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Opening with a vivid example of how power has shifted from sellers to buyers, Pat Bakey, Global GM for Retail, addressed the 58th Global Summit of the Consumer Goods Forum in Paris. He shared the adventures of “Sonia,” a connected consumer of the Millennial generation living in Paris.

“She is willing to share personal information about herself with companies and retailers only if they can tailor her experiences, deliver products and services that suit her lifestyle at the right time and context”, explains Pat.  “Sonia has woven technology into her life and expects all the benefits, convenience and immediacy that come from being connected in every sense of the word.”

The Forum is a global network of CEOs and senior executives from 400 elite retailers, consumer goods, and service providers from over 70 countries. Its mission is to bring together consumer goods manufacturers and retailers to address positive change across the industry that benefit shoppers.

This year’s theme, ‘Growth Through Change’, sheds a global perspective on the digital shift that is marking our century. The Global Summit is a CEO level event in which they gain key insights into the challenges facing retailers and consumer product companies today. As a whole, the attendees are strategic decision-makers and key influencers in defining the future of the retail and consumer industries. Several key retailers are active in governance: Carrefour, REWE, L’Oreal, AEON, Dohle Handelsgruppe; with summit participants ranging from to Ahold and Amazon to Walmart and Woolworths SA.

SAP took part in a well-attended session with Pat Bakey (highlight video) addressing the timely topic “Responding to the Next Wave of Retail Disruption.” Accenture, Ernest & Young, and Boston Consulting Group were among the companies addressing the Global Summit attendees.

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Applying the metaphor of an ocean surfer, Pat spoke of the inherent power that comes by timing the wave just right, of tapping into that amazing source of energy to create a truly memorable experience.  The key to responding and harnessing the energy of the next wave of Retail begins by understanding changes along three concentric circles of industry, consumer, and technology.

  • What’s happening in your industry: supremacy of the super aggregators such as eBay, Amazon, and Alibaba; new business models and value chains; and, going direct to the consumer
  • What’s going on with your consumers: information overflow from word of mouth and peer Sharing; experiences trumping transactions; the call for ethical and sustainable business practices;  innovate with your customers for new revenue; the ‘Now’ economy requires real-time business
  • What are the latest technology trends:  ubiquitous utilization of technology; attacking retail’s complexity; Big Data from insight to action; digitization of everything and Internet of Things; and, delivering on Omni-commerce

With the confluence of the above trends, retailers find themselves at most risk as they run a complex business AND find their shoppers dictating their world.  We have all become fully aware that customers are driving everything across all industries, but nowhere is this phenomenon more true or intense than it is in Retail.

So how will retailers and consumer products companies respond?  Just as in ocean surfing where risk resides below the surface and opportunity above – simultaneously, retailers and consumer products companies can shift the risks in these disruptive trends to tangible opportunities across by listening to and inventing for, and with, their customers. “Technology only matters when we can create value for people! Innovation will help the Retail and Consumer Products industry to open new dialogue with their shoppers to deliver more value and drive loyalty through new interactions.”

You can join me on Twitter @bizuser
And you can engage Pat Bakey on Twitter @pbakey

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