Get a little smarter at WIRED Smarter 2018

Retail Insider is pleased to be associated with Wired as a media partner of its forthcoming WIRED Smarter 2018 conference on October 9 and is looking forward to hearing a plethora of speakers that include some of the more progressive-thinkers around.

The 2018 event incorporates multiple streams comprising the three major verticals – retail, energy and money. From a retail perspective the programme is very exciting as a number of names on the agenda are playing a major part in redrawing the industry’s transforming landscape.

When selecting some of the highlights it is tough to look beyond Will Shu, founder of Deliveroo, who has created a major disruptor to the high street incumbents. It makes near-immediate delivery of food available to everybody and is shaking up the industry as a result.

Such has been its impact that it is hard for food companies to not offer home delivery today. And if they do not have their own fleet of scooter delivery guys then outsourcing it to Deliveroo is the most likely option. Shu will be discussing what it has taken to scale the business from handling deliveries himself on day one to today when it is a $2 billion business.

One organisation that knows all about scale is Amazon and underlying its incredible growth is its technology. Integral to keeping everything on the rails is Werner Vogels, CTO of Amazon, who oversees the most remarkable retail business. But Amazon rather surprisingly drives lots of its revenue from selling services that it originally built to support its underlying retail business. We are talking cloud computing, advertising and fulfilment services among other things.

Another technology powerhouse in the form of Facebook is also at WIRED Smarter 2018 with Martin Harbech, director of e-commerce and retail at Facebook, on the agenda to talk about the rise of social shopping.

There is no doubt that so-called conversational commerce – especially when it is aligned with AI (Artificial Intelligence) – is becoming extremely powerful and for the likes of Facebook potentially lucrative. It will be interesting to hear social platforms are evolving into environments that can in a frictionless way drive revenues for retailers and brand owners.

Businesses such as Amazon and Facebook have been helped in their development and growth phases by the technology and fund-raising eco-system of Silicon Valley on the West Coast of the US. One of the most respected venture capital players in this world is Andreesen Horowitz that has backed some of the most recognisable names today including Airbnb, Facebook, Instacart, Pinterest, Slack, and Skype.

With that quality pedigree the ‘Ten Year Futures’ themed presentation to be given by Benedict Evans, partner as Andreesen Horowitz, will be particularly interesting to hear. One of his themes will surely involve sustainability.

Getting big is still very much what it is all about for Silicon Valley and the venture capital industry that fuels its creativity. But growth now has to be done in a different way – with more than a nod to sustainability and doing the right thing socially. These themes have to run right through businesses today.

This is very much the message of Kresse Wesling, co-founder of Elvis & Kresse, which produces luxury goods from waste materials. She has recognised that the vast luxury goods and fashion industries need to take a more holistic view to their production methods. There is a growing argument that an increasing component of the definition of luxury goods will be their alignment with sustainable practices.

We will no doubt hear how Elvis & Kresse is producing a range of its own goods as well as working with a growing number of luxury goods companies including Burberry who are looking to learn about some of the practices that have been adopted by this relative newcomer to the industry.

WIRED Smarter 2018 takes place on October 9 at King’s Place, London. To learn more about the event click here.

Glynn Davis, editor of Retail Insider