The Retail Prophet Has Spoken: Collaborate, Connect, Innovate


At RetailTechCon 2015, Douglas Stephens wowed all in attendance with an inspiring and eye-widening opening keynote. The Retail Prophet put the famous quote "retail is dead" — from the co-founder of Netscape and major technology investor Marc Andreesen —to rest and explored what tomorrow holds for the industry.

Stephens is one of the world’s foremost retail industry futurists. His intellectual work and thinking have influenced many of the world’s best-known retailers, agencies and brands including Target, Home Depot, Disney, Crayola, WestJet, Citibank, Razorfish and Air Miles. Prior to founding Retail Prophet, Stephens spent 20 years in the retail industry, holding senior international roles.

Below are some of the most interesting quotes from Stephens' presentation titled Inspired Retailing: Collaborate, Connect, Innovate:
  • "The role of e-commerce is not to encourage us to buy things on line but to get them to us in shorter amounts of time."
  • "German post office and DHL are already using drones — things that seems fantastic only a few years ago are actually happening."
  • "As good as Amazon and eBay are it is basically just digitized catalog shopping. Immersive retail however can be the future."
  • "Within five years augmented reality will not look as clunky and mechanical as it does today, it will be comfortable and we will be using them on our couches. Imagine instead of looking at static photos and text, we can shop anywhere around the world and interact with staff in a tactile way."
  • "We are seeing growth in the ability to customize things via the web. We can make one of something just as easily as we can make 10,000 of something."
  • "There is more to shopping than just the acquisition of stuff. More often than not it is more like the reason that we go to a nice restaurant. It is about the ambiance, dÉcor, music, the presentation — all of it combines to create a remarkable experience for us. There is something social about it. Otherwise why would Amazon be opening physical stores?"
  • "It has been a really good era in retail stretching back to the 50s. It has come to an end and those factors that drove retail no longer exist. It all worked for about 60 years because of the marketing funnel. You put enough money at the top of the funnel and it worked. All you had to do was spend more than the competition. The marketing funnel is broken and it is freaking a lot of marketers out."
  • "The funnel is actually not broke, it just works in reverse. The customer has the funnel now."
  • "The obliterated path to purchase is putting the consumer directly in control of everything."
  • "Stop the obsession over why your social media followers aren’t turning into money. Take those social interactions into the store environment."
  • "The one you really have to watch is Disney. What they understand with their magic band is that it is not about payment, but tailoring experiences to the individual."
  • "Retail is becoming Phy-gital. The combination of physical and digital."
  • "We have to start thinking about new metrics, treat the store like a website: unique visits versus repeat visits, bounce rate, dwell time, demographic, etc."
  • "No one needs the product. They do need the why and how you sell what you sell."
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