Earlier this month, we exhibited at RBTE, the UK’s leading retail solutions event for retail, hospitality and leisure operators.
The reputation of the event is increasing each year and the large number of decision makers and business leaders that made time to visit the show this year was evidence of this.
In the UK we selected RBTE as our annual showcase to the industry, and so have grown our presence to ensure that we have become a major vendor at the show that visitors expect to see.
Together with an interest in our footfall and general behavioural systems, one of the hot topics at this year’s show was our Shopper Profile solution, enabling retailers to understand the profile of their customers. Not only was this a very eye catching element of the Ipsos Retail Performance stand, but this was the topic that generated the most enquiries with the team. One reason for this may be that we now have a wealth of experience in this area, having successfully implemented many shopper profile projects with leading retailers. The need to understand the profile of customers in order to tailor in-store promotions, layout and merchandise positioning is key for retailers to enhance the customer experience and increase brand loyalty, and ultimately sales conversions.
During observational walks round of the exhibition floor, we noticed a marked decrease in the number of start-up companies this year compared with previous years. The start-ups we did see at the exhibition still seemed to have much to do before they fully addressed major concerns around personal data protection and cyber security, an issue which has also been prevalent in the past.
The show is as well-known for the quality of its conference program as it is for the exhibition element, and this year was no different. One of the stand-out keynote speeches was Paul Wilkinson, head of technology research at Tesco Labs, a session which was chaired by Ipsos Retail Performance’s own Dr Tim Denison.
The subject of Paul’s address centred around the use of technology to facilitate the shopping experience for customers. He talked about the coming of the “connected home”, enabled by gadgets like Amazon’s Alexa and Google Home. Tesco used the show to announce its integration with Google Home, which will see shoppers able to add items to their online shopping basket through the voice-controlled device.
Another initiative discussed sees Tesco investing in the retail skills gap with a programme to visit schools and educate children in coding.
This year’s RBTE marked a move away from the speculative mood of previous years, where many exhibitors showcased impressive technologies but often with no real evidence of where their application would be beneficial.
In the main, the exhibitors this year were showing workable, well thought through technology solutions to meet real problems in the industry, all with real end-user case studies and evidence of effectiveness – an encouraging sign that the retail solutions market is constantly maturing and has become important, well established and respected within the industry.