Last week, I had the pleasure of attending the World Retail Congress in Berlin.  The event is sponsored by Oracle and they did a fantastic job of bringing together leaders in the retail industry as well as companies that bring technology leadership to the Retail industry.

 

Hands down, my favorite experience was being a judge for the “Future of Retailing” Student Case competition.  In all, 21 students from 6 countries competed for the top award.  Their challenge was to bring a local country brand to the KaDeWe department store in Berlin.  The range of ideas spanned from hats, designer fingernails, dolls, Ferraris, and couture clothing.  All of the proposals were well thought through and the team from Hong Kong took home the top prize.  2011-winners.jpg

The students all did a pretty good job of highlighting how many different modes of technology can be utilized to present an “Omni Channel” experience to the shopper.  It certainly inspired me to see such young, creative minds working on this challenge and made me think about where they may be and what they will be doing in the next 10-20 years as they grow their leadership skills and bring that new mindset to the retail industry.

 

My favorite demonstration of technology was a digital sign for grocer’s freezer doors from Stratacache, shown above.  While the design is simple and “just works” there is actually a lot of complex system integration that goes on to make this work so well.  Needless to say, the retailers who were there were truly excited by the possibility of making the freezer section more exciting.

 

The awards ceremony and dinner black tie event was well organized and quite a treat.  We were entertained by ballet dancers doing a “Black Swan” routine and then interlaced with some samples of next year’s clothing line from Mango (all black and white outfits!)  I presented out the Award for the most Innovative Advertising campaign – congratulations to Walgreens for their immunization campaign!  It was also fun to see Adidas win the “Innovation in Retailing” award for their Footwear Wall powered by Intel.

 

It certainly was a worthwhile experience for me to attend.  I know the WRC organizers are putting some content on the web for folks to see after the event- check it out here!

 

I look forward to the next big Retail show- NRF 2012!!