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RBTE 2018: Technology Takeaways

  • 8th May 2018

Written by Retail Assist


RBTE 2018, taking place last week at Olympia London, offered a packed-out agenda with the latest retail technology on the Show floor, and industry insights shared across 4 conference theatres. Here are our RBTE 2018 video highlights! Katie Anderson reports in our top technology round up vlog from the Show.

 RBTE 2018 video highlights

You can view the video on our YouTube channel here.

What else did we see at RBTE 2018?

Pepper: Robots and CX


If you’ve attended a technology conference in the last year, chances are that you will have met this little guy before.

Pepper the Robot, representing the possibility of robotics in retail stores, has the potential to enhance several areas of the customer experience, becoming an alternative to an information kiosk/or tablet, offering a walking/talking service.

It can show you where to find a product, “read” your facial expressions and interact accordingly, and even recommend products based on the clothes you wear. For all the buzz, we’re yet to remain convinced that robots will replace humans in-store entirely, especially in the fashion retail sector. Human-human interaction and expert product recommendations have a place in fashion that cannot be replicated in a truly sophisticated manner by robotics – for now anyway!

Robots’ potential for enhancing the customer experience comes hand in hand with a human – a middle bot. For example, going to retrieve a product for the fitting room or check stock levels, whilst the sales associate interacts with the customer.

ASOS: the story of retail success

We were privileged to attend a keynote conference session at RBTE 2018 with Brian McBride, Chairman of ASOS. His session on ‘Evolve or Die’ involved fascinating insights on ASOS’ success, as well as lessons for all retailers to learn this year.

Being online-only gives a competitive advantage to ASOS: they are able to know a lot more than their high street competitors, thanks to the huge amount of data their customers share with them. The challenge that high street retailers face is that the only data they usually collect is the bank the customer made the transaction with, unless they are making an omnichannel order requiring more detail.

McBride went on to explain that machine learning and AI has helped ASOS to offer some of the best personalisation available. Since most ASOS customers are millennials – or better, Gen Z – they’ve been quick to adapt and have made extensive use of new features like visual search.

ASOS the unstoppable vs the Amazon Effect

Brian McBride spoke volumes on the ‘adapt or die’ school of thought dominating the retail technology agenda. Continual adaptation has allowed only the best brands to survive (referencing Darwinian survival of the fittest).

Continuing to disrupt, ASOS does not currently feel threatened by competitors, in the same way that other brands should have been threatened by ASOS before they were a giant.

Despite the fact that Amazon is a larger fashion retailer than ASOS internationally, McBride confirmed that ASOS does not view them as a threat. This is because they operate in two completely different ways: Amazon users go to their website when they already know what they want, whereas ASOS users come there to find the next fashion trend.

This is the key point of difference that all fashion retailers should capitalise on – that in offering a personalised experience with expert product information, trend assistance, and great CX, the Amazon-effect should be kept at bay.

  • 8th May 2018

Written by Retail Assist

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