvořáková from the management of the newly created Mall Group revealed what is the leading motivation for consolidation for the investors, and what it is for the Founders or Internet visionaries. She indicated that the consolidation in the connected era will hardly stay restricted on e-commerce only and it will affect whole retail and consumer business.

The Basic Information about Retail Summit 2017

About Retail Summit 2017
When: January 30 – February 1, 2017
Where: Congress Hotel Clarion, Prague

More Information: Barbora Krásná, Blue Events
barbora.krasna@blueevents.eu

Media Contact: Lukáš Koutník, Blue Events
lukas.koutnik@blueevents.eu

More about Partnership: Jiří Beneš, Blue Events
jiri.benes@blueevents.eu

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