Retail & Distribution

The Retail Technology Show 2024: AI, The Future of Tech and Customer Experience

22 May 2024

Retail Technology Show 2024
4 min
The Retail Technology Show 2024 was a resounding success, full to the brim with industry leaders showcasing the latest innovations in retail.

Despite the great variety of talks and presentations, London’s Olympia was buzzing with the central question ‘How will the tech we see today shape the retail market of 2034?’ The answer revolved around two themes in particular: AI and personalisation of the customer experience.  

Retail & Artificial Intelligence: AI the Future of Tech and Customer Experience  

A keynote panel made up of Technology Directors, Product Directors and Heads of IT, from brands as varied Morrisons, B&Q and Morleys Department Stores, announced that AI was the most requested topic for discussion among retailers in 2024 before going on to speculate how this technology would impact sales cycles and customer expectations. Everybody acknowledged the rapid pace of change in the industry, how developments that previously took years now only take months or weeks. The pressure to stay up to date with retail trends is now more important, but also more difficult than ever, due to rapid pace of change and the added uncertainty of how well these changes will serve retailers over time.  

“It’s about enabling us to spend more time with the customer”  

Customer expectations are higher than ever before and are set by industry giants. In a market where next or even same-day delivery is a norm, it’s essential to offer a service that can compete for customer loyalty. This led to perhaps the most significant and universally agreed upon observation about the use of AI, when John Bates told the panel “It’s about enabling us to spend more time with the customer”. There were many interesting suggestions of how this could be achieved, from more interactive customer journeys via the use of in-store apps, to more sophisticated personalisation of suggested ‘items you may like’ at the virtual checkout. The key takeaway of the panel was that AI’s main use would be empowering customers.  

Unified Commerce is the Future  

Luxury jeweller Swarovski’s Manager Director, Craig Ash, reached a similar conclusion in his presentation on ‘Navigating the Future of Retail’. Though AI’s place in Swarovski’s future was acknowledged throughout, Ash’s primary concern was the present and the use of unified commerce to diversify the customer experience. Opening with the company mantra ‘Customer is Queen’, Ash repeatedly emphasised that a ‘channel agnostic experience is now a basic expectation for the customer’. With slides that presented the company’s focus on ‘Constant Improvement of Omnichannel Touchpoints’, options such as Pay by Link, Click&Collect, Ship from Store and Endless Aisle were shown to the audience as an example of how the retailer is expanding its market by offering more ways to shop. Clearly, it’s working, as a staggering 34% of Swarovski’s sales are omnichannel sales, and it’s not simply a case of prioritising online options. Ash reports that tablet assisted sales are 30% higher than those completed at conventional till-points, which perfectly illustrates that personalising the shopping experience does not necessarily mean getting up-close-and-personal, it’s all about, you guessed it, empowering the customer so they can shop the way they want.  

Customer (Expectations) Demands! 

Oliver Banks, host of ‘The Retail Transformation Show’, was also in attendance this year, taking part in a discussion titled ‘Forget the customer is always right, today they’re in charge!’. Banks too was keen to emphasise the importance of being customer conscious, of letting advancements in retail tech adapt to the customer, rather than letting the tech come first. The key challenge retailers face amidst this brave new world of customer-centric technology, is maintaining brand identity. Keeping up to date with standards set by industry giants makes it increasingly difficult to stand out amongst the crowd, Banks’s suggestion? Personalise the journey, empower the customer.  

RTS 2024 was a fantastic experience for the Cegid team, as the innovators shaping the future of retail came together to share demos and ideas, we were proud to present Cegid Retail, the global Unified Commerce and Retail Operations Platform for retailers.  

“It’s been an incredible show this year, there’s so much going on! It’s astonishing to see just how far the industry has come and it really makes you think, for platforms like ours, about just how much potential there is to keep innovating with tools like AI” – Alan Holcroft, Country Manager, Cegid  

With so much focus on the potential of AI, the challenges retailers face in the new customer-centric landscape and the industry-wide move to personalise the customer experience, Cegid moves forward more inspired than ever to help elevate your retail experience.  

See you at RTS 2025!

Want to learn more about AI and the future of retail? Click below to read our latest eBook on Retail Trends in 2024.