At the end of March, we saw the best in-class from the world of retail come together for Retail Week Live, a two-day conference in London that provides a platform for the most important and topical narratives in the retail space to be discussed.

From ChatGPT to the circular economy, experts in the field came together to share their insights into where the future of the retail industry is heading and what retailers can do to keep up. With a wide variety of important topics discussed, we’ve highlighted a few of our favourites!

  • Circularity is here to stay – Retail Week Live highlighted the importance of businesses embracing circular business models, with increasing numbers of consumers willing and having the desire to shop second-hand. Aside from the significant environmental benefits that buying and selling pre-loved products delivers, it also gives customers optionality. By offering cheaper pricing models, brands can show that they can be flexible around consumer needs at a time when many are feeling the pressure. The discussions at Retail Week Live showcased how these changes are being made across a wide variety of industries, for example, Decathlon’s Second Life initiative allows customers to purchase refurbished goods at discounted prices. This is encouraging their customers to shop more responsibly, whilst also helping them to access top-tier items without the need for larger, one-off big-ticket purchases. We’re pleased that we’re already taking this approach, with our Long Live Your Tech initiative that now gives customers the option to buy refurbished tech, opening up the same great tech at lower-than-ever price points, all while supporting our mission of giving tech a longer life.

  • This forms part of a wider move away from ‘fast’ consumption – Grace Beverley, Founder and CEO of the sustainable activewear brand TALA, gave an insightful talk on how retailers need to continue to have conversations around overconsumption. She admitted that even ‘sustainable consumption’, as a concept, is ‘entirely oxymoronic’ and that the focus for environmentally minded retailers needs to be on encouraging consumers to buy higher-quality, longer-life items which by default helps to guard against overconsumption. Another advocate of this was John Wood, the CEO of British fashion retailer AllSaints, who shared how they’re partnering with ethical manufacturers to ensure high quality products that last the test of time. At Currys, we strive to equip customers with essential information necessary for making informed purchasing decisions. We go the extra mile by providing comprehensive details on energy-efficiency ratings and energy saving calculations to encourage them to opt for products that consume less energy. But we don’t stop there, whether it’s in the form of our refurbished tech range or our variety of repair services, including our award-winning Repair Live initiative, our customers have the option to repair and re-use, rather than replace.

  • As well as environmental action, the next generation demands personalisation and flexibility – at Currys, over the last few years we’ve been on an incredible omnichannel journey, ensuring our customers receive a seamless and enjoyable shopping experience both online and instore. But we know we can’t stand still, the next generation of consumers want personalisation and flexibility, something that was discussed frequently at Retail Week Live. Leading Tech and IT experts from Wilko, UST and ISG shared how retailers are beginning to leverage new and emerging technologies, such as ChatGPT, to create unique shopping experiences for their customers. But retailers must heed the advice of many of the younger panellists across Retail Week Live, who were adamant about expecting the same level of personalisation in store as they get online. For omnichannel retailers, tech adoption must be consistent across all channels, otherwise they risk creating a disjointed experience that certainly doesn’t appeal to a younger generation that is calling for consistent personalisation.

Retail Week Live provided valuable insights on current retail trends and challenges, providing a platform to experts on sustainability, technology, and consumer behaviour. They emphasised the importance of staying in touch with consumers, the need to embrace a circular economy to succeed in the long term and continuing to move with the times.

Our Senior HRBP Corporate Functions, Judy Andrews, joined some of the Currys team at the conference and shared her thoughts.

“From Grace Beverley’s take on how we reduce overconsumption to Seb James’ views on Boots beating the competition, it was an inspiring day with valuable insights from all generations. To find out more about emerging technology opportunities was really interesting.”

Judy Andrews Senior HRBP Corporate Functions

Retail Week Live provided an excellent opportunity for industry leaders to collaborate and learn from one another, and to drive the future of retail; it’s a source of great inspiration and we have much to look forward to!