What will the retail of tomorrow look like?
How can companies generate and interpret customer data in order to enable a great customer journey?
Which kind of experience do customers wish and why is in-store storytelling so important?
These were just some of the questions discussed recently by three top-management experts at “Darwins Circle“. This event took place in the historic building Haus der Industrie in Vienna where top-level decision-makers, renowned experts and influencers met and swapped ideas about how the digitalized world will look like in the future.
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The experts who discussed “The New Era of Commerce” were (from right):
- Terry von Bibra, General Manager Europe of Alibaba
- Markus Braun, CEO of Wirecard
- Marcel Haraszti, Management Board Member of REWE International
The moderator Rainer Nowak, from Austrian newspaper “Die Presse”, guided the panel discussion.
Prior to the panel, Alibaba’s Terry von Bibra introduced the subject by delivering an insightful keynote speech about “China Insights: The New Retail Model”. Alibaba’s Alipay, the “largest mobile payment system of the world” – even though currently available in China only – plays a central role in state-of-the-art retail.
According to Terry von Bibra, the Chinese are so used to uniquely paying with their smartphones that they always carry external chargers with them – because if their battery lets them down, they have no idea what to pay with.
“Every technology is only about the value it offers to customers” – Terry von Bibra, #Alibaba
Today, Chinese consumers are considered to be the most demanding, sophisticated, and well-informed in the world. Even though they are extremely technological-savvy, emotional factors like storytelling matter a lot to them, von Bibra explained:
“Storytelling is very important for Chinese customers. Product and company descriptions are easily 15 pages long – for example, including details what did the factory look like when it first started, where did the founders go to school and much more.”
In the following panel discussion, Wirecard’s CEO Markus Braun entirely agreed with him and emphasized that “good brands must tell stories.” He shared his vision that in the future, functional and lifestyle products will be differentiated allowing retail to have much more space for storytelling.
In Markus Braun’s opinion, the future store will not only be a physical store, it will be a logistical hub to serve the near term environment. That means that even big retail chains shift the directions: Imagine if consumers can buy online, and stationary retail stores are there to deliver goods just in time within 30 minutes.
A big retail chain has to deliver such visions and then step by step use digital technology to make that a reality. Hence, every retailer must find the technology that fits its business.
For Wirecard’s CEO, digitalization is not to be seen as a disruption, but more as an evolution, an ongoing process. One possibility to get into the evolutionary process of digital transformation are, for example, fully digitalized loyalty and couponing programs.
“Future of Retail means transforming the point-of-sale into a point-of-experience” @_MarkusBraun, CEO
And now enjoy the full video of the panel discussion here: