Shoppers scrolling, not strolling in AI-powered retail revolution


DUBAI — AI-powered shop assistants know what you want to buy before you do, and have an innate sense of how to meet customer needs.

In the age of Artificial Intelligence, anything is possible as retailers eagerly embrace new technology to create a shopping experience driven by the demands of millennials and Gen Z consumers.

“Today’s shoppers are scrolling, not strolling,” said Chieh Huang, CEO of Boxed, the American online and mobile membership-free wholesale retailer.

“On-the-go millennials and Gen Z consumers are all about convenient shopping experiences. To meet the needs of younger, tech-savvy shoppers, retailers are investing in channels that make shopping feel less like a chore.”

Huang will be among more than 60 speakers descending on Dubai next month for The Retail Summit, an important new event bringing together 600 international retailers from every business sector.

Taking place at Atlantis, The Palm on Feb. 13-14, and to be held in partnership with the Dubai Chamber of Commerce & Industry and Meydan One, the event is being launched in response to the digital disruption and change in consumer expectations that are transforming retail.

While major organizations may dominate the retail revolution, Huang said small operators will not be far behind. “As large retailers work on improving their digital experiences for shoppers, we›re going to see a heavy investment in developing proprietary technology,” he says. “The biggest impact to retail business will be the shift in the perception of retailers as technology companies.”

“As retailers create new software to accelerate and innovate their services, they›ll branch out to license their technology to other companies— similar to what we›ve seen with the Amazon Web Service (AWS) model.

“Many regional and smaller grocers will license software and fulfillment technology from digital-first companies to support their burgeoning e-commerce capabilities.”

“From one-click ordering on mobile apps, to subscription services and predictive reordering, to shoppable Instagram posts, retailers are making it easier to capture consumer attention. The challenge lies in striking a balance between maintaining your identity as a retailer and establishing a profitable technology business.”

With millennials and Gen Z set to make up the majority of purchasing power, another top speaker at The Retail Summit says it’s vital to recognise that the two groups have distinct characteristics.

“First, they really are different generations,” emphasized Steve Evans, Senior Vice President of American fashion designer Fossil. “Millennials served as pioneer users of technology while Gen Zs were born with it.

“We see Millennials more focused on digital-only experiences and they are often looking to discover what’s ‘next’. Gen Zs are clear and comfortable with their personal suite of technology. Both expect to be communicated with in a customized and personal way.”

Evans says technology has enhanced the science of data collection and predictive analytics, creating a real opportunity to develop the art of both data collection and insights.

He added: “In the end, it all comes down to understanding the consumer’s journey in order to best serve their needs and this is happening in real time, which is a major shift in how we have historically worked.”

“Here’s what hasn’t changed – consumers care about getting a great product that is right for them. They also expect a great experience, whether it’s through the right digital ads, in-store experiences or the selection of products offered to them.”

Headline speakers attending The Retail Summit 2019 in Dubai include billionaire entrepreneur and Virgin Group Founder Sir Richard Branson, Hamad Buamim, President & CEO, Dubai Chamber of Commerce & Industry, and beauty powerhouse Huda Kattan, founder and CEO of Huda Beauty, one of the most successful and fastest growing new brands to be launched this decade.

With a packed agenda featuring inspiring topics of discussion across the two-day Summit, other industry heavyweights confirmed to participate include:

• Julia Goldin, Chief Marketing Officer, The LEGO Group

• Lorenzo Viglione, CEO, Moleskine

• Mona Kattan, Co-founder and Global President, Huda Beauty

• Christina Scocchia, CEO, Kiko Milano

The Retail Summit is supported by event partners Dubai Chamber of Commerce & Industry and Meydan One; Silver partners: Black Jack, CBRE, KPMG, Openbravo, SAP, Umdasch and Xpandretail; Strategic partners: BJSS, Cegid, Lava Moments and Nook. — SG