Tweets, Takeaways and Tips from the Retail Symposium London

Aura Koljonen

On 26th of June we attended the Retail Symposium London, organised by the British Retail Consortium. This UK Retail event of the year had a very interesting speaker line-up and provided a great opportunity to gain valuable insights into industry trends and news. Here are the highlights we picked up from the conference.


Relevancy is key for marketing success. But knowing the customer is not as easy as it sounds. However, as we learned at the recent Retail Symposium in London, with current technologies, retailers are able to collect data on consumers’ location, preferences and shopping behaviour and deliver targeted and relevant marketing messages. In return, consumers are increasingly willing to trade data for personalisation. A recent study shows that most consumers will share personal and location data in return for a more personalised and targeted shopping experience.



Personalisation was mentioned several times during the London conference. Marc Fox, Managing Director of Starbucks UK, also touched on the issue, when he explained how the company has made personalisation Starbucks’ core strategy, and implemented it throughout its processes and practices. Starbucks has undeniably been a forerunner in marketing personalisation and its ‘My Rewards’ program is a great example of how retailers can utilise customer data in personalising the in-store experience with customised rewards and offerings.


Omnichannel experience

Now more than ever, consumers are expecting seamless shopping experiences across store, online and mobile. To meet these expectations retailers are making every effort to merge the digital and physical channels through omnichannel commerce.

During his presentation, Boots’ Managing Director Simon Roberst told how the company has been turning its focus to the omnichannel experience in order to adapt to customers’ changing shopping behavior and expectations.  The all-purpose pharmacy chain – with branches in most British high streets - has integrated the omnichannel approach to its loyalty program as well, and their customers are now able to earn points and receive offers wherever they shop – online or offline.


Digital customer engagement

A growing number of retailers are making digital customer engagement their high strategic priority. This was evident at the Retail Symposium and the ‘digital transformation’ that the retail industry is currently going through was one of the leading themes in London. Argos was one of the companies highlighting their recent focus on digital engagement. John Walden, the Chief Executive of Argos, told that the company is opening new digital concept stores that offer, for example, 60-second collection service for items ordered online and self-service iPads for in-store shoppers. 

Mobile is playing an ever-growing role in consumers’ omnichannel shopping journey and many retailers are embracing it as the bridge between the physical and digital worlds. Smartphone owners are increasingly using their device to search information while out shopping and store owners are starting to see showrooming as an opportunity, not as a threat.


In-store intelligence

One interesting questions that came up during the recent conference was how to use the digital environment to drive in-store traffic and purchases. As consumers are becoming more and more digitally engaged, it is only natural that retailers are increasingly using digital channels to drive sales.

Even though it's clear that online marketing has an influence on offline purchasing, it is difficult to see and measure how the digital marketing investments translate into in-store behavior and sales. Understanding this would help retailers, for example, to make smarter spending and investment decisions. This is one of Walkbase’s core competencies so we were happy to hear that retailers are beginning to understand the opportunities that lie in it.

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Walkbase provides a retail analytics solution for improving the impact of marketing on physical stores and personalising in-store shopping experience.