Store 2015 Review

Once again, the J.C. Williams Group team attended the Retail Council of Canada’s STORE 2015 Conference. With a record attendance including the who’s who of Canadian retail, this annual event was undoubtedly the most important retail conference in Canada this year. STORE 2015 provided once again an outstanding opportunity for retailers and vendors to meet and discuss pressing issues.

Group photo

Photo: (left to right) Neil Stern Senior Partner, McMillan/Doolittle, and Chairman of the Ebeltoft Group; John Williams, Senior Partner, J.C. Williams Group; Lisa Hutcheson, Senior Advisor, J.C. Williams Group; Andrew Siegwart, RCC; Diederik van Gelder, Founder, Bilder & De Clercq; Adam Saper, Managing Partner & CFO, Eataly

This year’s theme was appropriately dubbed ‘Disruption’. From my perspective, that was certainly the vibe felt throughout the conference. The following are a few key takeaways that have stuck with me.

1. Retail is facing major disruption
From bricks-to-clicks, the changing consumer, the impact of millennials, and disruptive new business models (e.g., Uber, Airbnb) were just a few of the issues abuzz amongst the delegates. Retailers are under more pressure than any other time in history to dramatically ‘shake things up’ within their organizations. That doesn’t mean ‘make some tweaks’; that means that radical transformation needs to happen. We have seen a line-up of retailers that have failed to reinvent and stay relevant, succumbing to extinction or announcing mass store closings so far this year – The Gap being one of them just announcing the closure of 175 stores. Retailers that fail to innovate and provide a meaningful offer are failing to meet customers’ expectations.

Neil stern photo

Neil Stern Senior Partner, McMillan/Doolittle, and Chairman of the Ebeltoft Group takes the main stage to talk about retail innovation

2. The physical store still has an important role
With the growth of online sales, many have pondered what that means for the physical store. However, as retailers and customers move to omnichannel, the physical space still has a role, albeit in different forms:

  • A place to showcase merchandise in a way that boldly delivers an experience
  • A social gathering place
  • A space for knowledge, learning, and information
  • A place of recreation, relaxation.

3. Innovation
Retail innovation is changing the retail landscape in many ways. J.C. Williams Group, in partnership with The Ebeltoft Group, has been tracking retail innovation for over a decade.

We have taken the many retailer examples and categorized their approach to innovation into seven trends:
1. Curated Collections
2. Customization
3. Experiential Retailing
4. Hyper Local
5. Online Offline Mashup
6. Retailvention
7. Technology Intervention.

For sixty examples of outstanding retail innovation from around the globe, download our Retail Innovations 10:

Diederik photo
Diederik van Gelder, Founder, Bilder & De Clercq, featured in RI10

Conferences are always stimulating and inspirational but when we get back to the office, often the daily work takes priority. BUT, those that continue with the status quo will quickly find themselves left behind. It’s mission critical to get your organization focused on innovation and transformation; it must become part of the culture.

Want to talk more about ‘Disruption’ and how your organization would like to innovate? Let’s connect.

Written by: Lisa Hutcheson, Senior Advisor, Innovation and Non-traditional Retail at J.C. Williams Group @_lisahutcheson


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