The Quantum Store: What’s next in retail? … at eCom Next 2021

October 7, 2021 at Helsinki

  • Download Peter Fisk’s Helsinki keynote here (limited time only): The Quantum Store

Change is dramatic, pervasive and relentless. The challenges are numerous. The opportunities are greater.

Incredible technologies and geopolitical shifts, complex markets and stagnating growth, demanding customers and disruptive entrepreneurs, environmental crisis and social distrust, unexpected shocks and uncertain futures. The old codes that got us here don’t work anymore. Moving forwards needs a new mindset.

The future isn’t like it used to be

  • Market are fast and dynamic, more change in next 10 years than last 250
  • Leading in complex and uncertain markets, every business is a digital business
  • Covid-19 accelerated change, from Felix to Lifvs, Meituan and Starship
  • Tobi Lutke had a dream for Shopify, to engage people in what they love
  • How Instagram and Fortnite, Glossier and Nike are redefining retail

The quantum store, e-commerce and more

  • Shopping is consumer-driven, tech-enabled, but human and emotional
  • Defining the “quantum” store, and how Nike transformed its retail experience
  • E-commerce and more … personal, fast, easy, dynamic, virtual … and the 3Ss
  • Smart … Stitch Fix’s data … Jio’s superapps … Coupang’s speedy delivery
  • Sociable … Pinduoduo’s games … Zalando’s brands … Glossier’s community
  • Sustainable … Bookshop’s locality … Ecovative’s packaging … Depop’s cool

How can you shape a better future?

  • Now is the time to dare, to accelerate your future – more foresight and vision
  • Start with a bigger purpose, think from the future back, faster and easier
  • Work from the outside in, reframing context, language and experiences
  • Don’t look for what’s next, but what happens after what happens next
  • Lead with curiosity, creativity and courage – bold, brave and brilliant!

This is a session for business leaders who seek to progress in today’s rapidly changing world, and to create the organisations that will thrive in tomorrow’s world.

It explores how to lead a better future, to reimagine your business, to reinvent markets, to energise your people. It describes how to combine profit with more purpose, intelligent technologies with creative people, radical innovation with sustainable impact.

It dives deep into the minds of some of today’s most inspiring business leaders – people like Anne Wojcicki and Jeff Bezos, Emily Weiss and Devi Shetty, Daniel Ek and Tan Le, Mary Barra and Masayoshi Son, Satya Nadella and Zhang Ruimin – and practical retail examples.

  • Explore the FutureStore … case studies on the future of retail

Do you have the courage to create a better future, for you and your business?

Q&A with Peter Fisk

You’re the keynote speaker at an event that aims to inspire the main influencers / opinion leaders on e-commerce, along with online vendors. What can the audience expect from your keynote? Will you concentrate on exploring the themes from your latest book?

Now is the time to dare. Now is the time for leaders to have courage to reimagine their businesses. Now is the time to create the future of retail. Which is not just about digital technologies. Or social media. Or super speedy delivery. But fundamentally harnessing the power of the present to create a better future.

18 months of global health crisis has created a huge opportunity. Every market is being shaken up. In financial services, Visa and Paypal are more valuable than any bank. In automotive, Tesla outperforms Toyota despite selling 10 times less cars. In energy, carbon giants are displaced by Orsted and Schneider. Even in food and drink, Kweichow Moutai is twice as valuable as Coca Cola, or Unilever, or Diageo.

Of course, the pandemic has also been a difficult time, but like “wei-je” (the Chinese word for crisis) when translated means both danger and opportunity. 57% of Fortune 500 companies were created in a downturn, 90% of patents are filed in or just after a downturn. And many retailers describe how 10 years of transformation happened, in just a few months of lockdown.

My new book “Business Recoded” argues that the old codes of business don’t work. The maelstrom of change, driven by disruptive technologies, by economic power shifts, by new agendas like sustainability, and by consumer attitude change, have all been accelerated by Covid-19. We now need to reimagine, reinvent, recode our businesses for a better future.

If so, how would you say that the courage to create a successful and innovative company in the future applies specifically to e-commerce? What does “a better future” mean in this context? What previous research experience or insight do you have about e-commerce? How has the market changed along the years and where is it heading?

Firstly, we are at the point now where every company is a digital business, and similarly within retail, every retailer is an e-commerce business.

We can talk about all the new tools and tactics in e-commerce – from video streaming influencers to augmented reality, hybrid channels and subscription models, rapid research and streamlining returns, site loading speeds to new payment options, brand showcases and consumer personalisation, speedy delivery  and sustainability.

But what’s important is to stop thinking of it in a separate way from physical formats. By that I don’t just mean omnichannel, but moving to a point where we create a truly “liquid” experience for customers, which embraces the best of physical and digital opportunities.

My expectation today as a consumer is that every retailer, however small or niche, will have a website. And from that website I can engage, ideally transactionally. But it’s more than that How can my mobile phone help me navigate the physical store? How can it become more personal by individual offers and advice? How can I buy online and collect or take back to store? Or buy instore, and get delivered to my home? None of this is rocket science, but is harder if we think in silos.

Look at the way in which Nike has transformed its distribution model over the last 24 months. The sportswear company has massively invested in its mobile platform – not just for incredible efficient and simple purchasing, but with a wide range of content to enjoy sport and engage audiences. VIP clubs, limited editions, celebrity events, dynamic pricing and relevant offers. But also its physical branded stores, which is equally a digitally-enabled, immersive-brand experience. Nike really is a direct-to-consumer brand today, and a great example of liquid retail.

I’m a big fan of Tobi Lutke, the German entrepreneur who followed his love of skiing to Canada. There, he created his own online snowboarding shop, but focused on what his consumers loved – the stories of snowboarding, not simply the products. This richer content engaged people more deeply, his brand became a community, and his physical store, a cult hangout for snow lovers.

Other retailers loved his online store so much that they wanted to create a similar brand experience. And so Tobi create Shopify, which is a cloud-based, subscription-based “e-commerce in a box” which provides everything from inventory and distribution, to payments and promotional tools. The smallest store in Finland can become a global business.

How has the global pandemic and these exceptional times influenced your thinking regarding your main topics of interest and research? And what does the disruption mean to e-commerce?

The pandemic has massively accelerated the application of digital technologies, for online transactions, and much more broadly in terms of brand building, supply chains, product and sales personalisation, inventory management, channel partners, local relevance, pricing models, and customer experience.

It’s also changing customer attitudes and behaviours forever. Banking, communication, entertainment, healthcare have all become digital-centric experience. But so has retail, and particularly in areas such as transport, hospitality, music, books, fashion and groceries. That’s not news.

But what is interesting, are the consequences. Social media platforms like Instagram and Pinterest are now significant retailers – click on a photo shared by a friend, and you can buy the same item instantly. Gaming platforms, like Fortnite, have become the new spaces to engage young people in new ideas, product launches and brands – Travis Scott just launched his latest album, and “tour” on the gaming platform.

In Singapore, DBS, the leading bank pioneered a strategy to “make banking invisible” and to embed its financial services within every other industry that matters to customers – not just for payments, but to manage money better. At the same time, Grab, which is a taxi and grocery delivery business, introduced Grab Pay, which has become a leading financial business.

In India, Jio was a phone company launched by the country’s richest entrepreneur – Mukesh Ambani, whose main business was in petrochemicals. He launched the phone with free calls and text, and became market leader with 3 months. He also became the leading advertising platform, the ad revenues subsidising the free calls. He then started using the phone to build Jio apps for different services – food delivery, taxi hailing, entertainment, grocery retail, healthcare and financial services.

Jio, Grab – and similarly others around the world like Line, GoJek, Rappi and WeChat – are super apps, which ignore the old boundaries of business sectors. Instead they focus on the customer, and see the world through their eyes. Indeed, by extension, every type of business can be a retailer today – banks and phone companies, manufacturers and game companies.

The event will include announcing and discussing the results of a major e-commerce survey and awarding the year’s best e-commerce sites. What would you say that makes the best online vendors stand out from the competition? Any personal favourites to share?

Now is the time for every business – and particularly every retailer – to reimagine their future. What matters, is to not be limited by where you come from – whether you are big or small, physical or digital – but by the vision which you have. And that vision should not just be to “sell lots of stuff”, but to make the world better in some way – to help people to do what they seek to do better, be that run faster or build a better home, care for the environment, and more equality in society.

Don’t be limited by technology thinking, don’t be intimidated by its language and complexity. Focus on the future, and how you can create a better future for customers. Start from the future back, and the outside in. Think in a liquid way, about the human experience you want to create and how that can be enhanced physically and digitally.

Who are my favourites?

Around the world, I love the rise of these new generation businesses – like StockX where consumers bid for purchases in an auction, most often focused on limited edition sneakers. There are so many great examples, which I will talk about. Like Pinduoduo, one of the fastest growing retailers in the world right now, which transformed itself from an online retailer to be a social-gamified-shopping experience. Imagine walking along a mall with friends, sharing things which catch your eye, playing games to win discounts, live-streaming your experience to friends.

Or Stitch Fix, developed by Katrina Lake, which sells fashion by monthly subscription, sending you a box of clothes each month, and using data analytics to rapidly learn which clothes you will like best.  Or Bookshop, developed by Andy Hunter from Canada, with a business model supporting small independent physical bookstores, providing an collaborative online local-to-global sales platform, and an antidote to the power of Amazon!

In Europe, I’m a big fan of Rapha, which started in the UK, as a brand of premium cycle wear, rapidly opening stores across the world called Cycle Clubs, with coffee shops, showers and bike stores. Or Germany’s Zalando which has gone beyond simple transactions to build better product brand experiences within its platform, and to engage with people on the big sustainability issues in areas such as fast fashion, packaging, and deliveries.

All in all, what should be the main takeaway from your keynote?

We live in an incredible time of opportunity – more change in the next 10 years than the last 250 years – harnessing the power of technology to transform markets and business models, embracing sustainability to innovate everything from logistics to packaging, using the power of data to personalise in mass markets, and much more.

Now is the time to dare, for business leaders to have the courage and creativity to reimagine the future of their retail businesses, and to use this moment – as we emerge from the pandemic – to accelerate a better business future.

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