EuroShop on trend

EuroShop drew to a close today and I now look forward to resting tired feet. As a first timer I was unprepared for the vastness of the expo, spreading as it does over 17 halls. Any visitor counting steps this week should have racked up a good score! The vast size does allow plenty of space to see the displays in comfort and consequently EuroShop never feels crowded. The coronavirus meant that some of the exhibitors from China were unable to attend and I was told by a taxi driver that visitor numbers were down. On the other hand, taxi drivers world-wide instinctively bemoan a declining trade if asked!

Attending some of the various talks and reading the show literature, it seems that the industry is obsessed with what trends are emerging. This is such a prevailing conversation that if I were to cast my eye over this week’s EuroShop I would say that the most obvious trend in the retail world today is its obsession with the forecasting of trends!

The reasons for this trend-hunting are understandable. Firstly, the retail world moves fast and so late-adopters can end up looking like dinosaurs. Secondly, whilst we tell ourselves how well we understand retail’s migration from brick to click and back to brick again (or whatever this week’s theory suggests), there is a nagging doubt that we are already being blindsided by a significant change. Many kilos of trade publications covering trends were available at EuroShop, including iXtenso’s handily named magazine Retail Trends. Retail Trends picks up on biophilic design and whilst this wasn’t an overt trend, there were some interesting products that suggest that the philosophy, helpfully defined by the magazine as “design inspired by the love of life in nature” is becoming more commonplace.

Light Emotion demonstrated an LED fitting with a colour temperature specifically adjusted to slow growing plants. Interestingly their commercial version is soon to be followed with a domestic luminaire available on the high street. Artificial lighting to support salad crops was also on display courtesy of Infarm who were included in Schweitzer’s impressive CIRCLE stand. During the week I’m sure that many visitors made their way to Schweitzer’s award winning foodhall (disguised as a supermarket), Zurheide Centre and Hyphen’s team was no different.

Grocery retail is where the innovation seems to be at the fore in terms of improving payment methods. Some interesting tech, common in Belgium and the Netherlands, but still far less adopted in the UK was on display. The self scanning company Revision is already supplied to Tesco and it seems it’ll become more commonplace. Interestingly Revision note that in the Netherlands, it’s not tech-savvy youngsters who reach for a scanner, but older retired customers who prefer the price certainty of a running tally.

The scanner can be used to offer real-time special offers and I’m told that route guidance to hard to find items is coming soon. The mapping of customer behaviour through data collection and analytics was a strong theme but one that has maybe still to make its mark on store planning and design. The technology is impressive, although I was amused that when I put myself up as a guinea pig on a variety of systems, my estimated age spread across twenty years!

Stepping out of the trade fair and into one of the presentation lounges, I enjoyed VMSD Jennifer Acevedo’s Retail Trends In North America, a whirlwind review of what’s happening across the pond. A strong take-away is the ever-shrinking retail footprint and how brands are forming unlikely but imaginative alliances to best utilise their real estate. For example Kohl’s taking Amazon returns under their wing to put spare space to productive use and drive footfall.

Finally a big thanks to the UK Department for International Trade who supported Hyphen’s presence at EuroShop, particularly Rozmin Blatt and Leila Al-Kazwini who we met on the stand and were always ready to lift spirits with a cup of tea.