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What's the big thing in retail?

The US. It has the Big Apple, big meals, big drinks and, well, big everything when you compare it to Europe across the pond.

And you know what else is big? The National Retail Federation's 2017 Big Show that I recently attended in New York. It’s one of the retail sector's annual flagship events with more than 35,000 attendees, 510 exhibitors and over 300 speakers. Some of the exciting keynote speakers were Walmart, Macy’s, founder of the Virgin Group, Sir Richard Branson, and Captain Scott Kelly, a now retired American astronaut and veteran of four space flights. The captain drew on his personal stories from 229 miles above the earth to talk about how human beings can push their own limits – truly inspiring!

I joined the three-day-event as part of a European omni-channel strategy experts’ network to see what’s new in the retail industry, what the leading trends are and what our clients are doing. One thing I learned is that we’re witnessing one of the most dramatic shifts in consumer behaviour I can remember. And this is driven by the tech-savvy, under-30s generation. And the scary part? Most retailers aren’t ready and seem to be stuck in their old ways.

It became clear to me that retailers must move from transaction thinking to customer thinking, and learn how to maximise customer lifetime value by creating superior and seamless customer experiences across multiple channels. Those who don't embrace this will be left to die or simply to serve the over-50s market.

And the next thing that dawned on me? Retailers must reinvent the store as we know it. The store of the future is more about building brand experiences than selling products, and it doesn’t matter if the customers buy, as long as they come to the store and experience the brand community.

These trends are not only relevant for retailers, but will undoubtedly become the new normal in the business to business environment – something most B2B organisations are totally unprepared for.

So, all-in-all, an inspiring and thought-provoking three days for me. Is your organisation ready for these changes?

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