This year’s conference will give you the knowledge you need to compete today.

Retail Week Conference 2012: What topics will be covered?

This year’s The Cloud Retail Week Conference will encompass everything from disruptive technology to the nature of leadership in 2012. In a changing industry that is under pressure in difficult economic times it is more important than ever to stay abreast of developments. As our round-up of some of this year’s main themes shows, there is plenty to keep retailers busy.

Transformational technology

Technology’s impact on retail is set to be significant this year, as mobile continues to reshape the way many consumers shop and retailers carry on working towards becoming fully cross channel. The conference will give an insight into the ways technology will impact retailers, focusing on everything from the role of mobile as an online-offline bridge to the management of large volumes of data.

Among the great speakers we have Morrisons chief information officer Gary Barr, who will discuss how, through effective technology collaboration with partners, the retailer enhanced customer service, as well as delivering business improvements.

Other technology experts taking part in the conference include Google director of retail, technology and business markets, Peter Fitzgerald and Barclaycard Payment Acceptance head of innovation programmes James McDonald. BSkyB chief financial officer Andrew Griffith will talk about responding to customers in the digital world.

Overall, technology is having and will continue to have a transformative effect on retail in the years to come – not only are business models  changing, but new technologies and innovations keep coming apace.

There is no place for complacency. Even the best innovators can fall behind, but you can rest assured you will gain great insight on the latest developments from our expert contributors.

The multichannel mix

It might have been a seismic trend for some years, but the nature of the change shows just how fundamental it is. Not only must retailers overhaul their supply chains, marketing and pricing to ensure all work across channels, but they even have to think of themselves in a new way.

For many embarking on or in the middle of multichannel projects the most helpful advice to hear is from other retailers doing similar things.

This year’s conference will offer a plethora of examples of the work retailers are doing on becoming fully multichannel, such as House of Fraser’s click-and-collect stores and Diesel’s approach to preserving a brand in a more interconnected world.

Alan White

Alan White

There will be tips on how to integrate channels, choose the right digital strategy, commercialise social media and capitalise on click-and-collect.

Among the expert speakers on multichannel issues are director Simon Forster, MyDeco chairman and founder Brent Hoberman, N Brown chief executive Alan White and House of Fraser executive director, multichannel, international, Robin Terrell.

In a rapidly changing retail world, you will hear from those at the forefront of the transformation.

Fresh perspectives

When times are tough inspiration is often needed and it will not be in short supply at The Cloud Retail Week Conference.

A consistent highlight of the event has been the entrepreneurs’ panel, which provides the chance to draw inspiration from some of the industry’s most successful business builders.

This year participants include Roger Wade, creator of the innovative Boxpark pop-up shopping centre in east London and Tom Allason, founder of Shutl, the pioneering 90-minute delivery provider that has enabled retailers Aurora and Argos to up the multichannel ante.

As the rise of digital technology changes business, delegates will be able to get fresh perspectives from speakers at the heart of change. BSkyB chief financial officer Andrew Griffith will speak on how digital opportunity can be leveraged as a key part of the retail mix.

And delegates are likely to find inspiration in spades from London College of Fashion students who will compete in a contest to create a ‘Brand Britain’ and Olympics-themed marketing campaign.

George Davies

George Davies

We’ve lined up a fantastic panel of judges – Asos founder Nick Robertson, Next legend George Davies and former New Look chairman Phil Wrigley.

And B&Q’s ‘youth board’ will share their insights into how young people shop.

The customer is king

Retailers must know their customers inside out but that is an ongoing challenge as the market changes so quickly.

While there is plenty of data out there and lots of ways to find out about consumers, in many ways this makes it more difficult. Data and information doesn’t automatically produce insight into customers, and the sheer wealth of facts and figures available means it is easy to feel overwhelmed.

The conference this year will discuss in detail what today’s consumer wants. In a changed world, that is almost as hard to keep up with as the latest social network or this week’s most popular iPhone app – shoppers are evolving at warp speed and they are getting more demanding.

Charlie Mayfield

Charlie Mayfield

As John Lewis Partnership chairman Charlie Mayfield will address, a challenging economic period combined with a digital revolution means a new retailing formula will be needed.

Ogilvy Group UK vice-chairman Rory Sutherland will share his expertise, drawn from the latest brand, psychology and consumer research.

Alliance Boots chief executive Alex Gourlay will be among those exploring the key issues affecting the consumer economy.

With so much choice for shoppers, retailers must excel to stand out and it is those managing to do this who will reap the rewards.

Knowing the customer is crucial. You can be confident of coming away from the conference with plenty of fresh insight into today’s consumer.

Winning in global markets

Often upheld as the holy grail of retail growth, expansion into new markets nonetheless requires careful thought and even more careful planning. This year’s conference will outline the dynamics inherent in global retailing.

While the opportunities are massive, international trading is not easy as retail’s litany of past failures has proven. Cultural and logistical concerns must be closely considered. But many UK retailers have proven successful despite the challenges, and speakers from some of the country’s most successful international retail businesses will share their secrets on how it is done and the potential hurdles to be aware of.

Not only that, but we’ll hear about the latest trends shaping global economics and insights into which emerging markets have big potential. Finding markets, developing a growth strategy and adapting to local economies are all difficult, and speakers including Kingfisher Group chief executive Ian Cheshire will shed some light on how to approach these challenges. Amazon UK managing director Chris North will also touch on how the internet is making it easier to branch out, discussing the global nature of ecommerce and how it could impact on retailers in years to come.

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