Future Of Retail 2019

Tech underpins the future of retail

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Chloé Vaughan

Electric vehicles, food tech, drone deliveries and data collection are being integrated into the newest schemes by retail developers. The Future of Retail conference highlighted the changing role of retail in city and town centres, and how the future was dependent on new and innovative technologies.

Discussion at the event, organised by Place North West, included:

Electric vehicles

  • Ian Standring, director at WSP, said: “In terms of an electric revolution, I see electric vehicles as something that can provide an opportunity. We need to look a step further at a masterplan around new mobility. It’s something we should be considering in a building development timeline to make sure the infrastructure is there. More people are buying electric vehicles, and we predict an exponential curve of people moving from petrol and diesel over to electric”
  • “By telling people that the charging point infrastructure exists and showing them where it is, we can attract people.” Standring said on how to make EV more integrated. “This creates an opportunity for both branding and to encourage people to become greener by making this technology more accessible and prominent”
  • “Free charging is not the way forward” according to Standring “as people hog it. What we need to think about is more of a rollout across petrol stations and around city and town centres. This also means that people won’t only charge their EV’s at night, but throughout the day, which would have caused a problem with electricity companies’ supply if it wasn’t better spread out”
  • Standring also predicts that automation isn’t far behind. “We need to think about creating autonomous drop off zones, which will help with Manchester’s severe lack of greenspace and help us be carbon neutral”
  • Phil Hepworth, associate director at AEW Architects said that he sees “the future full of drones dropping things off”, and can see deliveries and logistics evolving in a similar vein
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Ian Standring envisions ‘Electric Vehicles coming sooner than anyone expects’

Climate change solutions

  • “In order to combat climate change, we have to build better” according to Hepworth. “Creating thermally efficient buildings and better, more efficient transport links is the key”
  • Dan Sweeney, partner at TLT, said: “Boohoo have just added a head of sustainability in the face of criticism over its ‘fast fashion’ approach.” He also said that logistics and delivery as another key focus. “As consumers we demand that retailers provide the same fast accessibility of their goods, but the impact of all the freight on the roads, its logistics, its supply, and its packaging all costs money, so there’s something to be done here”
  • Standring saw staff wellbeing and climate change as going hand in hand. “Cooling and lighting systems to make spaces greener, also work by providing more natural light and fresh air, which help staff and customers feel better as well. It is driven by policy and conscious targets and is a positive opportunity to use less energy, save money, and encourage health and wellbeing”
  • Andrea George, director at Bruntwood, said to keep an eye on foodtech. “Bruntwood recently partnered with YFood, the largest food tech community in London, and brought them up to Manchester to participate in a series of talks. There is a scientific side to food innovation and personalisation, including having your DNA tested and then food delivered to suit your taste. Mimica Labs has created a label that is placed inside packaging and is smooth when in date and has ridges when it’s gone off. This could make a massive impact on packaging standards and saving plastic”
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Andrea George explains the evolution of food technology and how it will overall help make places more sustainable

Data collection

  • Alison Niven, regional director at Intu Trafford Centre, said “We used footfall data collected through CCTV and other technology in order to determine the demographic and then invest more money into its catchment. With people equally likely to shop online as in physical stores, we need to look at data in order to attract people correctly such as through marketing campaigns. Data is black gold; it’s beyond value”
  • “The role of influencers can’t be diminished” said Alison Clegg, director of asset management at Grosvenor Europe, owner of Liverpool One. “In order to attract people to the centre, if you have people posting Instagram worthy content and they see it, it attracts a completely new and younger demographic. You can’t underestimate the power of social media and collecting audiences and data from there”
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From left: Alison Niven, regional director at Intu Trafford Centre; Jessica Middleton-Pugh, editor of Place North West; and Alison Clegg, director of asset management at Grosvenor Europe, owner of Liverpool One

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