Retail Summit 2020: Record attendance and openness of a number of speeches

In 26-year history of this top meeting of retail market players, Retail Summit 2020 has stood up with the highest participation of over 1,100 managers and experts. Also, the openness and specificity of a number of speeches was unprecedented so far, confirming that "something is really happening" and our market is entering a new phase of development. The rise of new retail ecosystem with many interconnected sales and communication channels is key phenomenon of it. Thanks to the new technologies, everything is not only faster, but also significantly more transparent. Sustainability and a fair relationship with all stake-holders, as well as with the overall environment, are therefore a key strategic imperative.

This year of Retail Summit, taking place on February 3-5, 2020 at Prague Clarion Congress Hotel, was different in a number of directions from the previous 25 editions of the annual meeting of the Czech and CEE retailers. There were no lectures that would try “to paint things pink”, and on the other hand openness, sincerity and very specific expressions prevailed. No wonder – thanks to new technologies, everything becomes more transparent, information becomes more accessible, and the need to deal with things without pretense is even more acute. As Tomáš Prouza, president of the Czech Confederation of Trade and Tourism, stated at the beginning of the Summit new ecosystem is just emerging and retail trade has the opportunity to play the role of an integrator and initiator of new principles of cooperation.

The principles that Harjot Singh and Rodney Collins (McCann Worldgroup) have confirmed on the basis of extensive global research are still valid: "The basic principles of successful retail remain the same, but the way consumers experience them is changing." They followed up on the discussion of the last year's Summit and recalled that in the new market conditions, crucial attention should be paid to the customer experience.

Retail Summit 2020

New Retail: to the fullest, here and now

Nowadays, it is already clear that the future belongs to interconnected and organically co-existing online and offline channels. So more and more, terms such as "omnichannel", "connected" or "seamless retail" will appear.... or the term chosen by Retail Summit 2020 as its subtitle - „NEW RETAIL“.

Number of practical examples shown in the Summit also proved that the 2 extreme views that have often been heard in the past are not valid any more. It is the case of opinions that "brick-and-mortar trade is dead" or, conversely, that "e-Commerce cannot earn money". Kateřina Harris and Petr Pavlík (Albert ČR) described it very clearly in their joint performance: "These are not two worlds that are in opposition. Opinion in Ahold Delhaize Group about the new retail ecosystem is that online and offline channels complement each other". Perhaps most drastic comments on the topic were given by the pioneer of online food sales Tomáš Čupr (Rohlík), who, in addition to the profitable balance of his e-supermarket, announced also the acquisition of the brick & mortar chain Sklizeno.

Wijnand Jongen (Ecommerce Europe) who introduced the summit participants to the main ideas of his book „End of online shopping: The future of retail in a connected world“, explained the situation in detail. The facts are essentially simple: "New generations of consumers require new ways of shopping, anytime and anywhere. Online and offline are meeting their needs and together transform retail into the form of a new retail business.". This is a process that is already well developed also in our country. Lukáš Havlásek (Shopsys) confirmed this with the help of results of the unique research among more than 50 managers and experts. Retailers plan to take the best out of two “worlds” in order to simplify as much as possible. The key challenge for „new retail“ might be finding shop assistants with the capability of offering goods and services in multi-channel environment.

Technology: now and really

In principle, retailers and their suppliers solve the same fundamental problems as in the past. But as Richard Siebenstich (O2 Czech Republic) noted: "What is different today is the technologies that help customers make decisions better, faster and ultimately cheaper by avoiding mistakes".

Technology is undoubtedly the driving force behind the development of the new ecosystem. However, the way technologies enter the real business is often also the reason that their potential is far from being exploited to the fullest. Innovation has so far appeared "in parts" and has not always been easy to be integrated into operation. Retailers and suppliers of goods have been, and partially still are, attacked by the offer of partial solutions, functional parts of the hardware, specialized software, a flood of "revolutionary" applications, etc. However, technology companies have overcome a huge part of the journey and are now able to offer all this at once, with one hot line. Apparently, however, it is still little. So we can only look forward that this year might become a turning point. 2020 should be the year of integration.

It's not a false promise. Dalibor Kačmář and other Microsoft experts demonstrated real cases of the integrated approach to technology application. In cooperation with a number of other companies, they presented the practical implementation of interconnected technologies in the future store. As part of the expert discussions, it was explained how to build a data-driven retail ecosystem. On the road from vision to reality, the necessary prerequisites are the change in corporate culture and the involvement of all employees in companies´ operations. An integral part of this transformation is also the change in the nature of IT department into the data provider for business and the service partner.

Sustainability: from phrases to strategy

Sustainability is at the heart of the new ecosystem, not only in a narrow "ecological" sense, but also in the context of the whole business and in relation to all stakeholders. The author of the “New Big Circle” – the Strategy Book on Circular Economy, Alexander Meyer zum Felde (The Boston Consulting Group) recalled a crucial fact: the pressure for sustainability expressed by governments, consumers and, more and more also by investors, has been growing significantly. However, it is not just a risk to companies, but in the first place a huge business opportunity. At Retail Summit 2020, a number of speakers starting from new "very green" players such as Econea or Tierra Verde, up to large corporations such as Unilever, Makro or Tesco logically accented the sustainability theme.

Alena Střížová (dm drogerie markt ČR) gave very inspiring opinions on how to embrace this difficult subject: "Sustainability is presented in many ways as something what consciously limits yourself – something for modern martyrs. In dm, however, we present sustainability as a conscious choice. We offer sustainable alternatives, not wanting to command anything. Sometimes, people just need to be nudged to change their automatisms." Equally interesting are the views of a prominent representative of production of branded goods - this is how Jannis Samaras (Kofola) sees it: "We try not to take a rash position and look for long-term sustainable solutions that will be best for all. It is essential to get sustainability into everyday thinking and decision-making of people within the company."

Retail Summit 2020 also focused on another dimension of sustainability, on its link to ownership and relationships within local communities and local suppliers. That is where Fred Bosch sees the cause of the miraculous resurrection of COOP Nederland consumer cooperative. Perhaps the most interesting statement that put all this into the context of the whole society development was then made by his Czech colleague Milan Hlavsa (the cooperative Konzum): "We represent the community-owned shared economy. We are not owned by any shareholders, but by us - community of 5,500 families who live here in the region, under the Orlicke mountains. And we all make money by our shopping. It is funny that what is now so modern is actually 176 years old".

Basic data on Retail Summit 2020 

About Retail Summit 2020
When: 3. – 5. 2. 2020
Where: Prague Clarion Congress Hotel 

More information: Tomáš Krásný, Blue Events 

Media relations: Jan Patera, Blue Events 

Interest in partnering with Retail Summit 2021: Jiří Beneš, Blue Events

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