‘I would rather have updated payment systems than another in-store yoga class’

At the we’ll be hosting inspiring talks, panel discussions and engaging workshops, alongside several multisensorial exhibitions and immersive displays.

One of – that is, the creation of ultimate personalisation without losing sight of communal goals – is Understanding the Connected Customer. What happens when, thanks to the way the retail industry uses personal data, everybody knows your name? In her talk, the chief innovation officer at will look at how to build the store of the future and why human interaction will be key in the fourth industrial revolution.

We spoke with her to get a glimpse of what’s to come. If you’re interested in attending the talk, you can .

The backlash to online customer tracking is increasing – from to . How much resistance do you think customers are offering on the mortar side of the phygital equation, as opposed to the click side?
RACHEL ARTHUR: Privacy is a hot topic today, quite understandably, and it certainly translates to the offline world as much as the online one. If anything, more so. We are very used to arriving at a website and being welcomed by name and recommended different product options. If that happened in a store, when you weren't quite prepared for it, it would certainly be perceived as quite inappropriate behaviour. This presents a huge challenge but also an opportunity for retailers – while data protection is critical, there are equally an increasing number of customers who want and expect greater relevancy than ever. Playing this game therefore is a delicate balance.

The one thing all retailers are not paying enough attention to is how experience can balance with convenience

Here are two big names designing physical retail spaces with online data: Ssense's Montreal headquarters and Nike's House of Innovation 000  - Photos courtesy of Ssense and Shepherd Laughlin 

In luxury retail, we are seeing a return to intensive face-to-face concierge services, but actually aided by silent tech behind the scenes. Is this what you mean by more, not less, human interaction in the fourth industrial revolution?
Yes, absolutely. The role of technology is increasingly invisible, but what it enables us to do is offer increasingly impressive service and, ultimately, scalability. The perfect example lies in personal shopping – what technology gives me in that world is the ability to offer you greater insights on what individuals would like based on their preferences, tastes and previous purchases, and iterate quickly to see alternative options and even tailored results.

What is the one thing Western European retailers are not paying attention to?
The one thing all retailers are not paying enough attention to is how experience can balance with convenience. The former is the word du jour, with everyone jumping on greater experiential moments designed to drive shoppers in store, encourage dwell time and hope for conversions, but actually what consumers most desire is more seamless or frictionless service. Technology that just gets the job done, in that case, is critical. I would much rather have updated payment systems than another in-store yoga class was put on in a store.

The St-W Lab is taking place this 20-21 February in Amsterdam. And here’s a bonus to keep in mind: gives you access to the live judging.

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