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The Experts from IoTC NOW Weigh In

INDUSTRY FOCUS PANEL: Retail Transformation in 2020 and Beyond

*In light of the recent postponements of industry events which we believe to be critical in driving development and adoption of IoT, the Internet of Things Consortium (IoTC) launched a new virtual series IoTC NOW. Uniting industry leaders who discuss the current pandemic and its effect on specific IoT sectors including connected health and wellness, retail, autos, homes and cities—the IoTC’s five core verticals—we are pleased to provide a platform allowing these conversations to still take place while enabling partnerships to flourish. 

There is no doubt that the retail sector has been hit hard with COVID-19. This sector, however,  was already experiencing huge transformation even before the global pandemic, with increased competition from new business models and changing consumer demands, making digital transformation essential, particularly for those “brick and mortar” retailers.

Recalling Plato’s premise that necessity is the mother of invention, the global pandemic has accelerated the much-needed transformation of “brick and mortar” retail and we are now seeing industry leaders forging ahead with innovative and touch-free technology, from delivery drones to robotics, to realize the potential of current and future innovation, filling critical gaps while ensuring the health and wellbeing of everyone. With social distancing the new normal, at least into the foreseeable future, retailers must adopt alternative technologies and processes in order survive the current situation and be ready for possible future outbreaks and disruption.

Retail Transformation in 2020 and Beyond was held May 21, 2020 via Zoom, bringing together leading retail executives rising to the current challenges to share their insights, expectations and realities of what the future retail landscape looks like. Hosted by IoTC Founder and CEO Greg Kahn, the panel was moderated by George Anderson, Editor-in-Chief at RetailWire.

Speakers included:

  • David Shim, CEO, Foursquare
  • Phillip Raub, Former President and Founder, b8ta 
  • Stephane Wyper, Senior Vice President, Retail Innovation, Mastercard
  • Melanie Nuce, Senior Vice President, Corporate Development, GS1 US

Key Takeaways:

  • We’re now referring to this current time period as the “Now Normal,” and there is much more excitement and optimism associated with this term versus the “New Normal.” In this Now Normal, retail has a tremendous opportunity as an industry to reset itself and rethink every aspect of business during what one panelist referred to as “The Great Retail Reset.”
  • Panelists agreed retail had been slow to adopt critical technologies. This has been laid bare by COVID-19, demonstrating in real time the ability or inability of brands to adapt and pivot. As a result, there’s bound to be a move toward contactless payment, which is already widespread in Asia, Europe and Australia, as well as frictionless experiences that will minimize human interaction. This will in large part require a relentless focus on execution, particularly over the next three to five years.
  • Investment in new technology will be essential. In fact, retailers will be forced to adopt to omnichannel shopping. It’s no longer enough to have a physical presence. But financing new investments will be dependent on whether a retailer can prove the investment is scalable and whether it will generate revenue and benefit to the consumer.
  • The need for location-based analytics will be essential in informing everything, including  staffing. We witnessed a major layoff across the board, with some employees furloughed and some let go. For big brands with multiple locations opening at different rates and dates, it will be important to have that data in place when staffing up again. Also paying attention to the states that opened first, watching and learning will be helpful for those still in limbo.
  • There will likely be more focus on digital fidelity—increasing consumer faith in the digital shopping experience. While the last mile has been important in the past, the first mile will take priority along with a transparent chain of custody and supply chain integrity.
  • Finally, and most important, retail must rethink the consumer, especially now with habits forming regarding online shopping, curbside pick-up and social distancing. On the other hand, there is a pent-up demand, and those states that are opening are seeing that people really want to go out in public evidenced by long lines at stores and restaurants in particular, even if it’s at a distance. And that is very encouraging, especially for mom and pop shops, where we are likely to see an uptick.

To download full session, visit: IoTC NOW

We invite you to get involved with the IoT Consortium. The next IoTC NOW virtual panel focuses on the Smart Mobility and takes place Thursday, June 4, 2020, 2 p.m.- 3 p.m. (EST). In the meantime, you can continue the conversation on our Slack Channel or become a member.