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Three Key Themes from World Retail Congress 2014

With a central theme of disruption, the World Retail Congress in Paris this week has explored the challenges and opportunities in a new retail landscape where, to quote National Retail Federation chairman Steve Sadove, “the old rules no longer apply”.

Retailers have recognised the need to embrace these disruptions and are shaping their organisations to meet these head on. Leadership has emerged as a key theme – with senior executives stressing the importance of a leadership structure that is open enough to accept new ideas and flexible enough to go against the grain.

Much of the change to retail is being driven through by millennials – another focus of WRC2014. Having a best-practice omnichannel strategy is therefore a must if retailers are to leverage the searing potential of mobile. But keeping cyber security tightly controlled at the same time is crucial if retailers are to ensure trust and many are looking several years down the line to see where safety and security technology developments are going next.

The booming consumption markets of China and India are expected to add another 1 billion middle class consumers to the world within 30 years, representing a huge retail opportunity. At this year’s WRC the focus is very much on understanding the travelling consumer from these markets, especially the more than 100 million Chinese who travel.

Working hard to make stores appealing for them is nothing new for Western luxury retailers, but judging by speakers comments, those efforts can be expected to be strengthened even further to drive topline growth.

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