In this session, our panel of experts RETHINK Retail's new 'Future of Commerce' report to draw on insights and unpack the coming changes that are, or soon will be, disrupting the ecommerce world.
Key themes in the RETHINK Retail report
The rise of direct to consumer
The role of the store
Opportunities around AI
The hot conversation around social commerce
Why word of mouth marketing is more important than ever
Innovation in last-mile delivery and why consumers are being irresponsible
The future of commerce.
Direct to consumer has been one of the biggest buzzwords of recent years, acknowledged to a panel of guests discussing the RETHINK Retail report deep dive.
“What it has come to mean is that companies are value first brands,” said Richard Kestenbaum, Partner at Triangle Capital LLC and Contributor at Forbes.com. He said in the past brands were about status but he said that’s over. Instead, brands are now about values such as sustainability. “Direct to consumer brands need a way to market and when they latch on to personal values then consumers are happy to tell their friends why they identify with brands, and that reduces customer acquisition costs.”
Ron Thurston, Founder of Take Pride Today and author of Retail Pride, agreed. He said it had never been easier to sell online. “The challenge is you need a really strong point of view that is rooted in something you feel strongly about but also need to have a strong social media presence,” he said.
Today was one of the most exciting times to build a D2C brand, he said. But Kestenbaum argued that in other ways selling online had never been more challenging because of the need for visibility.
Physical stores, such as pop-up spaces that express their brand also have a place but again have challenges, said Thurston.
Kestenbaum pointed out it is not enough to just have ‘stuff’ in store but described the need to have targeted, relevant events that relate to your products and the values to attract consumers instore. “If consumers share your values and what happens in the stores relates to your values then the right people are going to come in to experience what you are doing in the store,” he said.
The panel also discussed the opportunity of AI within retail, with Thurston saying that retailers needed to remember the importance of human interaction rather than just relying on technology. “There are people walking by you who would love to have a conversation,” he said.
However, Kestenbaum argued that AI can help brands reach another level of consumer connection. “I think AI will have a very profound effect on retail,” he said.
The role of personalization within retail was also analyzed. “There’s an art and a science and we often think the science is sufficient but it’s a combination,” said Sucharita Kodali, Retail Analyst at Forrester.
Although social commerce and live selling offers huge opportunities, Thurston outlined some of the challenges that retailers are facing in delivering the new channel.