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#RetailEXPO19 Innovate or die says MediaMarktSaturn's Martin Wild

By Kathy Oxtoby

Robots to guide us, artificial intelligence, and augmented and virtual reality merging with on- and offline worlds are just some of the new technologies that are set to change the shopping experience.

Delegates at this year’s RetailEXPO were given a glimpse of how retail will look in the future by Martin Wild, chief innovation officer (CINO) of leading European consumer electronics retailer MediaMarktSaturn Retail Group, in his session ‘Innovate or die! – Embracing digital transformation and innovation for Next Generation Retail’.

As the lines between physical and digital blur, interactive technologies are transforming the foundation of how we live and shop. Wild said new technology such as hyper personalisation - the use of data to provide more personalised and targeted products, services, and content - was a new way for consumers to shop in the future “beyond their wildest dreams”.

The retailer has experimented with technology including cashierless stores
The retailer has experimented with technology including cashierless stores

An advocate of enterprise and innovation, Wild started his first business aged 18. He joined the MediaMarktSaturn Retail Group eight years ago, and champions its Retailtech Hub, which can provide young innovative tech startups with dedicated programmes to connect them with established corporations, and mentoring, workshops, office space, capital, and access to the group’s European commerce/retail network.

For young innovative companies addressing the commerce and retail value chain, Retailtech Hub offers resources and opportunities. The hub currently has eight partners and 40 start ups. They include Smartmile, a universal pick up package company, and Wysker, a mobile-only shopping experience.

Fridges that talk and voice assistants advising customers at restaurants are just some of the other retail innovations that shoppers could expect to experience in the future, Wild suggested.

He advised retailers to “think about the possibilities and potential of technology”, and also that virtual robots “guiding and explaining products to consumers as a personal virtual assistant” would be “a major game changer” for retailers.

Wild highlighted the major role robots might play in transforming the future of retail but said this could also have a positive impact on the human workforce.  He said that using robots gives more time for humans, other than “restocking shelves”, and that that this could include more interesting tasks for retail staff.

He also stressed the importance of “exploring and innovating” for the sector, and the importance of giving a “good experience” for consumers. “It does not have to be technology, but if often helps”, Wild said.