Virtual Services, Experiences and Products — We have seen a rise in virtual services, Cue in Australia introduced a virtual stylist during Covid, we have also seen the rise of the chat bots and the virtual concierge. Brands including Le Specs, Sephora and Gucci have been improving their virtual try on using augmented reality. Another area that I believe will see growth is in virtual outfits. Imagine you have an important zoom meeting with the board, you are still in your pyjamas but you can simply download a virtual outfit to wear (a bit like a filter).
As part of our series about the future of retail, I had the pleasure of interviewing Kelly Slessor.
Kelly Slessor, she is the founder and CEO of Shop You, a personalized virtual shopping mall, and has driven digital growth and innovation in retail for over 20 years. She has worked with hundreds of retailers and property groups globally to develop their digital strategies and drive higher conversions through connection.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
I started my career in the UK, in telecommunications as a technical product manager. We built communications networks for large organizations. I had the opportunity to work on a project called “Sainsburys; the store of the Future” for one of the largest supermarkets in the UK. It is where I found my love and passion for all things retail. At the time (20 years ago) we were looking at implementing self-scanning machines into the supermarket, which were nearly as big as the trollies.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?
I remember pitching to one of the largest department stores, 13 years ago, about mobile and the opportunity. My pitch included a social media platform, which used their models as influencers, and an SMS loyalty program. They thought I was mad and quite clearly told me that it was not the right fit for their audience!
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson or takeaway you learned from that?
I was working with EA sports (A gaming company) and trying to make a good impression, I may have given the impression that I was really into gaming. They then asked me to do some product testing, at this point it was quite clear, as I frantically pushed all the buttons on the controller, that I had no idea or interest in gaming.
Luckily, it did not affect my relationship with them, but it was probably my first lesson, and one of many that taught me to be me!
Are you working on any new exciting projects now? How do you think that might help people?
We are currently building out the virtual mall. The virtual mall is a personalized shopping platform that connects to your physical mall. It allows you to see what is in your local stores, get personal recommendations based on you. When you are ready to purchase you can either click and collect, drive through or have it delivered to you uber style. Time, convenience and safety are the most important things to customers right now. A platform that gives access to local inventory, personal recommendations, and the ability for a customer to choose how they get a product will address these concerns.
Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?
At the end of last year, I felt completely exhausted. I have never been into meditation as I can’t sit still for long enough. I recognized that I needed to re-energize, so I took up meditation and found an amazing coach who has helped me with breath work, meditation and most importantly to focus on the things that matter. We also identified how important exercise is for my state of mind, so I try and exercise every day. I think working out which things give you energy (including people), and ensuring that you make them part of your daily rituals, is one of the most important things you can do to thrive and not burn out.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?
I am so lucky to have so many amazing women and men who support me. But I think if I had to mention one or two it would be my husband and my brother. My husband has an unwavering belief in me, and constantly encourages me to do what I love even though in the past, financially it has been a challenge. When I was having a tough time last year, my brother called me every morning for 3 months just to check in and see if I was ok.
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
I try to support and give back where I can. I have just launched an Ecommerce course for retail business’s my aim is to use some of the profits to teach digital skills to remote communities. I think if we can give digital skills then hopefully, we can help to generate additional sources of income. A lot of remote communities make income from their handmade products. With tourism at an all-time low, this revenue stream has been hugely impacted. I want to provide education and a platform to sell online.
Ok super. Now let’s jump to the main question of our interview. Can you share 5 examples of how retail companies will be adjusting over the next five years to the new ways that consumers like to shop?
According to analyst’s retail has been accelerated by 5 years in the last 3 months. So fast forward 5 years and the retail space will look vastly different. Some of the immediate short-term trends we are seeing that will impact the next 5 years include;
Virtual Services, Experiences and Products — We have seen a rise in virtual services, Cue in Australia introduced a virtual stylist during Covid, we have also seen the rise of the chat bots and the virtual concierge. Brands including Le Specs, Sephora and Gucci have been improving their virtual try-on using augmented reality. Another area that I believe will see growth is in virtual outfits. Imagine you have an important zoom meeting with the board, you are still in your pajamas but you can simply download a virtual outfit to wear (a bit like a filter).
Fulfill You — Getting the products in the hands of customers quickly and cost-effectively in a way that suits them, is one of the fundamental changes Amazon is driving. Uber-style delivery, drones, robotic cars will provide the platforms to allow this to happen.
Personalization Or Guided selling — This trend has been evolving for some time but as more people get online and we will gather more data from customers on intent and purchase behavior. Technology platforms such as Shop You will then use this data to save people time in the search process.
Cashless and Cashier less — One of the biggest pain points in physical shopping is queuing to pay and often where people abandon cart. To address safety and speed we will see the growth of “Walk out” technology such as Amazon Go. Customers will be able to grab products and walk out, technology will then process the payment automatically.
The Digitized Store — Robotic stores with digital displays and movement detecting screens that allow shoppers to connect to an endless array of products. One example of this is Sass and Bides in partnership with Pop Up on Demand recent launch of transparent digital windows with live streaming. Technologies like these free up instore staff to connect with customers and provide engaging experiences.
You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
The movement would be to teach people to fish…. Digitally speaking. To provide remote communities and minorities with the skills and platforms to drive income wherever they are.
How can our readers follow you on social media?
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!