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Retail Innovation


RBTE Innovation Theatre Day 1: The Customer Is King

There was little standing room left as Nick Wheeler, founder and owner of Charles Tyrwhitt opened The Retail Innovation Theatre at RBTE 2014 yesterday.

Retail Innovation

Retail Innovation

Sharing his perspectives on retail innovation and the reasons behind the success of his business, the packed theatre heard the secrets behind the growth of Charles Tyrwhitt from humble beginnings as a mail-order shirt business in 1986 to a multichannel retailer with over 22 bricks and mortar stores worldwide and growing fast.

A strict focus on the customer and the use of innovation such as Feefo’s rating and review technology to enable a greater customer experience was the overriding piece of advice from the UK businessman.

Reinventing Physical Retail

The first session of the day was hosted by Kash Ghedia, Technologies Manager at Dixons Retail and addressed the reinvention of physical retail.

Highlighting recent research by Eccomplished, BoscaBox kicked off the innovator presentations discussing how retailers, with the right platform, can make better use of in-store digital media to enrich the in-store experience.

MarketHub followed, outlining how pricing intelligence at the shelf edge offers a way for retailers to reduce the need to discount, sell more, whilst driving up profitability.

The poor adoption and provision of in-store WiFi by modern retail was highlighted by Wittos as a big opportunity for retailers to meet the in-store requirements of today’s omnichannel, mobile-engaged customer.

HiperKinetic showed us how retailers can bring big data intelligence into physical world, understanding the customer path to purchase. PMC discussed uniting bricks and clicks by bringing the online experience in-store.

Customer Centric Commerce

Ometria kicked off the second Innovation Theatre session with an entertaining and interactive demonstration of how they can help retailers gain greater online customer insight for better ecommerce decisions, ensuring they sell the right products and driving online profitability.

The value of guided selling in driving conversion and customer loyalty, both online and in-store was addressed by SMARTASSISTANT, whilst Feefo discussed the power of consumer reviews for maximising customer lifetime value.

Atosho discussed how their distributed ecommerce platform can help consumers shop at the point at which demand is created and FrockAdvisor talked about how independent fashion retailers can help their customers find fashion in an omnichannel world.

Customer Experience Transformed

Brian Towshend, a retail consultant currently working with Marks & Spencer hosted our third and final session on the transformation of customer experience in front of another packed house.

Mobile experts Donky kicked off with a demonstration of how in-app messaging can transform customer experience, drive acquisition, retention and satisfaction. Then, image recognition innovator Style-Eyes showed how to help consumers find products they like from hundreds of retailers simply by taking a picture via their mobile phone.

Qudini addressed the challenge of customer service in-store and how creating an efficient in-store customer experience can have a significant impact on customer loyalty and ultimately, sales.

TalkDesk shared their eight lessons learned from one million support calls and how every customer who calls in to a retailer must be treated like a VIP.

Finally, ITAB talked about the reinvention of the checkout and how with the right technology, retailers can redeploy shop floor staff to more customer experience defining tasks.

Day 2: Thinking Outside The Box

Day two of the Retail Innovation Theatre at RBTE 2014 started much in the same vein as day one. Packed sessions, innovative technologies and fresh insights into some of retail’s most pressing priorities and challenges.

If day one was all about the customer, then day two was about thinking outside the box. In particular:

  • The technologies shaping the future of retail
  • The need to start addressing ‘the last mile’
  • The opportunity outside domestic markets

Tomorrow’s Retail World

The first session of the day was hosted by Eccomplished CEO Stephen Millard and showcased five innovators bringing to market technology that whilst may seem aspirational today, is fast becoming commonplace.

Sparkle cs was up first, with their ‘app store for the EPOS’ – taking away the headache, expense, implementation time and risk associated with making changes to the EPOS and making it as easy to update, experiment and adapt as your ecommerce site.

IS2you followed with the Wi-go – a next generation shopping trolley that intelligently follows the customer around the store. The Wi-go transforms the in-store experience, especially for customers with restricted mobility such as wheelchair users and the elderly, or simply for those with their hands full such as parents with young children.

Augmented reality was on display from the team at Sayduck, who amazed the audience with their demonstration of how retailers can enjoy 27% uplift in basket value by providing customers with the ability to bring products to life via their mobiles and tablets from the comfort of their own home.

Vee24 demonstrated that whilst physical retailers are trying to bring digital in-store, their video-based customer service technology brings the face-to-face in-store customer experience to the online world, increasing average order values by up to 35%.

The session concluded with distributed ecommerce provider Kiosked, who introduced the concept of ‘everywhere commerce’ and how they extend retail across the online world.

Delivering The Promise

Claire Muir, Head of Development for Amethyst Group hosted the second session of the day highlighting that with so much emphasis on the front end of the customer experience, what about the ‘last mile’ – arguably the most important part of the customer journey – the point at which a customer receives and is happy with their product?

Storpal kicked off with their platform for simplifying the retail supply chain for greater customer experience, choice and fulfilment options.

Cloud-based delivery management platform provider Scurri then took to the stage and talked about how retailers can simplify the delivery process and take more control of the customer delivery experience.

Clear Returns concluded the session by outlining that it’s not what a customer buys that is important, but what they keep and how their predictive analytics technology helps ecommerce retailers grow keeps and grow profits.

Unlocking International Markets

The final session of this year’s Retail Innovation Theatre was introduced by M&M Direct CIO, Graham Benson and addressed the challenges of growing overseas business, both from an online and physical retail perspective.

EpiServer were first up, demonstrating how their platform can help overcome the various challenges faced by growing retail business overseas from content localisation to legal, financial and logistical considerations.

Intelligent Reach outlined the various online channels that retailers can use to extend their reach into international markets and how with their platform, you can launch, monitor and analyse cross border campaigns across multiple channels.

The challenges of international payments were addressed by Pensio who talked about the complexity in understanding and being able to transact across different territories.

The last innovator of the series was Concrete, who discussed their solution for helping retailers get visibility and control over a large network of international physical stores and how to work effectively with the in-region people that run them, driving sales and brand compliance.


This year’s Retail Innovation Theatre at RBTE 2014 was a big success and Eccomplished would like to thank everyone who made it possible – Nick Wheeler, of Charles Tyrwhitt, all of our session hosts, the teams at RBTE and Essential Retail, Simon our technician and most importantly the 27 innovators, without whom, there would have been no innovation!

See you at the London Olympia next year!


Robinhood plans confidential IPO filing as soon as March – Bloomberg News



Robinhood plans confidential IPO filing as soon as March - Bloomberg News 4

(Reuters) – Online brokerage Robinhood, at the centre of this year’s retail trading frenzy, is planning to file confidentially for an initial public offering as soon as March, Bloomberg News reported late on Friday, citing sources.

The California-based brokerage has held talks in the past week with underwriters about moving forward with a filing within weeks, Bloomberg said.

Robinhood did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Reuters reported last year that Robinhood has picked Goldman Sachs Group Inc to lead preparations for an initial public offering which could value it at more than $20 billion.

Robinhood was at the heart of a mania that gripped retail investors in late January following calls on Reddit thread WallStreetBets to trade certain stocks that were being heavily shorted by hedge funds.

The online brokerage tapped around $3.4 billion in funding after its finances were strained due to the massive trading in shares of companies such as GameStop Corp.

(Reporting by Ann Maria Shibu in Bengaluru; editing by Richard Pullin)

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Analysis: How idled car factories super-charged a push for U.S. chip subsidies



Analysis: How idled car factories super-charged a push for U.S. chip subsidies 5

By Stephen Nellis

(Reuters) – When President Joe Biden on Wednesday stood at a lectern holding a microchip and pledged to support $37 billion in federal subsidies for American semiconductor manufacturing, it marked a political breakthrough that happened much more quickly than industry insiders had expected.

For years, chip industry executives and U.S. government officials have been concerned about the slow drift of costly chip factories to Taiwan and Korea. While major American companies such as Qualcomm Inc and Nvidia Corp dominate their fields, they depend on factories abroad to build the chips they design.

As tensions with China heated up last year, U.S. lawmakers authorized manufacturing subsidies as part of an annual military spending bill due to concerns that depending on foreign factories for advanced chips posed national security risks. Yet funding for the subsidies was not guaranteed.

Then came the auto-chip crunch. Ford Motor Co said a lack of chips could slash a fifth of its first-quarter production and General Motors Co cut output across North America.

“It brings home very clearly the message that the semiconductor is really a critical component in a lot of the end products we take for granted,” said Mike Rosa, head of strategic and technical marketing for a group within semiconductor manufacturing toolmaker Applied Materials Inc that sells tools to automotive chip factories.

Within weeks, automakers joined chip companies calling for chip factory subsidies, and U.S. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and President Biden both pledged to fight for funding.

Industry backers now aim to be part of a package of legislation to counter China that Schumer hopes to bring to the Senate floor this spring. Still, all agree it will do little to solve the immediate auto-chip problem.

Headlines about idled car plants resonated with the public that had shrugged off abstract warnings in the past, said Jim Lewis, a senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. Lawmakers, already worried that a promised infrastructure bill will not materialize this year, decided to push for quick solution.

“Nobody wants to be seen as soft on China. No one wants to tell the Ford workers in their district, ‘Sorry, can’t help,'” Lewis said. “It was one of those moments where everything aligned.”

The package includes matching funds for state and local chip-plant subsidies, a provision likely to heat up competition among states including Texas and Arizona to host big new chip plants that can cost as much as $20 billion.

The subsidies could benefit a factory in Arizona proposed by Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co and one in Texas eyed by Samsung Electronics Co Ltd, even though those factories would be geared toward high-end chips for smartphones and laptops, rather than simpler auto chips. And those factories would not come on line until 2023 or 2024, according to plans disclosed by the companies, the world’s two largest chip manufacturers.

In the longer term, a raft of U.S. companies are also poised to benefit. Any chipmakers that build factories will source many tools from American companies such as Applied, Lam Research Corp and KLA Corp.

Intel Corp, Micron Technology Inc and GlobalFoundries – which already have U.S. factory networks – will also likely benefit.

Smaller, specialty chip factories also could benefit.

“The recent chip shortage in the automotive industry has highlighted the need to strengthen the microelectronics supply chain in the U.S.,” said Thomas Sonderman, chief executive of SkyWater Technology, a Minnesota-based chipmaker that makes automotive and defense chips. “We believe that SkyWater is uniquely positioned due to our differentiated business model and status as a U.S.- owned and U.S.- operated pure play semiconductor contract manufacturer.”

Even with subsidies, the U.S. companies still must compete with low-cost Asian vendors over the long run, and the immediate auto chip troubles will probably persist.

Surya Iyer, a vice president at Minnesota-based Polar Semiconductor, which makes chips for automakers, said his factory is booked beyond capacity and has started to speed some orders up while slowing others down, to meet automakers’ needs as best it can.

“We are expecting this level of demand to continue at least for the next 12 months, maybe even longer,” he said.

(This story has been refiled to add attribution to quote in paragraph 9, add dropped words in paragraphs 10 and 17)

(Reporting by Stephen Nellis and Hyunjoo Jin in San Francisco and Alexandra Alper in Washington. Editing by Jonathan Weber and David Gregorio)

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Atlantia disappointed with CDP bid for unit, continues talks



Atlantia disappointed with CDP bid for unit, continues talks 6

By Francesca Landini and Stephen Jewkes

MILAN (Reuters) – Italy’s Atlantia said on Friday an offer by a consortium of investors led by state lender CDP for its 88% stake in Autostrade per l’Italia fell short of the mark and asked its top managers to see if the bid could be sweetened.

“The offer falls below expectations,” the Italian infrastructure group said in a statement, adding it had mandated the chief executive and the chairman to assess “the potential for the necessary substantial improvements” to the bid.

Italian state lender CDP, together with co-investors Macquarie and Blackstone, has presented a proposal valuing all of Autostrade per l’Italia at 9.1 billion euros ($11 billion).

The consortium also requested Atlantia guarantee up to 700 million euros in potential damage claims and another roughly 800 million euros for a pending legal case, making the bid less attractive than previously expected.

One source said the consortium estimated overall pending legal claims against Autostrade at 3 billion to 4 billion euros, adding the 700 million euro cap did not mean the amount would be detracted from the offer price from the start.

Earlier on Friday Atlantia’s minority investors TCI and Spinecap had called on Atlantia’s board to reject the offer, saying it undervalued the asset.

“No deal is better than a bad deal, especially a bad deal and a wrong price,” TCI Advisory Services partner Jonathan Amouyal said in a emailed comment to Reuters.

TCI, which holds an indirect stake of around 10% in Atlantia, repeated that the value for 100% of Autostrade should be no less than 12.5 billion euros.

The board will hold a further meeting in order to take a final decision on the offer in due time, Atlantia said.

The negotiations between Atlantia and the CDP-led consortium are part of an effort to end a political dispute over Autostrade’s motorway concession triggered by the collapse of a motorway bridge run by the unit.

(GRAPHIC – Atlantia share performance:

The bid expires on March 16, but the deadline could be extended in case Atlantia calls an extraordinary shareholders meeting (EGM) on the issue, according to one source with knowledge of the matter.

Shares in the group ended down 0,7%, after recovering some losses, as investors waited for the decision of the board.

Atlantia, which is controlled by the Benetton family, owns 88% of Autostrade, with Germany’s Allianz and funds DIF, EDF Invest and China’s Silk Road Fund holding the rest.

The group also kept open an alternative plan to demerge and sell its stake in Autostrade per l’Italia unit and called an EGM on March 29 to extend to end-July a deadline for offers for the demerged stake.

(Additional reporting by Stefano Bernabei, editing by Louise Heavens and Steve Orlofsky)

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