What does the future look like for retail and what challenges do we face in order to keep delighting customers – onsite and online? As part of the online event series for the international consumer goods fairs Ambiente, Christmasworld and Creativeworld, Messe Frankfurt invited four renowned experts to answer these and other questions at the Future Retail online event. The great interest in this online event confirms that numerous retailers are looking for new impulses: over 300 people from 40 countries registered and were able to take away valuable ideas, look into the future, and learn about exciting study results.
Accompanied by the moderation of Marilyn Repp from the German Retail Association (Handelsverband Deutschland e.V. – HDE), the two hours of the Future Retail online event were packed with new business impulses at first hand. The participants now have a real knowledge advantage when it comes to current topics such as metaverse or the application of omnichannel. Surveys and studies also provided answers to what customers really expect today. The fact that this also involves recycling, sustainability and transparency in product information was brought to the fore with the help of striking examples.
Germany’s top expert and keynote speaker of the afternoon, Stefan Genth, Chief Executive of the German Retail Association (Handelsverband Deutschland e.V. – HDE), used the latest data and surveys to show the current situation and development of the retail sector in Germany. Here, the factors of price increases, inflation, the Ukraine war, the disruption of supply chains, and the energy crisis have the greatest influence on consumer behaviour. “This brings together several factors that are causing consumer sentiment to drop drastically and with it the mood for consumption – especially in specialist shops and for non-food items,” says Genth. Genth’s recommendation is to counteract this by specifically strengthening the city centres and consistently expanding online trade and digitalisation. “We have to put the customers in the centre and see their needs and wishes as the top priority. A big wish is the linking of analogue retail shops and online platforms – that is the future of retail,” Genth concluded.
His thesis was supported by the presentation Omnichannel is “the new normal”: Insights from the Google Omnichannel Excellence Study 2022 by Judith Büchl, Google Germany GmbH. She presented the current Google study Omnichannel Excellence 2022, which provides essential insights into how important it is to link onsite and online. Study partners are the HDE and Pattern. For the first time, the study sheds light on the so-called “expectation gap”, whereby both retailers and customers were surveyed. Among the revealing results are that the degree of trust in the retailer is particularly important, but that the aspect of sustainability is also increasingly in demand. “We asked both groups how flexible, consistent, informative, convenient and personalised shopping should be from the customer’s perspective and what the reality of this looks like in retail. Important, but quite simple mechanisms are, for example, Click&Collect, a good information service and the realisation that often the shopping journey starts digitally. This is where brick-and-mortar retail must offer added value so that the journey ideally ends in the shop,” says Büchl.
The attractiveness of stationary trade was also the focus of Stefan Nilsson’s lecture “Better and more sustainable shopping – sustainability megatrend and its impact on retail”. In his lecture, the trend expert and journalist not only focused on the experience factor in the retail shop, he was also concerned with how to strengthen sustainability even more. Because his starting point is that the consumption behaviour of consumers will decrease – and this is underpinned by the latest studies, for example by McKinsey. “Don’t resign, but act! What can we change here concretely, where do we pick up our customers now?”, asks Nilsson. His clear answer: in the area of sustainability. “Resale, Restore, Remake, Repair or Rent, that’s what’s needed today. Be creative and complement your assortment by offering items or services for repair,” is Nilsson’s call for a forward-looking concept in stationary retail.
Stefan Wenzel, Board Advisor, goes one step further in his presentation “Hype or Future? Metaverse & Web3 for Retail & Brands” and opens up completely new digital worlds of retail to the audience. In the metaverse, augmented reality technologies merge real and virtual reality. This opens up countless possibilities for the digital space and thus also for new business potential in retail. “Web3 is the future, the parallelism of reading, writing and owning in digital worlds. In the metaverse, there are already digital product twins that can be purchased. Here, real artists earn money with avatars that give concerts. Hundreds of billions of US dollars are generated in the gaming sector. This is highly interesting for the trade in the future and should already be kept in mind now,” says Wenzel.
The presentations were broadcast and recorded in German and English. They are available at: conzoom-solutions.messefrankfurt.com/future-retail free of charge at any time.
The next online events will take place on 31 August 2022 on Sustainability meets Design and on 12 October 2022 on the latest developments in the HoReCa sector. Further information will follow shortly.
The topics of the online events are of equal interest to retailers at Ambiente, Christmasworld and Creativeworld and will be given their own platform at the trade fairs from 3 to 7 February 2023: the Conzoom Solutions Academy. Here, experts will speak daily on a separate stage about the latest trends and developments in the retail sector and provide further impetus for onsite and online business.
From February 2023, the leading international consumer goods fairs Ambiente, Christmasworld and Creativeworld will be held simultaneously at the Frankfurt exhibition centre.