The Next Generation of Retail

Posted on:

June 9th, 2022

Posted in:

Insights & Thought Leadership

Alongside the “day job” our CEO and founder Andy Tudor is a guest lecturer at UAL: London College of Fashion. Visiting twice in the last two months, he periodically lectures to post-graduate students on technology and data related topics, influential to the fashion industry. 

When asked how he feels about stepping outside of his more usual corporate role, and into that of an educator Andy said, “Spending time to support the next generation of retail professionals is a both a pleasure and an honour.” 

In May he delivered a refresher lecture to Julie O’Sullivan’s student cohort on the topic of emerging tech trends set to influence the fashion sector over the next few years. 

Retail Technology Retrospective: Predictions Realised

Firstly, he took them back to 2019, and to a similar session held with students at that time. Reflecting not only on the monumental changes that have happened in general terms since then (owing to the pandemic) but also at what tech trend predictions were made and to what degree been proven accurate:    

  • The beginnings of the metaverse and the early adoption of virtual reality for retail.
  • The expectations of Generation Z and a growing demand for a hyper personalised brand experience (personalisation tailored to me, not me as part of a broader customer segment).
  • Collaboration and flexibility without any borders. ‘This prediction was scarily accurate,’ Andy said. ‘Who could have known just how quickly digital collaboration would become a must, across all corners of retail operating models in 2019.’
  • The continued proliferation of a vast amount of data flowing through the veins of retail businesses and the huge opportunity to drive commercial value that this presents 
  • Artificial Intelligence & Robotic Process Automation presenting opportunities to streamline operational processes and where appropriate, remove the need for human intervention 

Eat, Sleep, Change, Repeat

Under the sub-title of “Eat, Sleep, Change, Repeat” Andy also advised that for established retail brands the only constant in retail is the need to change. ‘Brands must evolve in line with customer expectations and competitor activity. Becoming complacent will be perilous.’

2022 and looking into the future.

Bringing us now into 2022. Key messages were discussed with the new colleagues due to join the retail sector imminently. Within these a few key themes stand out: 

  • The 2020s is the decade for data driven retailing whereby retailers now grasp how commercially powerful effective use of data across all operations can be. Data is an asset, use it wisely. 
  • Brands need a technology strategy that is delivering short term perpetual value but is adaptable over the long term. This requires a flexible data, integration, and systems architecture at the core. 
  • Ethical trading and sustainability driving business practices are increasing in importance, for both the customer and brand employees. 
  • Flexible operating models which enable brand employees to achieve a work and life balance that fits their needs is of paramount importance to attract and retain the right talent. 
  • Perpetual change is still the only constant in fashion retail. However, the tools and technology partners with the ability to deliver consistent value are available and provide innovative options to change fast. 

Andy delivered his lecture alongside a longstanding colleague and friend, Adam Rose, who now supports both UAL, fashion brands and charities with a broad range of retail operating model topics. 

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