Transforming Retail Awards: Q&A with Gavin Matthews, partner at awards sponsor Womble Bond Dickinson

1. What attracted you and Womble Bond Dickinson to being involved with these Awards?

We were attracted to the Retail Insider Awards because we believe that a vibrant retail industry is crucial to the country’s economic success and these awards recognise the best companies, big, medium and small which are revolutionising the way the industry develops.

2. How important is it to have such industry awards?

It is always important to have industry awards to recognise success, but it is even more important to hold them this year to highlight that no matter what problems the industry is forced to deal with, it will always respond with innovation and creativity to continue to connect with customers.

Gavin Matthews of Womble Bond Dickinson

3. What areas of retail do you think are being transformed the most?

We believe there are many areas of retail which are being transformed at pace at the current time. They include sustainability, delivery and the role of the bricks and mortar store. The thing that links them all together is the increasing understanding that retailers have of harnessing the power of customer data to give their customers what they want, how they want it, and when they want it.

4. How is Covid-19 affecting things within retail?

There is no doubt that the pandemic has changed the way that people shop. It is an obvious point that it has driven customers online and the big question will be how many of those new customers will continue to purchase online once the pandemic is over.  We carried out a survey last year in association with Retail Economics which predicted that by 2028 over 50% of retail sales would be online.  It may be that Coronavirus has even accelerated this prediction. 

5. Any predictions for the way retail in general and technology is going?

Retail will continue to find new and innovative ways to connect with their customers.  Artificial Intelligence, augmented reality, virtual reality and the internet of things will all be vital.  However, the most effective technology will be that which gives customers what they want in a way that they can trust – particularly in the use of their personal data.