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An Intimate Dinner with Multichannel Colleagues, a Yellow Lambo and was that Beyonce?

I received a kind invite from Al Keck of Infinity Nation for a multichannel workshop dinner at the lovely Whatley Manor venue in Wiltshire the other week…..you know, the Moonraker county that hosts Salisbury, south of the Plains, recently the most famous city in the world and now the cleanest most secure city in the UK. The dinner focused on retail and the multichannel sector, a subject that I find most fascinating and dynamic. Due to the open broadcast of this story I shall obscure names for Chatham House rules applied but rest assured there were some big guns present, with plenty of experience behind them and the main focus of the evening was – where’s it all going, stores and online..and the customer?
 
Whilst taking in the ambiance and scenery for inspiration, we noticed a striking lady with a famously familiar face that you just couldn’t put a name to. Later that evening we did press a waitress for details, but her training held out and no fellow diner details were shared. Well done to Whatley Manor for the high standards!

The evening continued and the debating became more intense. Views were shared of city centres becoming full of nursing homes, supported solely by coffee and charity shops, full of silver surfers searching for bargains or that magic valuable find. Others suggested that existing stores will become brand experience centres where you arrive, touch, feel and smell the quality, supported with food and drink venues to help the destination become family friendly and used as meeting points. Once the product browsing was done, an order for direct shipment to home or click and collect that following weekend could be made, other fellow diners shared that local councils are implementing initiatives to re-introduce our previous status as a nation of independent shopkeepers offering niche, innovative, refreshingly new products not normally stocked by the main high street brands as a way to draw people in.

The topic moved onto the likely technology that will support retailing of the future, one that supports the needs of the business in terms sales and profit, leveraging available inventory for any channel, optimising distribution for domestic and international sales, despatching from stores, supplier drop shipping, automating manual processes, to name but a few and what of the customer experience. Technology that leaves queuing in-store in the past, in-store beacons sending personalised offers in real time, social selling on the fly, with narrative of the products and brand, driving that emotional connection to the purchase.

The subject of how both retailers and customers keep up with the pace of change can be debated for hours but at some point we had to draw the evening to a close. An event occurred that was unexpected. Through the window outside, alongside the diners, a pair of gates swung open, a yellow Lamborghini pulled in. The well-dressed lady casually rose from her table and walked to the door and onward to the car. Doors opened skyward and in she slid, with a quick burst of power she was gone. We were convinced this was a pop star or perhaps a famous blogger, it was a natural point upon which to close the evening. 

Whilst driving home, I pondered, there are facts that can be drawn from the data. Customers, whether millennials, Y generation or silver surfers have their own shopping habits. Key is a retailer’s adaptability. Darwin had a thing or two to say about this, if product brands and retailers of the future are going to survive, they will use technology and solutions that can adapt, do what they need within the core but allow a retailer to react and step outside when the need occurs. They will need centralised data feeding AI and analytic service providers that determine their customer, their journey, their engagement with the brand and be able to react AND proactively engage those channels used by the customer at the right place, at the right time and with the right context.
 
If this topic resonates and an informal chat would be of value, let me know. We are engaged with MNP Solution users right now, suggesting best practice areas of focus for their retail technology roadmap, we too are implementing our multichannel solutions that provide the real -time operational data hub, empowering some of that good stuff above. Call or email anytime.

If I do find out who was in the yellow Lambo driver was, I’ll let you know…but only if you call.

Pierre D’Arbost – Head of Multichannel 01722 341342 or pierre@mnpthesolution.com

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