HomeFEATURESCapitalise on today and invest in tomorrow at the Retail NZ Summit and SME Forum

Capitalise on today and invest in tomorrow at the Retail NZ Summit and SME Forum

New Zealand’s leading retail trade organization, Retail NZ, works year-round to assist its members with retail advice, benefits, industry intel and education. This July it’s going above and beyond to offer the Retail NZ Summit, and SME forum, plus the awards. Find out here how you can be in to win a double pass to the NZ Retail Summit.

“We tried really hard to cover all bases and provide speakers who are interesting, educational and entertaining all at the same time,” says Retail NZ interim chief executive and general manager public affairs Greg Harford.

The programme of events Retail NZ will be holding at Sky City Convention Centre in Auckland on July 23 will include the Retail NZ Summit, organized by Retail NZ in partnership with Conferenz, and the Retail NZ SME Forum. There’s also a cocktail function, where attendees can network and discuss the day’s insights, and the much-anticipated Retail NZ Awards and Gala Dinner.

Asked to name a favourite speaker from the Summit or Forum, Harford says he’s “interested in nearly everything” – the challenge will be to choose what to see.

“We felt it was really important to have a balance between New Zealand speakers and international keynotes.”

Thinking big at the Retail NZ Summit

The Summit is tailored for corporate retailers, manufacturers, government and regulators, suppliers and consumer groups. Harford says it will look at “the bigger picture issues”. It’s divided up into four themes:

  • Driving the future of retail
  • Disrupting in the retail space
  • Review, regulation and compliance
  • Keeping on top of retail in New Zealand

International keynotes at the Summit are Liza Schillo, senior manager, global product sustainability at Levi Strauss & Co.; and Professor Jonathan Reynolds, academic director at the Oxford Institute of Retail Management.

The topic of Reynolds’ keynote is ‘Navigating the new retail landscape: Retail 2030”. He summarises the number-one learning he’d like attendees to take away from his address as “Be prepared!”

He describes the state of United Kingdom retailing as having been hit by “something of a perfect storm” in the last five years, explaining that it’s been at the epicenter of growth in online retailing in Europe. At the same time, traditional retailers’ costs have increased, and “considerable consumer uncertainty” has arisen from Brexit.

“As a result, we have seen a number of high profile bankruptcies, acquisitions, and downsizing of branch networks, with more to come,” he says. “So this is a big shake-out and there have been some big casualties – you only have to look at Bunnings’ ill-fated expedition to the UK. But there are going to be winners as well as losers out of this process, as well as new types of retailer, as a new equilibrium emerges.”

Reynolds says many of the challenges facing UK retailers also affect New Zealand. Chief amongst these are the impact of technology and the future of work. Both countries have low unemployment, and approximately the same proportion of Kiwis and UK-dwellers work in retail.

“In the UK, we see a future sector supporting fewer jobs, but better – as many as a 900,000 semi-skilled and unskilled jobs could be lost by 2025. But retailers transforming themselves into omnichannel businesses require skilled digital talent even though they will need less instore staff.”

This presents a problem, Reynolds says, as digital talent is “thin on the ground” and willing to travel, putting a premium on education and training.

Asked to point out some emerging retail opportunities, Reynolds says: “There’s nothing like a burning platform for stimulating innovation. Consumers have been spoiled for choice as retailers of all kinds in many geographies are investing in innovation.”

Format innovation. Reynolds says China’s growing hi-tech mobile convenience stores, such as BingoBox, are growing considerably faster than Amazon Go is in the US. These stores are redefining what it means to be a convenience retailer.

“There has been a proliferation of stores of the future,” Reynolds notes. He feels online retailer Farfetch’s Store of the Future sets the bar on the future of luxury fashion retail.

Organisational innovation. Innovation incubators sometimes get a bad press as being superficial, notes Reynolds, but he points out these are linked to changes in company culture. Incubators in businesses such as UK grocer Tesco and department store business John Lewis & Partners have injected new thinking into these businesses.

Process innovation. “The increasing demands and sophistication of omnichannel logistics are creating demand for new kinds of activities and real estate, such as hub-and-spoke distribution and returns processing centres,” Reynolds says.

It’s often said that global trends and developments take around four years to reach New Zealand from bigger markets like the US and UK. Reynolds’ advice for Kiwi retailers hoping to use that time to prepare for the trends and developments current in the UK right now is “Start earlier!”

“Work out how these inevitable trends will play out (sooner rather than later) and adapt to the New Zealand market. But also, don’t wait for the trend to reach Kiwi shores. Game the options. Perhaps innovate domestically first, or identify and reach out to prospective international partners wisely and in advance.”

The NZ Retail Summit features a further 15 domestic speakers, including business leaders like Kevin Rowland, general manager information technology at EziBuy; representatives like Antonia Horrocks, general manager competition and consumer at the Commerce Commission; and experts like Suzanne Chetwin, chief executive officer of Consumer NZ.

Rowland’s presentation is titled ‘Beyond ecommerce: Going beyond traditional methods of retailing”. He says at its core lies Harry Gordon Selfridge’s famous maxim, “The customer is always right”.

Customers are more informed and knowledgeable than ever before, and the pace of change in retail is exponential, but even as we move into the next stage of the retail landscape –  unified commerce or “anytime, anywhere, anyhow” – retail is still “just retail”, says Rowland.

“It is Buy, Move Sell, but in a whole new era. If retailers are to remain competitive then they need to familiarise themselves with way the market is changing, and what strategies they have in place to cope with it.”

Rowland hopes attendees will ask themselves the following questions as they listen to his presentation:

  • Do we know who our customers are? Really know?
  • How can we personalise offerings?
  • How can we provide additional value without driving down margins?
  • What excites our customers and engages them with us, and has them talking about us to their friends?

The most exciting opportunity he sees emerging in the next five years is the emergence of unified commerce:

“Buying anything from anywhere on any device at any time is already here and is expected, but as technology and analysis evolves we will better provide a true seamless experience, so a customer always feels valued and being treated on a personal level no matter how they shop. As an industry there is still a long way to go, but unified commerce will happen.”

Thriving in today and tomorrow’s environment at the Retail NZ SME Forum

While the Retail NZ Summit sets its sights high, the half-day Small and Medium Retailers’ Forum will be focused on the practical experiences of small businesses. SME retailers are welcome to attend the summit but must register separately.

Featured speakers at the SME Forum include Liz Wheadon, director of Retail NZ; Anita Affleck, director of Auckland baby goods store Global Baby; and Sam Fletcher, founder and chief executive of Evo Bikes.

Master peanut butter maker Pic Picot of Pic’s Peanut Butter will be giving the SME Forum’s keynote. Picot founded his peanut butter company as a hobby-style garage operation in 2007, selling it at Nelson’s weekly farmer’s market before it was picked up by first local, then national supermarket chains. It now sells in Australia, China, Southeast Asia, the UK and America, and Pic’s has just opened a headquarters of Willy Wonka proportions in Nelson: Pic’s Peanut Butter World.

“I watched a huge truck being loaded with peanut butter for Australia a few days ago, and I really had to pinch myself,” says Picot. “It has all come as such a surprise. It’s all so much fun, and I get to meet so many lovely people.”

Picot hopes retailers attending his keynote will come away understanding that big operators are vulnerable to disruption by “anyone with a clear vision a good product and real pride in their work.”

He feels that many supermarkets seem “obsessed” with seeing new products – “I can’t see the sense in their carrying an ever-expanding or ever-changing range of products, especially in food,” – but is very excited by Pic’s Peanut Butters’ customers’ enthusiasm for less processed foods.

The pressure consumers are exerting on manufacturers to address issues of waste and global warming is positive, Picot says.

Asked what corporates can learn from the SME sector, Picot replies: “I think concern for their shareholders interferes with their ability to truly look after their customers. Private companies are able to enjoy rewards from their businesses in forms other than money.”

In turn, Picot says, SME retailers can learn good governance from their counterparts in corporate businesses.

“I think too many small business owners are blinkered by an unjustified faith in their own judgement and their often limited experience in managing a business.”

Celebrate success with the retail community

Retail NZ’s Harford hopes all attendees to each event will come away with inspiration, and “good retailing information about trends and best practice”. Whichever they choose to go to, he says, they’ll find useful information to inform their business planning and decision-making, and great networking opportunities.

He says meeting customer demands today and being abreast of future trends is key as retailers increasingly shift their focus to customer experience.

 “We’re clearly moving away from a transactional shopping environment to an experiential one,” Harford says. “It’s all about being instore with your friends and family, being entertained and being comfortable… People who just want to buy a particular product are more likely to do it online.”

The retail community must also collectively consider big-picture issues like sustainability, technology’s effects on consumer habits and productivity changes, he says.

Harford notes that retailers in New Zealand are facing many of the same challenges in terms of constrained household spend, regulation, and competition.

“As a retail community in New Zealand, we are all in this together,” Harford says. “We all need to target the domestic consumer, we all need to be competing strongly against online international presences.”

Harford looks forward to “celebrating success” with retailers at the Retail NZ Awards 2019 and gala dinner.

“We are expecting a sizable number of retailers from diverse businesses around the country.”

Those who would like to attend the Retail NZ Summit or the Small and Medium Retailers’ Forum can register online at www.retailnzsummit.co.nz

Special rate are available for Retail NZ members. 


Win a double pass to the Retail NZ Summit organized by Retail NZ in partnership with Conferenz. We have a double pass to give away to one lucky reader. Go into the draw now.

The winner will be drawn on Monday July 8. 

*Terms and conditions apply. The pass is for Retail NZ Summit only, is non transferable and can’t be exchanged for cash. No refunds will be made. By entering the draw you agree to your details being shared with the event organisers for the purpose of remarketing.

Rate This Article: