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Futurist Keynote, South Africa: The Future of Retail, Cow Hills


Retailers have already experienced one major disruption, and now they’re about to experience another and most aren’t prepared.


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Firstly, thank you to Carlos and the team at Cow Hills who invited me to be the keynote speaker at their annual get together in South Africa to present on the Future of Retail at the glorious Suikerbossie Restaurant overlooking in Hout Bay, where South Africa’s largest retailers, including Shoprite and Woolworths, gathered to hear about the latest trends impacting the industry.


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During my keynote I covered a wide range of topics, from the emergence of new product design and manufacturing technologies, such as Creative Machines and 3D holographic printing, right through to the emergence of the first fully autonomous retailers which will usher in the industry’s third wave of disruption and only serve to further compound the disruption wrought on the industry by the arrival of E-Commerce in the early 2000’s, as it helps retailers everywhere change the economics of the industry, eliminate supply chains and inventory, and move to an on demand business model.


See the keynote in full

To add even more fuel to the fire though, as if trying to navigate two industry wide disruptions in just a couple of decades wasn’t enough, this latest trend is being driven by none other than the e-tail behemoth Amazon who, as I discuss during the presentation, are now on route to become the world’s first fully autonomous retailer where everything from product design and manufacturing, through to fulfilment and delivery are autonomous and performed by machines.


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As I’ve discussed many times before, exponential technologies like the ones I discuss in the presentation not only make the likelihood of entire industries being disrupted in new ways more plausible and easier than ever before, but they also help accelerate the rate of disruption itself.

Inevitably, as executives in the retail industry are about to find out first hand again, this means that the amount of time between disruptive events, and the cycles of disruption themselves, are get increasingly shorter over time, ultimately meaning that companies need to be always on the look out for the next wave of disruption and be ready to both defend against it and lead it.

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