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Innovation and the Future of Retail

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The Company of Young Professionals (CYP) is a leadership development program of The Vancouver Board of Trade, which connects emerging young professionals in the Greater Vancouver area. CYP members are committed to improving the community, creating strong relationships, developing themselves and developing the people around them.

Their latest event was exploration of Innovation and the Future of Retail by Brent Brown, Director of World Wide Retail Industry, Hewlett-Packard, which itself sells products to both companies and consumers. Actually they physically sell a product every 6 seconds, "just like breathing", as Dean Cloutier of Hardedge Creative tweeted. So HP know a thing or two about retail, and as Brent emphasizes, "the future is all about creating a whole new consumer experience".

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Consumer Experience is all about getting to know the consumer, to create a better experience, and technology has a fundamental role to play in this. Somehow retailers need to harness the Omni consumer model. So whilst consumers purchase in many diverse ways, from online to walking into a store, they are 'known' to the retailer in the former and a stranger in the latter -- a major chasm that needs crossing.

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Innovation will require changing the face of technology for the user. Data and information of the consumer is there, from machine to machine; transactional and social human. This data somehow needs to be turned into revenue for retailers. Google and Facebook are companies to watch, because of their detailed knowledge of the consumer. Divergent information needs to be converged into a solution that fuses the bricks & mortar building retail experience, with the personalized consumer focused strategy that Amazon offers, whilst maintaining data protection and security. Yet these are radically different cultures to fuse. It's a massive challenge, yet like all challenges not insurmountable, with a can do/why not? mentality; especially if it incorporates Human Centered Design approaches and technologies such as Aurasma, an augmented reality platform.

Shopping, the final frontier, but not as we know it!