Retailhub is ready to kick off. The new knowledge lab in the Stadsfeestzaal, Antwerp, is open and welcomes the retail community with open arms. Retailhub is more than ever there to help you act and think. Yes, in that order, emphasises founder Jorg Snoeck.
For you, September is the month of coming back and coming out - tell us!
J.S.: "This month, we are moving from 80 per cent digital back to 80 per cent live. We are making a big splash with a series of special events, and we are launching our 'act and think' knowledge lab Retailhub at our new location in the Antwerp Stadsfeestzaal. I will tell you more about Retailhub in a moment, but first, I would like to say how happy I am that all RetailDetail events can take place at our new venue.
These include Captains of Retail, Dubai Day, RetailDetail Day, and the Trade & Shopper Marketing Congress in September alone. With 200 participants, the RetailDetail events bring more than 2,000 people to the Stadsfeestzaal. Not to mention the third-party events and the inspiration tours.
We finally seem to be returning to normal life. Although it will be a 'new normal'. Many things will not be the same as before: consumers have adopted new habits, and, especially in the field of digitalisation, we have been catapulted years into the future within just a few months. Beware: the trends we see now are not new. They were all coming, but the moment of a crisis created the perfect mix for everything to come together.
That is why it is so important to really bring the retail community together again, meet each other again, and find new energy and inspiration after this eventful year. We have been eager to welcome people for a year and a half, and now it is finally here. It was heartbreaking to see the industry suffer."
Covid didn't bring anything new, you say?
J.S.: "Covid-19 has mainly been a catalyst: the Covid pandemic has accelerated existing trends. Just think of e-commerce and the success of meal services, from HelloFresh to Deliveroo. It is no coincidence that express courier companies like Gorillas broke through during Covid times. Of course, it has been in the pipeline for a long time, but after the lockdowns, consumers are truly ready for it.
Other trends are also making themselves apparent now: younger generations, in particular, have realised that our planet is not coping well and that we need to start consuming differently. Now, a global epidemic has demonstrated this particularly well. The importance of health, fresh food and taking care of yourself has also become more pronounced.
And, how about social media and a veritable virtual world (the 'metaverse') as an alternative to face-to-face contact, which we had cope without for so long? In that respect, we have learnt a lot from China, where a quarter of customers already shop through social media, and live streaming is big business."
How can the retail industry surmount the Covid crisis now?
J.S.: "Innovation is the only way forward. To be honest, Belgian retail is missing the boat somewhat, but it is also tough to go it alone. A strong network of trusted partners who support you is absolutely essential. Too often, we hear that companies do not know where to start; it seems like such an incredible task.
That is why we offer a stepping stone by not only thinking but also acting along. We are the energy supplier of the retail sector: we want to provide knowledge, energy and inspiration to aid retailers and brands get started. That can be at the most varied levels because everyone is somewhere else within the inevitable transition. Whether it's fixing the basics or (literally) building the future, Retailhub is the partner in future-proofing."
So what can Retailhub offer retailers and brands?
J.S.: "That may sound strong, but we genuinely have an understanding of the market. We know where the pressure points are. Through our daily contacts, we have access to in-crowd knowledge. To be honest: we know the market like the back of our hand. And now, we want to put that into action.
We can build dream teams and set them on their way so that companies can effectively shape their future. But we are also building physical research projects, known as 'living labs', on the high streets, where consumers themselves can test innovative new concepts. We take innovation from the lab to the streets and let consumers think along with us.
If we want to ensure a bright future for retail, working and thinking together is essential. There is an urgent need for everyone who is entrepreneurial to tackle the challenges. That is why Retailhub offers a safe place and reliable partner in modelling the future - not just by thinking, but especially by acting!"
Can you give examples of what you are working on?
J.S.: "I can proudly say that Foodmaker is opening its very first unstaffed store in our office. Instead of the traditional staff canteen, everyone in our knowledge centre will have access to healthy and fresh food when working, whether you are co-working or in a meeting with your team. Technology and sustainability come together in one place. This also applies to other 'living labs' that we are working on, but we will tell you more about that soon!
Many people find themselves in a spiral of thinking, but the leap towards 'acting' is too big. In the new world, it is essential to act, think and then adjust. That is exactly what we aim to provide via Retailhub - our practical knowledge lab that stands for acting and thinking - in that order. We want to inspire by (helping) to act on that platform, connecting the right parties and building a solid ecosystem. That is how we provide oxygen to retailers and brands in various sectors.
Are you inspired to organise your own event - with livestream capability - or an inspiration tour, maybe with a Retailhunt in Antwerp? Or do you want a co-working space? We even have one last office space for rent. Just send an e-mail to email@example.com. See you soon?"