Helen Dickinson OBE expert panel image.

British Retail Consortium’s Helen Dickinson Shares her Views on the Future of Retail

This article is part of Raydiant’s new Future of Retail series which interviews the world’s leading retail experts to better understand how the industry has evolved and most importantly, where’s it’s headed. 

The following is from a recent interview with Helen Dickinson OBE, Chief Executive of the British Retail Consortium.

  1. What personally excites you the most about the retail industry?

HD: Retail is one of the most innovative industries in the world, particularly with the accelerating integration of technology in stores and online. Personalised recommendations, easier payment methods, and a host of complementary services mean that the customer is getting a better deal than ever before. The current transformation in the industry may pose many challenges for firms, but it also makes it the most exciting time to be involved in this dynamic industry.

  1. What has been the most dramatic change you’ve seen in the industry over the past 3-5 years?

HD: There has been a growing awareness of the environmental impact that our retail decisions have. Consumers want to be part of the solution to climate change and this has opened up many opportunities for innovation by retailers. While some firms have capitalised on this as part of their unique offering to their customers, everyone is hurrying to ensure they play their part and reduce the carbon impact of their own operations.

  1. What are the top trends you see shaping brick and mortar retail in the next 3-5 years?

HD: Consumers are looking for more out of their shopping visits. Expect more experience-based retail trends, with events and services provided in store to tempt in the digital consumer. The rise in complementary services – from in-store repairs to coffee to beauty services – will continue throughout the 2020s, benefitting both the consumer and the innovative retailer alike.

  1. What technology do you believe will have the biggest impact on the retail industry in the next 3-5?

HD: There are many exciting technologies in their infancy in retail. 3D-printing allows consumers to get bespoke products while helping to remove the waste of excessive or unwanted stock. Predictive analysis, using innovative AI, could help all retailers estimate their demand before an item even hits the shelves. Drone delivery could get items to consumers quicker without the fleets of trucks that criss-cross our towns and cities. There is a lot to be excited about.

  1. What’s the future of brick and mortar retail? 

HD: Physical stores are transforming. High streets up and down the country are reinventing themselves – making themselves “places to be”. The public want more than a retail destination, they want a location to meet, to eat and drink, a place for services and experiences, as well as a shop.