The FT Future of Retail Summit was launched in 2016 to bring strategic and behind-the-scenes insights from the ground-breaking retail CEOs who are re-purposing their physical spaces for the digital and post-digital era.
The themes and topics for the FT Future of Retail Summit arise out of our in-depth conversations with leading retail thinkers and practitioners as they develop their responses to the shifts in consumer behaviour, technology and business models disrupting the retail landscape.
What is a shop? Identity crisis & metamorphosis
With e-tailers offering free delivery, endless choice, competitive pricing, and painless returns policies all from the comfort of the living-room sofa, what’s the point of going to the shops? It’s a question that, in the face of declining margins and footfall across all markets and in all retail segments, traditional retail CEOs are working very hard to address. The answer lies in interrogating the idea of the physical shop itself. What is a shop, and what is it for? Getting the answer to this right, and transforming the physical space accordingly, is key to survival in the bricks and mortar retail world.
There is no doubt that being a physical shop has its advantages. But in order to continue to drive growth alongside and in partnership with its virtual online self, the physical store is going through a metamorphosis. Shops can no longer sit passively on the high street. They have to turn themselves into exciting destinations. Shops need to become places where shoppers can access broad 'know-how' not just basic product expertise. Shops need to get better at taking and fulfilling orders. The physical store needs to get smarter at understanding what customers want.
Accomplishing this metamorphosis brings with it some painful challenges and difficult decisions. Speakers at the annual FT Retail Summit reveal the decisions they are making and the strategic and operational implications these decisions imply.