Experts from RevTech Ventures and Accenture Interactive Discuss the Future of Retail During Dallas Startup Week

In an age nicknamed the “retail apocalypse” by analysts, marketing experts spoke on digital pioneering amid economic crisis at DSW20.

Heather Hildebrand, managing director for Accenture Interactive, and David Matthews, managing director of RevTech Ventures, imparted their perspectives on the ways in which a pandemic-induced recession will change the landscape for retail on the second day of Dallas Startup Week 2020.

The session called “The Future of Retail” served as a conversation on the evolution of retail and the key technologies transforming the industry during these extraordinary times. 

Sixty percent more stores shuttered their doors in 2020 than in 2018, according to Business Insider. Citing that this year initially looked like the Wild West to retailers, these two industry professionals commented on how 2020’s financial downturn may actually serve as an opportunity for startups to succeed. 

As the pandemic pushes established retail giants down, the playing field equalizes, allowing newer enterprises a chance to spark change in North Texas, said Matthews during the event. One man’s pandemonium is another man’s big break, he added, referencing examples of consumer demands that must be satisfied at this moment. 

“Now is a great time for a startup, just like anytime we have a period of massive disruption, where incumbents are going out of business, there’s room for newness,” Matthews said. “The latest players, like Peloton, identify unmet needs and drive their sales up in the right place at the right time.” 

Legacy retailers are paralyzed, while new digitally native brands are pushing traditional retail titans out of the market, Hildebrand agreed, mentioning the importance of foresight for retail companies. 

“While we don’t want to over-rotate to a COVID lens, but the pandemic has been a force to expedite corporate plans,” Hildebrand said. “Therefore, those companies that were thinking five years ahead were ready for these circumstances, but without COVID, they might have been early.” 

Per bankruptcy research from BCG, selecting an idea that consumers do not care about causes 32 percent of innovation failures. Startups have a keen ability to target their promotions to consumer wants, Hildebrand said in her reasoning behind why this year represents prospects for new businesses. 

“Big brands and retailers need to innovate their business operations to execute faster, meet supply chain demands, and communicate with consumers,” Hildebrand said. “Startups are known for being nimble and not overly burdened with the process. In this time, startups are developing agility to operate internally and to engage with consumers.” 

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