Vogue Business and IBM: The Commerce Revolution

An afternoon of thought-provoking debate and discussion around evolving consumer behaviour, emerging technologies influencing the retail landscape, and the future of hybrid retail.

Covid-19 has been a catalyst for change within the retail sector. Brands have been forced to transform their operations and reimagine the consumer experience with a heavy focus on embracing digital due to supply-chain disruptions, store closures, and dramatic shifts in consumer behaviour.

Springboard’s Marketing & Insights Director, Diane Wehrle, joined the first panel discussion of the day, hosted by Kate Bassett, Lead Editor at Vogue Business to talk about a modern hybrid retail approach which is being defined by consumers evolving needs and behaviours. Joined by Ian Earnshaw, Global Commercial Director at Mulberry, and Victoria Prew, Founder and CEO of HURR Collective, Diane discussed how footfall trends have changed throughout 2020 and 2021, shedding light on the decline in footfall that stores have witnessed, explaining that store sales had already dropped from 2018 to 2019 — before the pandemic. Going forward, hesitant tourism and hybrid working models mean that footfall at the end of 2022 could still be 10% lower than pre-pandemic times. However, some categories have bounced back much faster, with luxury jewellery doing particularly well. With shoppers unwilling to drop large sums on products they’ve only seen online, the return to stores has seen jewellery sales leap by 14.5%. Diane went on to further highlight the impact which the pandemic has had on retail destinations and the shopping experience as a whole with consumers adopting a more hybrid approach.

Key themes and areas for debate revolved around the opportunities and challenges which lie ahead for retailers, how consumers are spending, which technologies are leading the way, and what business models and engagement strategies retailers should be adopting. Kate also led conversations around sustainability, how the Metaverse is featuring greatly within retail strategy, social commerce and the hybrid approach to retail.

Kate closed the afternoon with an interview with the former CEO of ASOS, Nick Beighton, who shared his lessons and learnings in growing a global online based retail brand.