Paris Retail Week is back at Paris expo Porte de Versailles from 12 to 14 September, to make Paris the European capital of experiential and connected retail, a trend-setting meeting place for off- and online retail in Europe.
Interview with Sophie Lubet, Director of the Retail Department at Comexposium Group
1/ How long has the show been in existence?
2016 sees the 2nd edition of Paris Retail Week, the new event bringing two established shows under one roof – Equipmag and E-Commerce Paris, which have been running since 1951 and 2004 respectively.
Both shows are market leaders with a very high profile. Bringing together brick-and-mortar retailing and e-commerce, as we did at the first Paris Retail Week in 2015, reflects the sea change currently happening in the retail world and offers a solution that goes well beyond the scope of a single exhibition.
Our aim with this new brand was to connect with the vibrancy that makes Paris so unique, creating a major event at Porte de Versailles that embodies the energy and dynamism of this market.
2/ So the name change reflects a transformation, an evolution, and new goals both for this edition and for 2018 and beyond?
The change was driven by the radical transformation currently impacting the retail sector and retail outlets. Technology has revolutionised consumers’ shopping behaviours – with the steadily growing use of mobile phones being a key development. According to figures from PwC’s 2016 Global Total Retail Survey, 54% of consumers now buy online on a weekly or monthly basis; 34% of the shoppers surveyed say that their mobile phone will become their main purchasing channel, and 67% state that social networks influence their online shopping decisions. Another point emphasised here is that connected retail outlets have a key role to play – so long as the retail organisations themselves undergo a similar transformation, in particular with respect to training their sales personnel.
This radical change in shopping behaviours is also linked to the integration of new technologies in the store environment: NFC, Bluetooth, robotics and AI, Internet of Things, data processing – along with an array of innovations that will transform the physical configuration of the retail store itself, such as smart windows that can display catalogues even outside opening hours, fitting rooms connected to social media that allow consumers to register their preferences, merchandising that incorporates high-quality screens, sales personnel equipped with tablets or terminals to help optimise stock management and ease of check-out, and so on.
All of which means that our goal must be to respond to the emerging needs of retailers and brands, presenting a broad offer that incorporates the new experiential aspect of the retail space – as a point of contact with connected consumers who are looking for a seamless retail experience in an environment that makes them feel good. The retail space itself has once again come fully into its own – even if it sometimes takes the form of a pop-up store or showroom – and its dramatic potential needs to be used to the full. Which means that these new spaces need to be re-thought, re-configured to satisfy the growing demands of today’s savvy shoppers.
3/ Tell us about the 2016 edition.
Paris Retail Week is set to be Europe’s biggest retail event with some 1,000 suppliers/exhibitors who will present their new products and solutions. This year’s programme includes more than 300 talks, with contributions from Google and Facebook ; two Start-up Villages; innovative activities; and the Paris Retail Awards presentation.
For its 2nd year, Paris Retail Week also proposes discovery tours of the Parisian stores that stand out by their innovative concepts, both through their design and through the services they provide to their customers.
4/ Who is the exhibition aimed at – and what is its main draw? What’s your USP compared with existing events?
We want Paris Retail Week to be a completely new kind of event. At once an exhibition, a forum for connecting and networking, a retail festival – with happy hours at the show and a major networking evening in Paris, and a window onto the future with discoveries including the Start-up Villages and the Re-imagine Shopper UX presentation. The programme will also include exclusive content with top speakers, training sessions, and the prestigious Paris Retail Awards showcasing innovation across ten categories – including a special Rookie of the Year prize for start-ups.
The aim is to offer an event that’s bursting with inspiration, contacts and business opportunities. The whole of the retail and e-commerce community will be buzzing – in the city that’s the shopping capital of the world. We’ve got our sights trained on the future – and we’re looking forward to welcoming the international retail sector to Paris.
Come and join us from 12 to 14 September for a sensational and unforgettable week!