Press release

16 May 2019 Amsterdam, NL

Retailers need to collaborate to create value for customers, World Retail Congress hack sessions reveal

AMSTERDAM, 16 MAY 2019. EY, Hackmasters and the World Retail Congress are helping retailers to anticipate tomorrow’s consumer needs and to build a transformation road map that will help them take action and be competitive.

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  • Senior executives from 12 global retailers participate in World Retail Congress hack sessions in Amsterdam
  • Participants challenged to collaborate to capture the omnipresent customer by rethinking service profitability

EY, Hackmasters and the World Retail Congress are helping retailers to anticipate tomorrow’s consumer needs and to build a transformation road map that will help them take action and be competitive.

Through two days of hack sessions at the World Retail Congress in Amsterdam this week, senior executives are immersed in a unique environment that encourages them to challenge their assumptions and place themselves in future world scenarios in order to develop fresh thinking around what the future retailer will look like. Through intense discussions with futurists and industry professionals, hack participants explored the question: “What kind of retailer will you become?”

Interestingly, a risk-averse culture and limited capacity to scale up quickly were identified as the key barriers to implementing change to stay relevant to customers. Additionally, retailers with hundreds or thousands of physical stores were highlighted as being constrained by the burden of legacy infrastructure and culture, making it harder for them to make quick decisions and be agile in the market. Yet, in this changing landscape, retailers remain positive. The recent EY Global Capital Confidence Barometer, a biannual survey of more than 2,900 executives across 47 countries, showed an overwhelming majority (94%) of retail executives are confident about the outlook and believe that conditions are improving, rather than declining.

Andrew Cosgrove, EY Global Consumer Lead Analyst, says: 

“While retailers are optimistic, the gap between good and great has never been wider. Leading companies don’t just create new value for themselves, they create new value for their customers. They don’t just choose their partners, they are the right partners. They don’t try to please everyone, they delight their tribes. All retailers recognize the need to change, but few are truly willing to challenge their legacy.”

By understanding how and where they create value in the business, hack participants identify opportunities to collaborate with other retailers for mutual benefit — for instance, to face the last-mile challenge and deliver goods more efficiently, or to share data to create a holistic view of the customer. 

Hack participants recognize the importance of concurrently building and testing new operating models while optimizing the returns on their existing business. In other words, maximize the benefits of their existing business models to fund transformation — build on current capabilities and identify new opportunities to drive business models.

 Ian McGarrigle, World Retail Congress Founder and Chairman, says: 

“The global retail landscape is in a state of evolution and retailers must adapt and innovate as a matter of survival. We’ve seen significant disruption in recent years, but rapidly changing consumer demands and expectations mean that we have far more disruption to come. It’s exciting to have such an impressive collection of world-class retailers in one place at the World Retail Congress to tackle the industry’s most pressing challenges.”
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