This article was written by Booodl’s founder and CEO & founder, George Freney.

Mumbrella’s annual Retail Marketing Summit brings together the country’s leading retail and FMCG brand owners and experts, providing an opportunity to discuss issues impacting the industry, share key insights, and network with industry leaders. This year, I was invited to take part as a speaker, focusing on the effects Amazon and its associated offerings are likely to have on the Australian retail industry.

More on that later. First, I’d like to take a look at a couple of key points raised by other speakers at the summit, which underline the importance of online visibility, well organised data and data and location-centric search.

Facebook Works

Hosted by Facebook’s Head of Retail Kate Box, alongside Col Kennedy (Head of Marketing, Country Road) and John Sette (Group Marketing Manager, Kathmandu) this session highlighted Facebook’s ability to target messages to location-specific customer segments, thus driving in-store sales.

Although the system is not yet perfect, its functionality is good news for the retail industry. Kathmandu and Country Road are already doing a great job of leveraging it, and using offline event tracking to attribute Facebook activity to instore purchase.

Predicting the future with data and Artificial Intelligence

Dr Tiberio Caetano (Chief Scientist, Ambiata) chaired an excellent presentation on the topics of data and Artificial Intelligence.

Some particularly interesting points raised included the ways in which the era of test and learn is quickly becoming one of hypothesis, predicted outcome and implementation.  With properly organised data and a Machine that Learns (Machine Learning), ideas can be run through machines to measure their impact before they are implemented. Of course, this doesn’t do away with the need for good ideas, but rather allows you to test whether or not they will be successful prior to execution.

Interestingly, it was predicted that within three years all businesses involved in retail will be using Machine Learning in some way. Those that aren’t? Well, they probably won’t exist.

Amazon – Brace for impact

Discussing the very real threat of Amazon on the Australian retail landscape, I had the pleasure of being on the panel with Nhung Mason (ANZ Products Lead for Management Consulting, Accenture), Stephen Kulmar (CEO, Retail Oasis) and Clare Muscatt (Head of Customer Experience Design, Sainsburys).

Set to launch the Australian arm of their business in the fourth quarter of 2017, Amazon is predicted to capture around $4B of the General Merchandise market. Currently, awareness of the Amazon ‘Echo System’ is low amongst both retailers and consumers, but it is crucial that we gain an understanding of how powerful Amazon Prime, Echo and Alexa are, and their ability to capture a significant share of wallet. 

The Alexa voice search system is now present in 8% of US households, and, because it directs purchases to Amazon wherever possible, Amazon’s wallet share within these households has increased by 10%.

Of course, there are ways to stay ahead of Alexa. Retailers need to leverage the unique advantages their stores and people provide, but to do this successfully, they must take advantage of technology and make sure data is well organised. Amazon is steamrolling ahead with its plans for global domination, so now is the time to take steps and ensure it doesn’t flatten you in its path.

Interested in the next phase or retail tech? Check out more on Store Discovery Optimisation.