The future of retail: AI, sustainability, and data
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The future of retail: AI, sustainability, and dataAugust 2023
From AI to sustainability, the factors currently shaping the retail industry are multifold. To get an idea of where we might be headed, we asked three U.K. industry leaders to share their own unique perspectives on the future of retail.
As CMO of the B Corp Certified phone service provider, Giffgaff, Sophie Wheater knows a thing or two about running a sustainable business. Grace Kite, economist and founder of data consultancy, Magic Numbers, firmly believes in the power of measurement and analytics to drive marketing effectiveness. And Sophie Birshan, head of retail at Google U.K., is always armed with the latest product and consumer insights to help retailers stay ahead of the curve.
Watch the video to learn about the key challenges and opportunities for retailers, now and in the future.
Make yourself comfortable.
That's good. Great.
Sophie W: Okay, cool.
The future of retail for me is mobile centric, easier than ever before, and highly personalised.
Sophie B: One of the challenges that we're seeing in retail, which is also really shaping the future, is that as consumers are searching for inspiration online, it means they're shopping around a lot more and trying different brands and retailers.
The concept of loyalty has completely changed. Around half of consumers have tried a new brand or retailer in the past six months, and of course, that completely changes how you need to show up to consumers when they're in that consideration journey.
Grace K: I think the modern shopping experience sometimes lacks surprises. When you used to walk around the shop, you used to find things that you weren't really looking for, and sometimes they were brilliant.
Sophie W: For me, it's social interaction, going with friends, chatting, comparing things. The most helpful retail experience I've had recently was a human one. I had a brilliant sales assistant, and I walked out with two items that I would never have put together in a million years, but I absolutely love.
Sustainability is not so much an opportunity for retailers, but more a necessity. I think without it, you'll very quickly become irrelevant.
Grace K: To stay in the, in the kind of planet that we need to be able to live on, we need to buy less stuff. We need to replace things less often. We need to make our shoes and our clothes and everything last longer.
Sophie B: I think generative AI has huge potential to change the retail industry.
One way that generative AI can help retailers is through content creation. So that might be images or text on the website. Even creating new products, so product design and testing and launching new products. Another way that generative AI can help retailers is in making operations more efficient. For example, aiding people in a call center or in a warehouse to find what they're looking for a lot quicker.
Grace K: One of the really key opportunities for retailers right now is to use data in new and imaginative ways to actually understand what consumers need and really deliver it to them using data that can be collected.
Sophie W: A huge opportunity for retailers right now is the chance for everybody working within that industry to start contributing to making a real difference to the planet and that aligns, I would hope, with the vast majority of people's personal values.
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