VL was at STORE 2015, the Retail Council of Canada’s annual event, this past June 2-3 at the Toronto Congress Centre, exhibiting in what can only be considered the nexus of awesome: booth 534. (See proof of awesome below.) Luckily we were next to our friends from QData!
The exciting element of STORE for exhibitors was our ability to not only walk the floor and meet-and-greet some of our fellow awesome exhibitors like Sensindata, Viascanqdata, and Stratacahe, but to also attend some of the fantastic speaking events that dominated the multiple stages over the course of the two day event.
So without further adieu, here is VL’s brief recap of STORE 2015:
Pros: The Toronto Congress Centre could not have been a more appropriate place to host STORE2015. Sleek and modern, the Toronto Congress Centre was converted into a pure glimpse into the possible future of retail through the exhibitor displays. Entering the exhibition floor, you were immediately faced with a virtual presence greeter, and an interactive Adidas shoe display that recognized when you’re standing in front of the glass box showering the shoe in a pretty neat LED light show, embedded right into the glass. And it only got better the further you went into the showroom floor.
There were 3D holograms, state-of-the-art anti-theft security systems, and interactive display options everywhere you looked. There was even a robot, but more on that later. The audience at the show attending the speaking sessions seemed pretty keen on absorbing it all through touching, playing, talking, and interacting.
Cons: STORE kept all participants and attendees well refrigerated. It was Canadian arctic cold in the venue! Didn’t snow though. Luckily, one exhibitor was giving away pashmina scarves as their swag. Talk about serendipity.
Pros: These were easily the highlight of STORE, and clearly what the audience attending the conference were there to see. Industry experts and heavyweights alike took to the multiple stages to talk about their revolutionary ideas for retail at all places along the supply chain. There were some great key messages that came out of the talks I was fortunate enough to sit in on:
- If you’re not innovating, you’re going to be left behind. Retailers who want to be successful in this new and rapidly changing retail world need to be challenging the norm.
- Omni-channel is here to stay: pure e-commerce plays need the support of physical stores (bricks-and-mortar) to communicate with customers. Retailers need to re-evaluate and transform their supply chains to meet the needs and demands of the new way people shop. Less in-store stock, more customer service!
- Ultimately, customers will buy what they want to buy, so the element of allowing customers to customize their purchase (or experience) is going to be increasingly important.
- Experiential retailing is pushing the boundaries between environment and experience, and what can be done in these spaces. Experience is being redefined in retail – and grocery too!
- Technology is an enabler, not an innovation in itself. Retailers need to use technology as a channel, and not a crutch or excuse. Not everything should be digital; success is storytelling your brand.
- The main competitor for (almost) any retail business?: Autopilot. Retailers need to break the habits customers form, especially if you’re looking to break into a space where customer behaviour is habitual (like grocery shopping).
- The delivery of personalization is critical. Metacollections, curated collections, and customization based on past consumer habits are a growing trend. Again, an omni- or multi-channel or what ever channel experience is key.
- Understand the customer. Make use of contextual personalization through interacting and talking systems (i.e., system integration).
Cons: While a lot of sessions I had the chance to sit in on or discussed with peers that had attended them, a lot of speakers were saying very similar things. A lot of what I summarized above is on point, but for the theme for STORE 2015 was “Disruption”. I was really hoping for some more critical or controversial points. Or at least some healthy debate!
A Chance to Rub Shoulders With The Retail Elite
Pro: STORE was great for bringing together companies and thought leaders from across the globe, big and small. Some of the speakers and attendees were from Alibaba, Samsung, eBay, KPMG, Google, and lots more. It was the who’s-who in the retail world, and a good deal of these people were C-level executives. A lot of these fantastic companies had booths on the floor as well (like our friends at Shopify), giving you the added bonus of being able to experiment and/or discuss in-depth the experts’ ideas and offerings.
Con: There wasn’t always an opportunity to speak with some of the most influential attendees at STORE. Some of only what I can assume to be the most important of the important people seemed to only pop into the conference for their scheduled talk, which is to be expected. Too bad they couldn’t stick around a bit longer so we could pick their brains!
It Was Fun!
The best part of any trade show or conference VL attends is the sense of fun the attendees and exhibitors always have. The bonus of STORE was all the great tech sometimes literally wandering around the trade show floor that attendees could experiment with. It was truly a glimpse into the future!
VL had a great time at STORE2015, and we’d like to thank everyone who came out to visit us at booth 534. A big hit of the show was definitely VL’s hockey sticks and our “Keep Calm and Integrate On” t-shirt – we were close to running out of these!
Stay tuned to our blog for more detailed blog articles on some of the talks I attended at STORE!