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4 Takeaways From Ariel Haroush’s Fireside Chat


Since the turn of the millennium, the annual Seamless Middle East conference has brought together the most innovative minds to discuss the future of fintech, banking, digital payments, e-comm, retail, and beyond. The two-day global conference immerses attendees in the latest trends, developments, technologies, innovations, and disruptions shaping their industries with more than 300 speakers worldwide. The one-of-a-kind event is designed to build a deeper understanding of how these sectors are evolving and how they can collaborate for a greater impact.

On May 31st, Outform Group’s founder and president Ariel Haroush took part in an intimate fireside chat, “Bring Your Brand to Life With Brick and Clicks,” detailing his vision of the hybrid digital future (and present) of retail. Moderated by Kate Hardcastle, the UK’s ‘go-to’ consumer expert, the discussion drew attendees from across the spectrum of retail and technology to learn what OUTFORM and our clients have been up to and what Ariel sees on the horizon. Here are the four biggest takeaways:

1.   The role of brick-and-mortar spaces is changing

The pandemic dramatically accelerated several consumer behavior changes, especially in terms of how shoppers interact with brands and how they pay. Brick-and-mortar retail is not as competitive on a transactional scale as online, offering convenience and assortments to shoppers. Creating in-store strategies that revolve around events, community building, and unique experiences are integral to luring shoppers into physical retail spaces. Ariel envisions the future of most retail spaces to be more like the Bucherer flagship store in Manhattan — a destination space designed for community and events rather than just making purchases.

2.   Consumers want personalized experiences

During the pandemic, the massive boom in e-comm and omnichannel retail has enabled more data tracking than ever, allowing consumers to enjoy incredibly personalized brand experiences. A host of consumer data can be accessed by CP, retail, and hospitality companies to create personalized experiences. This indicates that it isn’t enough to apply a “one-size-fits-all” approach–companies must leverage data to figure out what consumers want and when they want it.

Retailers can provide similar interactions in stores with touchless button displays that allow online shoppers to build their own experience. This modern-day innovation gives shoppers the freedom to select choices in a safe environment by simply using motion-capture technology.

3.   The physical and digital are merging

Digital data is incredibly easy to gather through cookies, opt-ins, and other means, but bringing the same insight to physical and in-store experiences has remained elusive. Fortunately, that’s changing. The only way to bring the convenience of online experiences into brick-and-mortar retail is through what we call the “digital handshake.”

Creatively leveraging technology like QR codes and RFID chips allows retailers to create digital trails for physical products. This incentivizes brands to create in-store experiences and track engagement to gain as much insight as with an online experience (or more). Other brands, like Nespresso, now require customers to use their app to make in-store purchases, enabling deeper engagement between consumers and the brand.

4.   Into the metaverse

Consumers making purchases in retail stores in the metaverse is possible and likely, given the rapid advancements in technology and the growing comfort customers have with online shopping. Some cosmetic brands are entering the space early and creating products focused on customizing avatars.

The metaverse also makes it possible for retailers to offer full brick-and-mortar experiences digitally without the investment in a physical space. And the proliferation of VR allows consumers to live in these spaces. Ariel expects digital immersion to become so normalized that the trend of tracking screen time will reverse to count time in the real world.

Delivering his insights in Dubai was especially serendipitous given the incredible innovation at the city’s heart. Fifty years ago, it didn’t exist, and now it’s one of the most advanced metropolitan areas in the world. Ariel is taking just as much away from his time at Seamless as he brought to the event.

Let’s shape the future of retail together, book a meeting HERE.





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