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Tomorrow is a combination of automation and inspiration

Tomorrow is a combination of automation and inspiration

At the Canadian Grocer Thought Leadership Conference in Toronto, the chief Executive of IGD gave her views over the challenges of retail for the near future. In a few lines, let’s take a look at what Mrs Joanne Denney-Finch had to say. As we are coming to the end of the year, and it is planning time for many, or looking out for the trends of the year to come, I thought it’d be interesting to share these vies of IGD that landed in my mailbox.

Mrs Denney-Finch informed that: “Retailing is splitting into two parts: one largely automated and super-efficient and the other based on delivering inspiration. The blueprint is already emerging, not in one single place but spread across the world.”


What should you expect for the future of retail? 

Full automation

Eventually distribution centers will be operated almost entirely by robots and trucks will drive themselves,” she said. “Our smart appliances will use sensors to guarantee great cooking results and people will hand over many decisions to their smart devices. We’ll sign up to long-term deals, because that will be simplest and deliver best value. So as shoppers, our key staple items will turn up just in time, whenever we need them.

Consumers will seek excitement and temptation to find a balance to the automated convenience

“But on the other hand, as people’s lives keep growing more hectic, so spontaneous buying and eating will also be even more popular. Online services will respond to this too, with meal kits and ready to eat food delivered to the door at rapid speed, but physical stores will always have the edge for instant gratification and for products we like to see before we buy.”

Big stores will have to be more exciting

Big stores will become much more exciting, featuring lots of fresh food, new products, special events and more ways to taste, learn and discover. Experts will be on hand to give advice and deliver personal service. Branded manufacturers will be helping their retail customers to differentiate and deliver excitement because those that don’t will be marginalized.

Fierce competition on health

“Retailers will give the healthiest food the best locations supported through their pricing and promotions. And the provenance of food and the ethics behind it will be hugely important. It’ll be an even more transparent world and progressive companies will celebrate this. They’ll be really proud of the standards at every point of the chain for all the food they sell.”


What do players need to make it?

Having the right people

To have the right people with the right mix of skills will be critical, from “highly capable food scientists, quality control specialists and all-round good managers, to those people who can bring new skills to both the in-store environment and supply chains. “

IGD’s research shows most British shoppers view the leading supermarkets as largely interchangeable and even as part of the establishment. So food stores need to become edgier and more inspirational. Both retailers and suppliers will need to invest in creativity and product expertise, because we’ll need more people in store to advise and recommend. The more automated life becomes, the more essential it’ll be for companies to have a friendly face and to bring their brands to life with a unique personality.”

Data and technology skills are also increasingly vital

While you need more of those creative and people skills to attract shoppers into your stores, you’ll also have to stay disciplined with cost and competitive on price,” she said. “The supply chain experts of tomorrow will work in partnerships to deliver improvements at all points in the chain.” 


In conclusion

Mrs Denney-Finch also added:You’re going to need a rich range of skills to be fit for the future… as skills will separate the winners from the losers. But I firmly believe the future will be more rewarding than anything we’ve seen before.”





Extract from the keynote of Joanne Denney-Finch, IGD Chief Executive at the Canadian Grocer Thought Leadership Conference in Toronto


More info on IGD at www.igd.com


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