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This fall, I’m headling a major retail event in Las Vegas – Xcelerate 2017! Details are here.


There’s a lot of change underway – and certainly, the Amazon/Whole Foods situation is a wake up call for everyone. I’ve been speaking about the decline and transformation of traditional retail for over 20 years. In the 1990’s, I even wrote a book about e-commerce that was translated into German and Russian, as well as being picked up and distributed by Visa USA to it merchants.

Retailers must scramble to keep up with fast paced change. Maybe that’s why Godiva Chocolates has had me to Europe twice this year for insight on what’s going on.

Here’s the description for my September keynote.

The Disruption and Reinvention of Retail: Aligning to the World of Speed  

It’s hard to discount the speed of change occurring in the world of retail and consumer products. Consider this: E-commerce could be 25% of the retail – grocery and convenience — experience by 2021. Shopper marketing,” which combines location intelligence, mobile technology and in-store display technology for a new form of in-store promotion, continues to move forward. Mobile payment involving Apple Pay and disappearance of the cash-register, providing opportunity and challenge with loyalty, infrastructure and disruption. Then there is Amazon Alexa, AI and shopping bots! Simply talk and products are added to your shopping cart, and delivered within an hour! Let’s not stop — there’s also the rapid installation of “click and collect” infrastructure (i.e. an online purchase, with same day pickup at a retail location). And last but not least, the arrival of active, intelligent packaging and intelligent (“Internet of Things”) products, collapsing product life-cycles, rapid product obsolescence and the implications on inventory and supply chain!

We are going to see more change in the world of retail in the next 5 year than we have seen in the last 100. Savvy brands, retailers, shopping mall and retail infrastructure companies are working to understand these trends, and what they need to do from an innovation perspective to turn them from challenge to opportunity.  Futurist Jim Carroll will help us to understand the tsunami of change sweeping retail.

When the GAP went looking for a trends and innovation expert to speak to a small, intimate group of senior executives, they chose Jim Carroll. He has been the keynote speaker for some of the largest retail conferences in the world, with audiences of up to 7,000 people in Las Vegas, including Consumer Goods Technology Business & Technology Leadership Conference • Subway • Multi-Unit Franchise Conference Las Vegas • Produce Marketing Association Fresh Summit • Consumer Electronics Association CEO Summit • Retail Value Chain Federation • Yum! Brands (KFC, Taco Bell, Pizza Hut) Global Leadership Conference • Burger King Global Franchise Meeting • VIBE (Very Important Beverage Executives) Summit • Manufacturing Jewelers Suppliers of America • National Home Furnishings Association • Do It Best Corporation • US Department of Defence Commissary Agency • Readers Digest Food & Entertainment Group Branding/Retail Summit • Professional Retail Store Maintenance Association • National Association of Truck Stop Operators • Convenience U annual conference • Point of Purchase Advertising International Association • Chain Drug Store Association of Canada • Canadian Council of Grocery Distributors • Canadian Federation of Independent Grocers


Here’s an article from my September 2010 CAMagazine column:

Jim Carroll was the opening keynote for the 2010 Consumer Electronic Association CEO Summit, speaking to the theme of "Brand Innovation At the Speed of Twitter: How to Innovate in the Era of Hyperconnectivity." Click the image for more on this keynote topic.

It’s no secret that social networks are booming. But let’s put into perspective how quickly they are growing. It took radio 38 years to hit 50 million users. Television took 13 years, the Internet four years and the iPhone three years. In that context, now consider that Facebook is adding 20 million users a month and Twitter reports more than 300,000 people are signing up every day. These statistics are mind-boggling, even to someone like me who has been online since 1981.

Much of this rapid growth is driven by the younger generation: 50% of the global population is less than 25 — and in North America, 96% of them use Facebook. That’s a pretty astonishing percentage. Social networking is also increasing as people use their mobile devices to continually share their thoughts, access social media content and see what their friends are up to. Software such as Tweetdeck lets people access and filter the flood of information that flows through Twitter, whether it is related to the friends and people they follow or to track information posted about breaking news.

But social networks aren’t just inane thoughts people post to their Facebook and Twitter accounts; it’s the flood of video and pictures that people place online. YouTube reports that some 24 hours of video are uploaded to the service every minute — and when the iPhone was released, YouTube traffic rose by 1,700%.

What is perhaps most significant is that social networks are changing the very nature of how people search for information. At this point, Facebook is used for more searches than Google. And at 600 million queries a day, Twitter is now the largest search engine in the world.

What does it all mean? The key point here is that when people search for information on goods and services, they turn to other people on social networks for advice and guidance more often than they consult producers of the product or service itself. At this point, one out of four online searches for the top 20 global brands end up with user generated content, such as information on blogs, as well as what people post to Twitter and Facebook.

The result is that organizations are having to think about advertising and branding in completely different ways. In the olden days a company could figure out an advertising and marketing strategy, build a campaign and put it out to the public. Today, lots of people are having lots of “conversations” about many topics, including the products and services that they use on a daily basis. They’re placing online both positive and negative insight. And increasingly, when we search for information about a product or service, we’re accessing that insight, in addition to — or sometimes in place of — a company’s carefully crafted message.

That’s why organizations are scrambling to change their approach to marketing and advertising.

Last year, I had the opportunity to speak at the annual Consumer Electronics Association CEO Summit in California. It was a pretty fascinating crowd, with senior executives from a variety of global entertainment and technology companies, as well as major global retailers that sell their products. The rapid pace of change in the online world, particularly with respect to social networks, is coming to influence these markets. It’s been reported, for example, that IBM has combined some of its marketing and PR staff to deal with the impact of social networking. And Pepsi now devotes one-third of its advertising budget to interactive and social media.

The bottom line? Companies must think about how to reach their customers in new and different ways.

Product lifecyclesThis graph represents the model of product life cycles as taught in business schools for the last, oh, I don’t know, 100 years?

Companies would innovate, and introduce a new product. If it succeeded, they would experience growth. At some point, sales would peak. The product would then tend to become obsolete or overtaken by competitors,  and sales would decline.

What a quaint model. Too bad it bears no resemblance to todays’ reality. Many industries are now finding that product obsolescence now occurs during the growth stage; in the hi-tech industry, the “decline” phase caused by instant obsolescence can even occur during the introduction,

Back in June, I was the opening speaker for the Consumer Electronics Association CEO Summit in Ojai, California, and spoke to this trend. At the time, Lenovo had just pulled the plug on a pad-like product, even before it was released, because it was obvious that its’ limited feature set had already made it irrelevant and obsolete in a very fast paced market.

The reality of today’s market is that of instant obsolescence, and if you want to master innovation, you need to think about how your own product life cycle is changing.

Here’s a video take that is worth watching on the trend:

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