With Article 50 triggered, the next step on the bumpy road to exit is what type of deal will the UK Government be gunning for? Whoever wins the election on June 8th it seems certain that either Conservative or even Labour will have no choice but to bear down on immigration. With unemployment at their lowest levels since records began in 1975 then the pressure on finding good quality staff will become even more acute.
This was the overriding theme of RBTE 2017.
As a new attendee to the event what struck me wasn’t just the fast acceleration of automation to replace labour, but also the choices in front of retailers to use this revolution to improve customer engagement and experience on the high street. Amongst the 370 trade exhibitors at the event there was a vast array of new technologies to develop the high street retail experience, not only to make it more exciting but also smarter and more bespoke.
This included a very fast-growing range of smart kiosks and touch screen devices and a growing array of people analytic devices and software to truly detect how people shop and what they enjoy. Overlay the emergence of 5G technology and faster digital networks and the high street could see a true makeover in the next 5 to 10 years.
As exciting is that the younger generation clearly appreciate the high street experience and have evolved lives that neatly combine the benefits of online with those of store shopping. This reinforces the need for retailers to combine both channels in an effective way.
The internet and the high street should not be viewed as separate businesses but promoted as a ‘joined-up’ shopping experience.