Welcome to the new norm in retail where consumers have heightened expectations, organizations are transforming not only their systems but their organizational structures and talent requirements, and the economy is driving higher costs and higher standards. It is no wonder the industry has so much to discuss.

ShopTalk 2023 took place from March 26-29 at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas where 10,000+ retail industry professionals and over 650 of the most innovative technology companies convened to share insights, learnings and future thoughts on shoppers, commerce and the global marketplace.  And Columbus Consulting was there.

The community focused on the increasing demands of the consumer and the drive to deliver even greater convenience from brand experience to inventory availability, from payment options to instant fulfillment. Retailers are continuing to rely on data and lots of it to identify historical trends and apply machine learning predictions to fulfill shopper demands all while respecting the emerging circular nature of product development, distribution and return/recycle. Unified commerce has grown passed omni-channel and into 3-dimensional retail adding in livestreaming and metaverse environments. And social platforms like Pinterest are accelerating the path to purchase from consumer use to direct conversion.  This new multi-touch environment is forcing brands to readdress not just what they sell, but how and where and to whom they sell it. 

So how can retailers keep up? That’s where another discussion track surfaced and focused exclusively on the new complexion of the retail organization. As consumer demands shift and evolve, so too must the skill sets and job roles of the retail teams. Transforming from manual interfaces and channel specific operations to cross functional, agile teams and unified commerce models. The essence of diversity, equity and inclusion goes well beyond race, gender and age. Staffing and labor challenges, coupled with DEI initiatives require organizations to consider cultures, languages, aptitude, geography, and tech proficiency. Retailers are also focused on DC automation, saving employee labor for more impactful efforts over mundane tasks. This type of robotic intervention is not only proving to save costs, but also to increase morale, safety and employee contributions. 

It all comes down to time, money and resources. In order for retailers to succeed in the new norm, they need to invest in new systems, stronger talent and change management to propel their organizations forward. But these requirements are adding even more pressures to squeezed margins and profits being consumed by inflation, supply chain challenges and energy costs/distribution. Not to mention minimum wage increases and flex time expectations. Surviving in this retail world is leaving many to re-evaluate their store base, systems integration needs, automation requirements and operational efficiencies across the product lifecycle. Thriving in this challenging economy may even seem like an unattainable goal, but much like the pandemic that created an upheaval to prior practices, the new norm in retail will present a future that is better for people, profits and the planet. At least that is the plan. And, as in this case, what was discussed in Vegas will definitely not stay in Vegas.         

Want to learn more or find out how your brand can apply the key initiatives discussed at ShopTalk 2023? Contact our experts at Columbus Consulting. We are retail consultants who have actively practiced our trade at executive levels. Our team can help you from strategy through implementation. Whether you need a systems audit or selection or retail consulting services including: digital transformation, unified commerce, data & analytics, point of sale/store systems, finance, supply chain, merchandising & planning, warehouse operations, inventory management or any other area in your retail, CPG, or grocery organization, we have been there and done that.

Find out more at https://www.columbusconsulting.com/.

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