A View To The Future

4 min read

Innovations that shape the retail in 2020

Jan 8, 2020 2:15:03 PM

NRF2020 Retail Big Show in New York will showcase the futuristic technologies and innovations that will shape the retail in the coming years.

Before we can be amazed with concept cars of the retail world, it’s time to set the expectations from the grass roots and everyday retailer needs point-of-view.

Erik Dingvall from OPCO ONE, the organizer of Nordic Retail Bootcamp in New York will talk about his experiences.



What’s retail of today – what are the major challenges and drivers for change from retailer perspective? 

The difficulty that we see today is that internet, online stores, omni-channel, review sites and whatnot has drastically changed consumers’ shopping habits.

Consumers themselves have become savvier and their expectation levels are set by all the other players in the market globally.

So these external factors are shaping customers’ buying behaviour, their needs and wants.

What’s more, their needs and wants are not limited only to products and services but also to the overall customer experience.

That is where retail is today, trying to regain the customer intimacy. Retailers are striving to know their customers in as many ways as possible. That has put a lot of emphasis in starting to leverage data in gaining this knowledge.

What are the changes in the technology landscape that have an effect on the retail business? 

I might be a bit biased but I have to say the possibility to run more advanced analytical models and work these models in a much larger data set.

I would claim that this has been made possible due to the new computer power we’ve gotten access to through the cloud environments where we see the elastic servers that more or less provide “endless” compute power.

This is one thing. The other is the possibility to get access to loads of data and the data comes in all shapes: video feeds, voice, unstructured, structured data and so on.

So in short, power, data, analytical possibilities, cloud and elasticity. 

Are there any examples you can list of technologies that change or shift retail business?

Advanced analytics for sure but we also see the cloud and availability as a huge part.

Technology is now much easier to gain access to.

Take Houston Analytics’ Assortment in Space solution as an example. Before these technological and analytical advancements that I just mentioned it would not have been possible to create a solution that is run by AI to automatically optimize assortment to local demand and to actual store space. That in and of itself is huge and transforms the way retailers can plan, optimize and manage the stores.

When AI is doing the heavy-lifting it frees category managers’ time to plan and test different strategic scenarios, or do innovative category management that’s really time consuming – if not impossible – without advanced analytics.

Can you name any examples of retailers that leveraged some new technology that transformed their operations?

We can look at the born in cloud marketplaces such as Amazon and what they have done for the rest of retail.  For me, they have opened up the minds of retailers on what is possible and how data together with analytics can give the wanted effect of being closer to the customer.

Assortment in Space is doing the same to traditional retailers. When you optimize your assortment to your local customers what you are effectively doing is the same as what Amazon is doing in an online world – you’re understanding your customers’ needs, right?

True, in the offline world you can’t do personalization to the same extend as in the online world, yet the analogy is real.

Enriching your data set with external data you can pre-empt shifts in trends and customer behaviour in your assortment. This works the same both online and offline.

We started off from NRF 2020. OPCO is organizing a Nordic Retail Bootcamp in conjunction with NRF. What’s that and – moreover – why?

OPCO Nordic Retail Bootcamp is organized in New York since in many ways New York becomes a neutral ground for retailers under the NRF Big Show, biggest retail event in the world.

During the 2019 OPCO has worked closely with large retailers such as IKEA and H&M in Sweden. In our many discussions there’s been questions around digitalization and presence in digital versus physical. Based on those discussions we decided to setup an agenda in New York where we can gather many retailers in the same room and cover three main topics:

    1. The importance of a physical presence in a digital world
    2. Meeting the customer via a marketplace
    3. Insight driven business development

At the moment we have interesting keynote speakers from Amazon, Apple, SAS, Nordic Council of Shopping Centers and Houston Analytics to cover these topics.

What are the main things why a retailer should attend?

Like I mentioned you get a chance to exclusive sessions with Amazon: Store tours, meet with large brands in retail and hear first-hand about their experiences, get to ask questions and also create a new ecosystem where we have already seen positive effects for businesses over the year that already embarked on the ecosystem journey. 

I also would say that NRF is so huge that without any help and guidance the show will be too overwhelming that it will be difficult to cope with. The session is for the attendees so that they can gain maximum of it. 

Will we get a follow-up from NRF2020 from you after the fact? Maybe get a glimpse of the visionary stuff that was showcased?


Thanks, Erik for the inspirational chat!