We embarked on Day 3 of Retail (R)Evolution 2018, with a picture-perfect Southern California day. The agenda shifted from retailers describing their efforts to transform and meet rising consumer expectations, to the technologies driving profound changes for retail and other industries.
Retail futurist and best-selling author, Doug Stephens agreed with Lila’s point from the previous day about the importance of what happens after consumers hit the buy button. He said the challenge for ecommerce companies is not getting us to buy products but getting those products to us ASAP. Cutting-edge applications like robotics, AI and 3D printing will help retailers evolve to keep up and keep rising labor and transportation costs in line.
He shared his predictions for the continuing rise of ecommerce and how this will shift the role of the brick-and-mortar store from showroom, to marketing channel to brand experience hub. With unemployment at an all-time low and labor costs rising, Doug challenged the audience: “If your labor were 50% cheaper, how would that change your business?” That opened the door for the following presentations:
Kieren James-Lubin, CEO of Block Apps, demystified blockchain technology and shared practical applications. From supply chain tracking to import/export compliance to payment security, these are some of the technology implementations that already exist within the ecommerce space today.
Next, industry expert Alan Guyan discussed the near- and long-term impact of 3D printing and additive manufacturing on ecommerce and logistics and the potential to disrupt supply chains and revolutionize product personalization. Scott Phoenix, CEO of Vicarious Robotics took a thought-provoking look at how the true industrial automation is going to come from robots that ‘think’ like humans. His prediction: In 15 years, there will be more robots than cell phones.
Our retail predictions continued with a round-up panel discussion moderated by Doug Stephens, addressing innovations with real impact: logistics automation, 3D printing, blockchain, how-and-when these innovations will become commonplace and either push the industry backward or forward.
Wrapping up the day, we sat down with documentary filmmaker, Alex Horwitz for an exclusive screening and discussion of his latest film, Autonomy, which chronicles the development of the self-driving car and the future implications for our industry. Autonomy debuted a few weeks ago at SXSW, and this is only the second time audiences have seen the film. We spoke about the inevitable implications of this evolving technology and where the context of the “car” intersects with the coming revolution in mobility – a topic relevant to all in the audience who rely on getting products through the supply chain and to the consumer’s door.
As they say in the movie business, that’s a wrap on Retail (R)Evolution 2019. As our guests head back home, we hope they have learned more about what’s new in the industry and how together, we can solve old problems in new ways.