Lion stressed the importance of innovation in retail and explored the future of retail technology in a wide-ranging presentation to delegates at the recent ILG Study Tour in New York.

Co-presenter Richard Matthews, Key Account Manager at Lion, told delegates that neglecting innovation can put a business at the risk of perishing.

“If you look at some of the most successful companies around – like Google and Apple – they really understand the market they’re playing in, they have the imagination and they empower their people to come up with ‘pie in the sky’ ideas,” Matthews said.

“With us in the liquor industry, we’ve got to innovate but also follow as well, so if you see something good out there in the wider market, take it up and try to improve on it.”

Lion’s Hayden Shepherd presented some of the more exciting retail innovations from beyond the world of liquor, including tech-enabled shopping technologies such as ‘Selfycart’ – which allows customers to scan and purchase items using their smartphone, skipping the checkout – and preselected automated purchasing trialed at Tesco in the UK, technology with which a shopper preselects weekly items that are then automatically purchased when they’re on sale.

Other examples included a Twitter price-drop campaign run by LIDL UK that combined social media engagement with discounts for customers, and a partnership between Coca-Cola and Google that personally emails shoppers a special deal when they walk past the display.

Perhaps more easily applicable to the retail liquor environment were the examples of video-enabled shelf stripping – “fantastic for NPD launches and really interrupting the shopper” – and digital wine-pairing displays, which feature an iPad on the shelving display so the consumer can match the style of wine they’re looking at buying with a range of food options.

“There’s a lot of opportunities there, especially in ‘independent land’, to adapt some of these technologies to your environment with the support of suppliers,” Matthews said.

With the rise of internet shopping, Matthews also shared some interesting data on the reasons why shoppers still choose to visit a ‘bricks and mortar’ store today.

“Overwhelmingly all the research we have done, and the updates we get every month, proves that convenience is still king,” continued Matthews. “So it’s very important that we don’t forget that, and it’s even higher in independents – 79 percent naming convenience as the most important factor, a figure that rises to 84 percent for independents.”

Other reasons included value for money, range, an attractive store environment, and knowledgeable and friendly service from staff.

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