Retail Technology Show 2023: Retail Express to join leading tech innovators
18th April 2023 | 5 min read
Q&A with Ed Betts, Retail Lead Europe at Retail Express, who considers ahead of the show the role of intelligent merchandising technology and its critical place in the future of retail
What is the Retail Technology Show and why is it important to Retail Express?
The critical role that technology plays in retail is unquestionable. From customer relationship management and point-of-sale systems to self-checkout solutions and contactless payment options, technology underpins modern retail. Within the industry we are now talking more and more about smart retail technology which is any technology that is used to improve efficiency and effectiveness of operations, such as Artificial Intelligence (AI). So, in short, the Retail Technology Show on 26-27 April in London is where all the leading vendors get together and Retail Express is excited to be there.
Can you tell us about some of the key issues affecting the retail industry?
Inflation, soaring energy costs and the resulting cost-of-living crisis have created an exceptionally challenging operational climate and continue to cause a major headache for retail businesses up and down the country. Global supply-chain issues also remain, which has only added to the planning conundrum of late. So, for example, when it comes to promotions, for retail businesses the financial squeeze caused by product and supply chain pressures means that cutting prices is challenging, and yet they are under significant pressure to attract and retain customers to be competitive, particularly as the deep discounters make record gains.
What is the role of technology and how can it help?
Embracing technology as part of the digital transformation of retail processes is now essential for the modern retail business, with access to historical and real-time data being the key to positive and long-lasting change. It is an inevitable truth that as more retailers invest in technology, such as Intelligent Merchandising solutions, those that rely on legacy planning tools and systems without ongoing investment in the latest innovations will be left behind and will, sadly, eventually flounder.
Can you expand on the role of AI in retail?
Accurate analysis of consumer data forms the foundation to getting retail right. This can be achieved by leveraging AI to capture deeper insights, anticipate customer buying trends and proactively deliver across every touchpoint. Gartner termed the use of AI in retail to drive automation and recommendation systems Algorithmic Retailing, and this approach can free up executive and staff time whilst still allowing them to retain control. This is particularly appropriate where internal practices have become a direct hindrance to growth and market responsiveness.
Are intelligent merchandising and algorithmic retailing the same thing?
Intelligent merchandising and algorithmic retailing both point to retail technology solutions that harness the power of AI to help unlock competitive advantage. As we see the growth of disruptors in the retail market, such as online behemoths on one side and the ‘deep discounters’ on the other, it’s essential to invest in systems now that will use intelligent insights to boost revenue. AI-driven solutions also support a move away from the limitations of forensic analysis to the use of real-time data to generate accurate predictions and forecasts, improving operational efficiency and revolutionising tired processes.
What are the benefits of investing in this technology for retail?
The move to such a system helps to centralise all data and planning in the cloud which provides one version of the truth across the supply chain accessible to all stakeholders at the same time. This unification speeds up and simplifies retailer and supplier processes, encouraging transparent collaboration. For example, two-way supplier collaboration tools bring together retailers and vendors to plan, negotiate and agree deals, track funding and manage media and promotion. This enables a move away from one-way data flows and broken communications. Managers are now freed from administrative burden and can focus on how best to position their business.
Can’t all this be done equally effectively using existing office applications?
The shift from paperwork and emails to a digital solution facilitates real-time supplier proposals and deals. Further benefits include the sharing of planning and AI forecasts, and joint business plans with funding visibility, as well as the ability to track and trace all funds and allowances using digital contracts and solutions that drive compliance. A full digital audit trail means that, for the first time, step-by-step negotiations can be accurately documented and verified, while a dedicated supplier collaboration portal allows trading partners to tighten agreements and ensure sales growth with clear visibility of promotional ROI. This makes for a much healthier retailer / supplier partnership driven by shared data rather than guesswork.
How does this help to improve, for example, promotional planning?
By using AI to analyse current and historic data with the trading and merchandising conditions that underpinned those sales, retail businesses can make accurate predictions about how pricing and promotional plans will impact future revenue and profits at both summary and granular levels. Pricing and promotions can now be based on business intelligence and insights derived from data hosted in the cloud. Historic sales data combined with point of sale (POS) data allow retailers to see first-hand what customers are purchasing and when. Options such as ‘basket analysis’ even allow a granular-level view of customer purchases, detailing sales transactions by item, by basket, by store, by day, for all stores and e-commerce, 365 days a year.
Why should visitors visit the Retail Express stand?
As the retail industry continues to undergo a period of transformation, businesses need to intelligently refocus, optimise and adopt a more detailed and data-driven approach to profitability. Cutting-edge purpose-built merchandising software, driven by AI and utilising cloud capabilities, will enable the smart modern retailer to benefit hugely from improved forecasting and planning, greater sales potential thanks to data analysis, and control over all aspects of supply chain management. The Retail Express team will gladly demo the route to retail success and significant future growth on stand 5G20.
To learn more visit Retail Express at this year’s Retail Technology Show: https://www.retailtechnologyshow.com/exhibitors/retail-express