Back to the future: Retailing in the age of the consumer

At the recent BT for Retail Summit, over 150 retailers got together with a host of our product specialists and partners to discuss, debate and, occasionally, disagree about where retail was heading and how best to get there.

The main event on day one was divided into a three: a morning session with keynote presentations, an afternoon dedicated to smaller, retailer-led breakout sessions and the infamous conference dinner and late night entertainment.

The theme was Retail Unplugged and different speakers presented their take on what this meant – all grappling with the challenge of ‘unleashing the true power of omni-channel retail’.

Watch highlights from the BT for Retail Summit 2014



There was general agreement that consumers were becoming more demanding, that the buying journey was more complex and the real retail success stories in recent years have been all about making it easier.

A new Retail Week Report (The Consumer 2014) was launched at the event which backed this up. BT futurologist Nicola Millard suggested that the research showed that, in the age of the consumer, customers jump channels to achieve goals but that most wanted to go back to the fundamentals of the retail experience – and making things easy for them is at the heart of this.

After the theory, in the afternoon retailers outlined how they were making this happen in practice. So Pets at Home outlined its mobile solution, Tesco revealed how it is building retail for digital generations, international expansion was on the  minds of Monsoon Accessorize and Primark, while Claire’s highlighted the benefits of responsive design in this second (third and fourth) screen age.

During a panel discussion on the future of e-commerce, representatives from Mint Velvet, Lyle & Scott and Snow+Rock all generally agreed on the importance of personalisation and customer experience –although often disagreed on the details of how to achieve this.

But this is what’s so great about retail. There is no easy answer. No one way to do things. It’s all about knowing your customers and giving them what they want. And being able to change as often and as quickly as they do…

Useful links

Download your copy of Retail Week’s The Consumer 2014 research report>

Watch the Pets at Home in-store mobility case study video>

Watch the Network animation>

See BT Sport’s Jake Humphrey compare sport and retail>

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