Retail Summit 2018: Balance requires cooperation and respect to a human

More than a thousand dealers and their suppliers discussed at the Retail Summit 2018 on how to achieve a balance in the retail market. It is currently changing sharply, not only with the presence of new technologies, but also with the explosion of wage costs, shifts in consumer demand, and arrival of new players.

Brick-and-mortar shops vs. e-shops, human vs artificial intelligence, emotions vs. sense. Balancing is the hot topic of these days, and the Retail Summit 2018 is therefore devoted to it from the point of view of all major players in the retail market. At Clarion Congress Hotel in Prague on 5 - 7 February 2018, more than a thousand dealers and suppliers met to discuss how to continue in the market, which is characterized by high dynamics of change and by a number of opposing interests at the same time.


The main program of the Retail Summit 2018 logically launched a series of performances dedicated to the key element of the market - the human. Psychiatrist Radkin Honzák told marketers that a person who is proudly labelled as a Homo sapiens sapiens (tumultuously reasonable) is formed in Homo stupidus consumens. He is accustomed to the fact that when something does not work, he simply returns it, exchanges it or throws it away instead of fixing it. It has not only impacts on personal life but also on business. It is increasingly difficult to maintain a long-term relationship with a partner (and customer). Another significant source of imbalance is the development of our entire society. As the journalist and commentator Jindřich Šídlo ( added, the confidence of those we are trying to reach is fading - this is one of the phenomena that connects the media world with the world of business.

The real challenge for today's retail business was introduced by Jan Binar, president of the Association of Communication Agencies. He contested sharply the construct of a consumer, a man in a "shopping mood". The man, in his opinion, was never like this and will never be. There is no fidelity, it is just comfort and inertia. "For most of the time, we use an autopilot, at most we reach for what has the strongest position in our minds. Such things are simple and connected with strong emotions,” Binar says. According to him, marketers should help people make their lives and choices simpler and less complicated. "People want to use the autopilot and emotions to make their lives safe. Do not think of complicated, unnatural solutions. Let's stop disturbing people otherwise they throw us out of their lives," he warns.

However, the reality of today's retail is mostly in sharp contrast to what Jan Binar declares. This was confirmed by Lubomír Galatík of Aruba and Pavel Vrtiška of RETAILTrek. Now most marketers are trying to send promotional offers to their customers through various marketing channels, but they cannot reach the client at the right time and in the right place. Using modern technologies, we can create a platform for building and developing customer relationships, so we do not bother them and we can help them make life easier. It is not a mere vision, but a solution implemented on the first project already in the Czech Republic.


The second program block was opened by a honorable guest of the Retail Summit 2018, Albrecht Hornbach, Chairman of the Board of Directors of HORNBACH Management AG. He launched a series of presentations in which key executives from retail, banks and supply companies, showed how to achieve a balanced approach. Albrecht Hornbach highlighted the rapid changes to digitization. However, he pointed out that one crucial aspect of business remains unchanging and as important now as it was in the past. Companies need to recognize key challenges ahead, in early development stage and respond to them in time. Hornbach's approach proves that it pays off to think unconventionally and to try new ideas - even if there is no guarantee of success.

Espen B. Larsen, CEO of Penny Market, focused on the need of balance within the entire market ecosystem in which each player has to take on his role while realizing his goals. The marketers have a very important role in the "food chain", but it is also the responsible involvement of other interconnected stakeholders (vendors, consumers or representatives of the state administration).

Banks are also organic components of the new ecosystem, as documented by Marek Ditz, a member of the Board of Directors of ČSOB. Banks are changing in line with new client requirements. They expect more and more financial services, no matter where they are, and they do not want to depend on traditional banking channels. Therefore, the bank has to offer clients a growing number of services through third parties. Traditional banking is broken down into pieces (client identification, risk scoring, credit, payments, etc.) and is easily connectable to other players, especially retailers.

Grant Liversage, Chief Executive Officer of Plzeňský Prazdroj, sees the path to the balance in business in the Czech Republic in preventing commoditization, developing individual sales channels and achieving a "triple win" situation. This requires close cooperation between suppliers and their business partners, for example, in the field of buyer demand planning, depending on the situation of particular retailers. Tomáš Formánek of Logio also pointed out the retailers' inability to work properly with prices throughout the ever-expanding product portfolio. Solutions that are internally called "product-slaughtering" in Logio, are able to save tens of per cent of costs for suppliers and marketers using sophisticated analytics and artificial intelligence, as evidenced by specific numbers from companies in the Czech and the Slovak Republic.


In the final program block, three top representatives of independent Czech companies, who share a clear vision of trading in the interconnected world. However, the presented solutions were very specific and corresponded to the relevant market segment and the business philosophy of individual retailers.

Petr Borkovec, CEO of the group Sklizeno, presented the strategy of a Czech marketer of a new type. Sklizeno is based on its own distribution system, central gastronomic operations and off-line and on-line retailing. Significant growth factor is narrow cooperation between entrepreneurs and concepts, which is a phenomenon as this kind of interconnection is still inefficiently developed in local market conditions. The group invests to the selected manufacturers and processors and helps them with stability, growth and sustainability and thus contributes fundamentally to the development of independent, "non-corporate" business in our country.

Another very inspiring business story was offered by Jan Vraný, Commercial Director of Notino. He showed that e-commerce really allows trading without borders. This e-shop sells perfumes to 23 countries. The third point of view at finding a balance in the new market was introduced by David Vejtruba, the marketing director of Solvent CR, which has roots in the traditional trade. An important strategic issue, therefore is to find a balance between what Solvent has always been and what is part of its DNA (wholesaler) and what its future has to be be - a modern businessman or even an omnichannel retailer. These gradual shifts in the structure of a business enterprise logically force the change in the marketing strategy and channels through which the company communicates with customers. A separate chapter is finding a new balance in relationship to suppliers. The role of brands dominated by both types of companies has fundamentally changed. Today, retail is branded business and suppliers have a regular discussion on "which brand is more".

The main program of the 2018 Retail Summit concluded a joint performance by Pavel Jiruše, Microsoft Retail Solutions Specialist, and Martin Rys, Adastra Leadership Competence. They discussed the possibilities digitalization offers to retail to improve service and customer communication. The lecture was followed by a practical introduction to the New Generation Store, a replica of the future store, where Summit participants could experience individual scenarios of major retail business innovation.


Retail Summit 2018
5 – 7 February 2018
Clarion Congress Hotel Prague 

More information: Barbora Krásná, Blue Events 

Media Contact: Lukáš Koutník, Blue Events 

Partnership: Jiří Beneš, Blue Events

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