Today marks the kick-off of Shoptalk Europe, in Copenhagen, Denmark, where brands, retailers, and retail service providers from across the globe come together to have a dialogue about existing business challenges and the tools and tactics to navigate what (goes without saying) continues to be a difficult operating environment.
We listened in on the day's sessions and took down a few notes, and here's our take on the key conversations of the day.
Closing Stores Is The Easy Way Out
If you've been paying attention, you may have noticed that Hudson's Bay Company (owner of Saks, Lord and Taylor, Gilt, and Galeria Kaufhof) has never been shy about its belief in the importance of physical retail. Where many of its department store peers have been trying to offload their real estate holdings, HBC has been in shopping mode. And today's talk by CEO Jerry Storch reiterated their focus on 'great stores needing great internet.' He argued that the existing retail narrative (online vs in-store) is allowing retailers to take the easy way out when they close down underperforming stores. Instead he challenged the audience to play to win and do better at their physical retail - resilient brands will build 'great all-channel retail.'
Transformation Is Akin To An Extreme Sport
'You may be the fastest turtle, but at some point you'll have to compete with the rabbits.' Today's keynote from Spencer Fung, Group CEO of Li and Fung, one of the world's largest supply chain companies, centered on how to transform an industry that is still operating in 'analog' mode. While there is a lot of buzz around AI and other emerging retail technologies, the supply chain, in the CEO's own words, has been one of the last to digitize and innovate, and continues to face downward price pressures. His candor at the inherent difficulties of business transformation was refreshing, and he likened their efforts to an extreme sport which pushes you the limits - it's punishing and scary - because you never know if what you discover on that journey could completely change the game.' A much-needed reminder that transformation is as much about the journey as the desired end result.
The Way Forward Is Collaboration
As a brand or retailer, would you be willing to share your data with other retailers? It's an idea that makes many brands squirm, but it's one that Westfield CEO, Steven Lowy, has long been advocating and building their business around. As one of the world's largest mall property operators, with an Innovation unit that focuses on digitizing their physical footprint, they have taken a proactive stance in uniting their partner brands and properties to better meet the needs of the consumers in the local markets they serve. And in order to do this with maximum efficacy - he emphasized that brands need to overcome their fear of competition and rather see this exchange of data as an opportunity to be better and more future-proof together.
Stay tuned as we bring you more updates from the event here.