Much like every other industry, retail is becoming consumed by technology adoption to the point where the two are no long separate sectors.
“Every company is a technology company” is a phrase heard at almost every conference I’ve attended in the last year, and this is especially so in retail as customer-facing companies are being driven by what consumers are demanding.
Guess what? They’re demanding an easy life facilitated by the tech they’re already using every day.
As explained by Max Benson, co-founder of everywoman, this £333bn industry is a mixture of new job options, opportunities and challenges created by tech, the biggest of which is customers.
“Connected customers don’t think of themselves as either online or offline shoppers” she said, at the everywoman in retail awards ceremony in late 2018. “Retailers who understand those customers are the ones who will thrive in the future.”
It’s no mystery that the move to online has disrupted the way retailers operate, having to seamlessly serve customers in a personalised fashion across many channels.
And this isn’t just about omni-channel or online sales – Karen Gill, co-founder of everywoman, mentioned many of the new innovations that are popping up in stores, from magic mirrors, to smart changing rooms, to facial recognition technology and smart customer toilets.
And because of all of these interesting technological ups and downs, 2018 was apparently one of the hardest cohorts to judge.
This year’s winners of the Barclaycard everywoman in retail awards were:
Above & Beyond Award:
Zuzana Starjakova, team manager at Ocado
Customer/User Experience Excellence Award:
Rebecca James, general manager at Argos
Entrepreneur Award – Sponsored by Amazon:
Claudia Lambeth, founder and CEO of Luna Mae
Executive Leader Award:
Tina Mitchell, divisional managing director at Co-op
Innovator Award – sponsored by IBM iX:
Rachel Beattie, co-founder and director at Careaux
Leader of Change Award:
Sue Knowles, marketing / HR director of Costco Wholesale UK
Male Agent of Change Award – sponsored by Specsavers:
Dave Brittain, senior manager / technical advisor, international retail at Amazon
Rising Star Award – Sponsored by Tesco:
China-Jade Illidge-Mundle, floor manager at Gap
These women all represent the role models we need to promote women in industries that are becoming increasingly technology-driven.
There’s a plethora of technology in the retail industry, but in the technology industry there are a profound lack of women.
Deborah Bee group creative and marketing director from Holly Nichols (or rather Harvey Nichols) talked about how in the hundredth year of women having the vote, the brand wanted to “support female empowerment” by changing the brands name, not just on the front of the stores but on its receipts, doors, bags, store guides, and menus.
She explained: “We felt like Harvey had had it too good for too long and it was time to give holly a chance”
The brand now has a crèche on the shop floor, and a number of women were allowed to smash the windows in its flagship store in the name of female empowerment.
“Next time you go shopping,” Bee summarised. “Ask for more change.”