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Technology must serve commerce

Technology must serve commerce

On November 23rd, I had the pleasure to participate to the Connect Lille event organized by Diamart Connect. I was not going to miss an event in the region that many have described as the Retail Valley (and rightly so if you ask me).


A classic and effective recipe

The format of the event was simple: a conference programme with retailers and experts, an exhibition area with many start-ups and scale-ups, and of course networking. 


An ecosystem of start-ups 

Obviously, I didn't miss out on discovering the different start-ups present at the event. There was a bit of everything with publishing software, payment solutions, robotics, last mile delivery services... Moreover, the day ended with the Start-Up Awards rewarding the most promising solutions. 

Of course, some of these start-ups and innovations will find their way into the podcast or the pages of 20/CENT Retail in the coming weeks. 


Content, content and more content

But what I remember most about this day are the interventions during the different round tables and of course the keynote of the day, Michel-Edouard Leclerc

Rather than give you a detailed summary of each session, let me present you with three key lessons to remember: 

  • The physical shop is certainly not dead but is a place of experience and fusion with its customer. To give you some examples, just think of the sound showers or pianos installed in Monoprix outlets, or the TikTok booth at Don't call me Jennyfer (Just do an internet search or go visit those stores to see what I mean). 
  • Knowing your NPS is important. But above all, acting to improve this score is essential.
  • Technology must be at the service of commerce. This is probably the most important key lesson to remember (and not only because Michel-Edouard Leclerc has insisted on this point many times). Technology brings speed, efficiency, precision, etc. However, a customer is above all a person with needs and desires. And first of all, you have to listen to clients in order to be able to meet their demands and expectations. Clearly, a format or technology only takes shape to meet the customer's needs and nothing else. What is important is the content of the business, not its format.


My 20/CENT on my first Connect Lille

Overall, the event was a great success. Of course, one can always argue about the format and style. In my opinion, the transitions between sessions lacked a bit of showmanship, and a Q&A interaction with the speakers would have made it even more lively. But the content of the agenda was interesting, the speakers presented and answered truthfully during the panels, and the organisation was top notch. 

But I will end with the following reflection. I felt that the speakers and the parties involved are all very much rooted in the northern region. This is somewhat normal in a way. But I would go so far as to say that Connect Lille could have a more international aura. Lille is only a stone's throw from the Belgian border and has an international train station. In short, the logistical ingredients are there to attract a wider audience. In addition, the event can highlight the content of its agenda, and the fact that it is attractive to start-ups. Even if attempts have been made (or exist), whether in Belgium, Luxembourg or even the Netherlands, there is no event with a retail theme of this quality and with these ingredients. In short, there is a chance for Connect Lille because the region in the broadest sense could benefit from an international retail event. 

In short, it is was an event worth to visit. The next Connect Lille is even already planned for next year on 24 and 25 November 2022. It will be an event spaced over two days and of course I will keep you posted. 




PS: oh yes, before I forget, as I rarely miss any details. I did notice one thing that hurt my eyes. Adidas shoes or Stan Smiths trainers with a business suit seemed to be in fashion this year. Call me old fashioned but I still consider this a fashion faux pas. But then again, that's probably what's fashionable in the world of digital retail. 








Connect LilleDiamart ConnectMichel-edouard LeclercLilleEventStartup