Paul Wilkinson, head of technology research, Tesco Labs

Retail Insider was proud to launch the ‘Digital Retail Innovations Report 2018’ (sponsored by Webloyalty) with a special guest speaker Paul Wilkinson of Tesco Labs who highlighted some of the areas technology will likely have a significant impact on the retail sector.

Guests from leading retailers and members of the report’s Advisory Panel gathered at The Parcel Yard in London’s King’s Cross to get a first sighting of the report and hear Wilkinson talk about how Tesco Labs is very much kept close to the core business (on the same head office campus) and not operated out of a separate location.

This is because he suggests introducing new technologies into large organisations is as much about communicating the potential solution to colleagues as it is about the actual technology. Alongside a deep understanding of the business and the opportunities around, timing is also crucial – in terms of it being adopted by customers.

Although the Labs team are constantly on the hunt for new technology – and work on many ongoing development projects – Wilkinson says there are only a small number that ultimately make it into the hands of lots of customers. He compared it to the success rate of a venture capital firm with a small percentage of very successful investments that pay for the rest.

During the past couple of years the successes have included an app for colleagues that gives real-time access to stock in their own store and other units nearby and an app on IFTTT.com that lets customers add products to their basket in lots of different ways including using their voice on Google Home.

For Wilkinson the exciting areas in retail right now are the connected home – that links people’s consumption with their buying actions – whereby it can help the individual to make the actual purchases. The move towards frictionless shopping in physical stores is also an area of great excitement and opportunity.

Georgina Young, head brewer, Fuller’s

The evening concluded with a tutored beer tasting by Georgina Young, head brewer at Fuller’s, who ran through six beers from the London-based brewery, which was matched to food from the kitchens of The Parcel Yard. Jonathon Swaine, MD of Inns for Fuller’s, also provided some interesting insights on The Parcel Yard.

Retail Insider would like to thank Webloyalty for its sponsorship of the report and for making the launch evening possible. Additional thanks to Bamboo Rose for sponsoring the drinks and much appreciation to Paul Wilkinson for contributing his insights.

Glynn Davis, editor, Retail Insider