Leave tech at the door

In the latest Monocle Magazine – April 2018 edition, I was asked by Matt Alagaih what my thoughts were on the recent and upcoming tech craze.

For many, shiny tech seems to offer salvation. So it was at the National Retail Federation’s Big Show in New York this January: whether augmented-reality mirrors or QR code scanners, gadgets and gizmos promised more enticing shopping spaces. Karl McKeever, founder and managing director of retail consultancy Visual Thinking, is not so taken with the tech. “Too often the starting point is not a requirement to solve a clearly defined shopper need but the selfish want of retailers to be seen as being on-trend and staying in step with competitors.”

The main thing technology affords is convenience but e-commerce players already have that in spades. Offline players have to compete on different metrics: beautiful interiors (not blighted by AR mirrors), enjoyable live events and ever-changing product ranges and layouts.

By all means offer free home delivery once your customers have tried clothes on but don’t let it define your space. As McKeever puts it, opt for “emotional intelligence rather than the headline-hogging artificial kind”.