With in-person events now returning to normal levels, several of the RLB team headed off to Dusseldorf last week for EuroShop 2023, billed as “the world’s no 1 retail trade fair”.
Taking place every three years, it is no surprise the event itself was extensive with numerous halls of exhibitors and a full programme of speakers. For the RLB team, there were two prominent themes running through the event – innovation and sustainability.
Innovation and Technology
As you would expect, there were many suppliers showcasing the latest products and services aimed to make the shopping customer experience better, and life for those working in retail estate management more efficient. From connected building fabric that incorporates Internet Of Things (IOT) with building infrastructure to technologies that delivered tailored customer profiling, there were many prototypes to see and discuss.
Among the many innovations on display, the two that stood out for us were the detection mats that can be used under flooring to expose water damage from refrigeration units and the like in retail estates and the incorporation of smart, connected technology across the retail experience; including smart trollies, and the further evolution of dynamic digital shelf edge labelling systems. All communicating with one another to provide benefits for both retailer and customers alike. As built environmental professionals, the interest for our team was in how both technologies impact store design and functionality. With the detection mats their ability to signal water damage at the early stages will save retailers time and money in being able to rectify the situation before it becomes critical and means store closures. For the front-end technology, it is how much infrastructure will be needed to facilitate customer profile technology and whether this technology can be incorporated at scale into retrofits as well as new store designs.
Sustainability and the DRS
Sustainability was the second predominant theme, with the Deposit Return Scheme (DRS) being talked about at length by many visitors to the conference. With the scheme legalised in Scotland from August, assuming the Scottish First Minister elections do not influence the legalisation, and rolled out in the rest of the UK in 2025, it of course is forefront in retailers’ minds. This was reflective in the number of DRS units that were being displayed and promoted during the event. The challenge in our opinion will be how to make these units suitable for all stores – as many were too large and way over engineered for many stores in the existing retail estate in the UK. It was also interesting to see how some of the exhibitors, including ITAB, had created their stands from recycled materials with the view to taking them back to their HQ to reuse at other events – surely feeding into their own corporate carbon net zero agenda requirements.
As with all events, it gave our team the chance to stop and think what the future for retailers will look like and how we can help them with the challenges and opportunities ahead. As the retail landscape continues to evolve and the customer experience becomes more bespoke and personalised, we too continue to look at how we can adapt and dovetail our solutions to the future retail environment.