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5 Key Takeaways from Retail Week Buzz

Some of the globe’s most iconic retailers spoke at Retail Week Buzz – a 2 day conference hosted in London’s Intercontinental Hotel. The event brought together the best and brightest retail minds to discuss personalisation, tech and the future of the industry. We hosted two sessions – a panel on “solutions for the tech obsessed, ‘always on’ consumer”, and another on “what it takes to drive business model innovation”. 

​Here are our key takeaways from the event.
Retailers should get with the sharing economy mindset. They need to take a more cohesive, collaborative approach and look beyond their organisation’s borders. The only way to do this is to create an ecosystem of complementary partnerships; Zalando does this really well by partnering with like-minded brands, retailers and organisations.
Build versus buy is the ongoing dilemma for IT executives looking to replace legacy IT architecture. Regardless of a retailer’s preference there is a compelling argument to make a decision based upon the business’ ability to exit a platform. Retailers should consider how quickly their new platform can be changed or replaced when it inevitably becomes legacy itself (with the timescale from new to legacy increasingly shrinking).
Category convergence is a defining trend of 21st century retail, and the lines between fashion, art, technology, food etc are blurring more and more every day. Retailers would do well to take advantage of the opportunities presented by the intersections of industry sectors. This convergence presents lots of opportunities to open up new revenue streams and tap into the burgeoning social economy. The shift requires flexible systems and architecture to be able to respond to market changes quickly.
4. TESTING, TESTING, 1, 2, 3
Many retailers mentioned that customers often reject a technology or initiative – that's why testing is so important. Never assume what customers will or won't like as often the results are often quite surprising! During testing you find out so much more to help enrich the user experience, and this helps retailers build the right thing. 
Every retailer claims to be shooting for customer centricity, yet some are far more successful than others. The ones that are having success use the following strategies. 

  • Put the customer at the heart of everything – identify a target solution to a customer problem/trend and implement a prototype test and validate in super-fast timescales. Doing this in short repetitive learning cycles is how the innovators are finding successful products faster than others.
  • Change the budgeting model to allow for an innovation cash pot, which allows the Innovation teams to be driven with a truly empowered "its ok to fail" mentality. The best innovators are trying, failing, tweaking, repeating and seeing all failures as a quick solution to proving the initial idea was not optimal. 
  • Change the way the success is measured. Place greater emphasis on customer engagement and satisfaction over traditional KPI metrics.


​​Were you at Retail Week Buzz? Let us know what we missed.

Disclaimer: The statements and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the positions of Thoughtworks.

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