Columbus Consulting hosted an invitation only event on September 22 at the Soho Hotel in London featuring speakers and panel participants from leading retail brands. The exclusive event included networking sessions, panel discussions and a fireside chat all covering the new retail landscape. From the top 5 trends in retail transformation to the complexity of circular retail and the new digital consumer, the community highlighted the major challenges and modern solutions that the industry is embracing. 

Jon Beck, CEO of Columbus Consulting kicked-off the sessions with a focus on the top 5 trends in retail transformation. For over 20 years Columbus has worked with 300+ brands and has partnered with retailers from the emergence of digital commerce to the new post pandemic marketplace. Beck noted that successful retailers are blending strategy with implementation, creating a vision for the future while solidifying the back-to-basics approach to retail with the help of data and technology.  

 Key to transformation includes:

  1. Customer acquisition and retention: feeding top and bottom of the funnel by integrating the customer journey across platforms and channels.
  2. Digital evolution: speed and management of data into transformative initiatives. 
  3. New organisation: embracing smaller, leaner structures and accepting new ways to work with the changing workforce. 
  4. Inventory: right product, right price, right place, right time comes down to end-to-end inventory visibility and agility.
  5. Artificial Intelligence: becoming, faster, smarter, more resilient by applying historic data and predictive data with machine learning. 

Following Beck’s presentation was the first panel focused on the new consumer. The panel included top executives from Jigsaw, Ted Baker and Zig + Star. Among discussion points were how retailers need to consider their entire organisation when creating a customer-centric business model. A brand’s consumer is not just the shopper but the internal organisation as well the corporate and field teams. The panel also focused on how brands need to honor social/media platforms and play by the new consumer rules. Using entertainment platforms to sell is transparent to users who know when they are being sold to; respecting boundaries and being forthright is critical.

In addition to these topics, no retail gathering would be complete without some chatter about the holidays–sales predictions, customer expectations and behaviors, trends and analysis of years’ past.  Renowned industry expert, Andrew Jennings, CEO Global Retail Advisor, summarized how the holiday season will come down to offering exceptional products and services. Given geo-political-economic challenges this year, consumers are looking for escape from the doom and gloom. Christmas will be more challenging but winners are embracing circularity as a means to capture some share of wallet and to evolve into a sustainable world. 

Rounding out the day was a panel of M&S, hunkemoller and In The Style leadership talking about our digital world. The cornerstone of any digital transformation is data. Understanding what data you have, where it resides and how to enhance/correct it is critical to any application. The key is to think of digital initiatives as an evolution, where starting is the biggest step. The other fundamental point was how data exists to support and drive business, people, process and systems. It needs to be used in unison with capabilities and talent to be optimized. 

Charlotte-Kula-Przezwanski, CCI Partner and head of EMEA, commented as co-host and moderator of The Columbus Circle LIVE! Event, “We are thrilled with the success of our gathering. The demand for and attendance of the event shows how retailers are looking for common solutions to shared challenges. Recognizing that what they are facing is similar to what other retailers are facing shows that the industry is at a cross roads in its evolution. We are all part of this new digital transformation both as consumers and as businesses. Learning how to embrace data, technology and automation is critical. The process could seem overwhelming, but with the help of experts, systems investments and organizational change, the results will be exponential. “    

Contact Charlotte directly for comments or conversations related to this and other retail topics in the EMEA area: CKP@COLUMBUSCONSULTING.COM

Want more insights on this and other topics? View our virtual Circle sessions and connect with us to stay informed on current industry activities.    

For over 20 years Columbus Consulting has been partnering with retailers to solve their challenges and drive their businesses forward. Our marketplace of senior level retail practitioners won’t just tell you what to do, they will become an extension of your team, evaluating, sourcing and implementing systems that work. We know we can help, because we have been helping our clients, over 300 global leading brands, successfully and have a 96% re-engagement record. Columbus Consulting has over 150 practicing consultants at your disposal to address your retail, CPG, grocery challenges across business disciplines like: unified commerce, supply chain, IT, organizational structure, merchandise, planning and allocation, inventory management, data & analysis, finance and strategy. Contact us to learn here

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