The Buzz from Retail Week Live

The word that’s been at the centre of retail conferences in recent years was noticeably absent from this year’s Retail Week Live event. Omnichannel – beloved by consultants and technology vendors but often an uncomfortable fit for retailers describing their modernising strategies – barely got a mention.

Instead, what we heard at the two-day gathering of UK retail leaders which finished in London today, were a handful of more useful descriptors that offer an insight into the current UK retail mindset. Here’s a rundown.

The Connected Consumer – a move on from ‘the empowered consumer’ and “the next non-linear shift” to have a massive impact on retail. So said Sebastian James, group CEO of electrical and telecoms retailer Dixons Carphone. It’s a technology-driven shift he believes will bump off as many retailers as the arrival of ecommerce did, especially as the number of connected devices in our homes rises from the current average of 12 to 70 within three years.

Thumb-Stopping Moments – coined by Facebook’s UK and Ireland managing director Steve Hatch to highlight the pieces of mobile content or messaging that stops a consumer in their tracks and demands their attention. It’s the Holy Grail in a digital world where the competition for a consumer’s attention is intensifying.

Personalisation at Scale – also called “industrial-sized personalisation” by online retailer Shop Direct’s group CEO Alex Baldock and used to convey the ramping up of personalised options to customers. In the case of Shop Direct that means adding to the 4,000 variants of sort order it already offers (the order in which product categories appear on personalised homepages when shoppers visit the site) and automating at scale.

Nomophobia – a word that appeared in several presentations on mobile. According to McKinsey principal Kate Smaje, two-thirds of us now suffer from nomophobia – the fear of not having our mobile phones at hand or it not being charged. It’s not quite the same as FOMO (fear of missing out) because those who are connected feel like they CAN be present, just digitally instead.

The Sexy Stuff –used to describe the technology that does nothing but wow. While there’s nothing wrong with a bit of wow at retail the consensus from the floor was to exercise caution and not get knocked off balance by too much ‘whizz bang’ tech. Instead, the unsexy stuff is where the real gains are to be made.

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