On the road @ Future Stores: Proving stores do have a bright future

David Buckingham
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We recently had the opportunity to attend the Future Stores conference in London, billed as ‘The only true benchmarking opportunity for in-store experience innovators from Europe’s most progressive retailers’.

The buzz was mainly around the recent phenomenon of showrooming, rampant store closings and how the growth in digital channels has greatly impacted bricks and mortar sales. Traditional retail is at a pivotal point in time. The goal of a store (whether pop-up or permanent) is simple: to convert customers. How can retailers make the in-store purchase process as easy as it is online, to ensure that stores are hitting not only traffic numbers, but conversion numbers, too? As a result, WBR created the Future Stores conference focused on the pain points facing today’s retailers.

We keep hearing over and over again that retail is dying and the future is e-commerce. It was refreshing to attend an event focused around bricks and mortar stores and to see retailers engaging in passionate discussions about their strong potential and place in a modern retail landscape. We learned that nearly two thirds (64%) of retailers have claimed they plan to increase spend on in-store innovation this year, with more than half (56%) stating that this will be a sum of more than £1 million, based on the findings from WBR Digital and Retail Connections’ latest report.

The theme for the first day was focused around increasing customer engagement with digital, something we know all about here at Ecrebo. Consumers increasingly expect a more digital experience when they shop in-store, especially digital natives, who expect it as standard. Technologies like digital receipts give retailers a means to engage with customers post-transaction, driving future sales, loyalty and less one-time shoppers.

Day two was all about monetising digital in-store and understanding how a retailer’s digital investments can actually drive revenue. We heard real-life case studies from brands that have managed to make that a reality through profitable connected experiences. In today’s uncertain climate, proving the ROI of a technology investment is increasingly important. Retailers aren’t just looking at technology that’s nice to have, it has to have an impact on their bottom line.

The conference boasted an impressive speaker line-up including presentations from leading retailers including: Tesco, M&S, Lego, Swarovski, John Lewis, B&Q, Boots and Arcadia. There were so many thought-provoking panels, discussions and workshops on subjects that really matter to those of us in the industry, especially for retailers and what the future might look like.

It was refreshing to see that everyone came with an open mind to share their challenges and ideas. With over 150 UK retailers specialising in a wide range of categories such as customer experience, retail operations, e-commerce, marketing, mobile and IT, the Future Stores event was a wonderful opportunity to talk with peers and industry colleagues about problems we are all facing as businesses operating within the retail sector today.

Overall, it was a great way to spend two days understanding how retailers can better connect with their customers, unlock the full potential of physical stores and drive in-store sales. What will be interesting will be to see how customer expectations evolve over the coming months. We look forward to attending next year!  


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