RBTE Advisory Board: “The most successful retailer of the next ten years probably doesn’t exist yet”

Retailers must get used to change being the new normal. That was the key takeaway from a morning discussing the challenges and opportunities facing the retail industry by members of the RBTE Advisory Board.

Gathered at the Groucho Club in Soho over steaming pots of coffee, avocado smash and sumptuous pastries, a number of retailers shared their experiences of keeping up with the constantly changing industry.

The discussion, which was held under the Chatham House Rule, covered a variety of challenges facing the retail industry including payments and PSD2, mergers and acquisitions, international expansion and the fragmentation of advertising and media.

From a technology perspective, the retailers around the table said they were looking at solutions such as artificial intelligence, voice technology and visual search. But the biggest challenge facing the retailers is not knowing which technology to spend their budgets on.

“Everything we touch changes,” said one global retailer. “A technology solution used to be a 5-7 year asset, now it is 12 months. We’ve just switched from one model to the other.”

Meanwhile another high-street fashion retailer agreed the tech cycle had shortened in recent years, noting how technology innovation is moving so fast, it has to pay back in two years or less.

“Change is normal,” said another. “Our colleagues come in every day and see something different. It’s a massive time of opportunity, like the Brexit effect, it is whatever you allow it to be. Ambiguity is the new normal.”

RBTE will take place at Olympia on 1 & 2 May 2019. The advisory board consists of the following retailers:?

Dan Orteu, COO & CTW, Anya Hindmarch

Jamie Korda, retail enterprise architect & innovation manager, Asda

Rachel Humphrey, director of PR & strategic partnerships, Birchbox

Marcel Borlin, CTO, Carpetright

Phil Scully, CIO, Costa

Kash Ghedia, head of technology, Dixons Carphone

Nick Wilson, head of IT business solutions, Dune

Kathryn Malloch, head of CX, Hammerson

David Cabreza, director international distribution, Hilton Hotels

Karen Harris, MD, Intu Digital

Ken Daly, CEO, JML

Richard Jenkins, head of RFID programme, Marks & Spencer

Laura Rosenberger, COO, Naked Wines

Nigel Roy, procurement manager, Primark

Nik Drew, transformation, change & programmes director, SuperDry

Frank Muzika, former UK lead executive, Toys R Us

Sezin Tumer, principal retail innovation manager, Vodafone

Martin Alden, head of commercial development, Wyevale Garden Centres