RetailEXPO 2019: Rise of the Machines?

To find out more about how technology is changing the playing field, Mevo spent two incredible days in London at RetailEXPO 2019. There, we gained crucial insight as to how we can adapt, overcome, and emerge victorious in this Darwinian terrain.

Whether consumers realize it or not, the market is evolving at an exponential rate. Dawning with the rise of the internet, the entire landscape of retail markets has transformed into something completely alien compared to just a mere decade ago.

“There’s definitely a lot of innovation and digital products out there made with the intention to enhance the in-store experience,” says Kent R. Bråthen, CEO & Co-founder of Mevo.

“Screens in fitting rooms, digital tables, sensors etc. for product information – and for consumer info, of course. All omnichannel connections helping retailers adapt to the new store/web balance.”

As we took in all of the latest offerings in retail technology and innovation at London’s Olympia Exhibition Centre, we had to wonder: is this what we really want?

Survival Of The Fittest

As retail continues to take on a more digital form, experts argue that talented in-store representatives are of paramount importance in omnichannel retail. Engaged salespeople are the brand’s front-line ambassadors. They enhance the customer’s in-store experience and boost the brand’s reputation.

While much can be praised about the capabilities of analytics and the appeal of increasingly sophisticated—and even quirky—robots, there’s a certain degree of creativity and insight into human behavior that, so far at least, can’t be replicated. In other words, where is the right balance between technology and nature?

“We don’t know the breaking point yet,” says Kent, “but with all the great tech on the way, we will get answers for sure. However, people still are, and will be, an important X factor.”

With all this cutting-edge technology, people have yet to design an algorithm that can compete with the interpersonal connection of a skilled store associate.

“Don’t get me wrong,” he adds, “I really love technology. I just love people more.”

“The robots I interacted with were great; smart, funny and quirky,” stated Kent. “But I strongly believe in people and human interaction. We have not yet reached the point where we can match the wonderful dimensions of flesh and blood.”

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