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16 May 2019

World Retail Hack: Taking the very best of the old and the new

World Retail Hack: Taking the very best of the old and the new

Retailers have recognised the need for change, but the inaugural World Retail Hack with EY, content collaborators, and Hackmasters, Hack facilitators looked to help participants work out how they can transform and whether they should.

The World Retail Congress Hack looked at possible consumer futures “because most companies need to change, but are not changing”, according to Andrew Cosgrove, Global Consumer Lead Analyst, EY, speaking ahead of the World Retail Congress presentation today.


“The irony is that many retailers are actually changing very slowly,” he said. “The challenge is how much does a retailer need to change its business? It is very easy to be complacent about change that happens gradually, it’s hard to know what direction to take. In part, retailers need a multi-change strategy, to build resilience and anticipate change.”


For many of the retailers the core issue is the transition to services and experience at scale, he said: “agility is  easy as a start-up, but to remodel 2,000 stores or retrain 10,000 staff is a real challenge.”


One of the other issues has been to look at how retailers collaborate. Cosgrove added: Companies often talk about finding a great partner, but relatively little about how to be a great partner.  Being the right partner is just as much a critical success factor as choosing well. This also means being the right partner for tomorrow.”


Saher Sidhom, Founder, Hackmasters, added: “Retailers are looking at challenges and possible solutions. Many retailers are doing neither short-term tactical nor long-term work to change – it's the challenge of old and new business models and how you bring these together, especially as the new is not necessarily proven yet.”


He described this as “very much a cultural issue, because there is no framework for it. But the airline industry has collaborated to improve the entire industry. You need to be authentic, there is a huge need for independent and local, and for a story. Do not get trapped in the manipulation game, so how do retailers interact with influencers? A great example is Lego creators.”


Cosgrove concluded: “How quickly do retailers change? It's easy to be bewitched by the new shiny initiatives, but you cannot take your mind off maximising the value that the core business makes, which should then be used for funding further development.”

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