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I recall distinctly, making the decision in March 2020 to not board a flight bound to Chicago to attend an International Conference, judge some awards then, head onto a retail tour and ShopTalk. It was bittersweet but so the right thing to do as conference after conference got cancelled. It was a full year before any online conferences of substance occurred and they rightly were dominated about surviving the pandemic as retailers started shuttering their stores, furloughed employees and moved at pace to alternative channels.

In that period, the industry created a whole new playbook as no one had experienced anything like this before. And we also lost a lot of hope, inspiration, and enthusiasm for our craft. But that all changed when Aunty Cindy said we could finally depart our shores and alongside thousands of retailers and service providers we descended on the Gold Coast in early April for Retail Fest 2022.

This three-day event featured hundreds of expert speakers, panel discussions and an exhibition hall showcasing new technology, solutions and businesses ready to superpower retail.

The speaker of the show was a keynote from Martin Newman (the Consumer Champion) on the topic of customer centricity.

The danger for any customer-facing business is that in the age of e-commerce, you’re far less likely to get a second chance as the customer has thousands of options at the click of a mouse to give their business to someone else who demonstrates that they value their customers. – Newman

Martin and I have a lot of thinking in common, but rather than me repeat what he talked about, why not check it out for yourself.

Day one presentations largely focused on the state of ecommerce and trends emerging, like an increase in customers shopping between 2pm and 5pm – a post-lunch break while working from home?

Over the next few days of the conference, it became very apparent that the rise of the conscious consumer is influencing how we do business, with an increasing focus on ensuring products are sustainably and ethically sourced, and the companies they purchase from are diverse and inclusive.


This was a great toe-dip back into the waters of sharing insights, best practice and emerging trends. The exhibitor's hall saw some incredible vendors polishing their wares and connecting with the amazing innovation (some created over lockdown). MY TOP 3 PICKS FROM THE SHOW TAGR Let’s face it, very few of us will be able to afford the Amazon-style “Just walk out” technology that customers love. But TAGR has developed a solution that makes your in-store checkout seamless for customers to browse & search for products, scan barcodes and pay for purchases — in-store, on your phone, at your own convenience. The real clincher for me, you don’t need an app, password or login. Super simple. Super easy.


TRY@HOME PLATFORM Try@Home is an all-in-one platform that allows your customers to try, touch and feel your products for just a deposit and they handle all the heavy lifting with the app. Don’t worry about customer returns, refunds, shipping or exchanges, as their app streamlines this. What I love about this solution is that it views the opportunity for trying products at home from both the perspective of the shopper and the needs of the retailer. This solution is perfect for those products that are highly emotional or need more consideration within the value equation. For example, swimwear. Fit, style and confidence are all part of the shopping function, and no one loves swimwear shopping in store in front of hideous mirrors, terrible lighting, and a belly full of lunch. Try@Home is the simplest way to grow your online store. Data shows that when customers try more products, they buy more. Effectively this becomes your secret sales assistant post checkout.

Increased average order value - Scale up with ease

  • Your customers can try additional items by adding them to their checkout

Streamlined refund process

  • The return process offers smart prompts allowing you to take control, rescue sales and minimise returns.

Increased average order value

  • Scale up with ease

This isn’t currently available in NZ but the team tells me it is certainly coming!


SOURCI Navigating the complex world of sourcing can be a pain. Sourci partners with fast-growing & established E-Commerce brands to help them procure, secure, produce, launch or deliver products from all over the global. With Sourci leading the process, they connect you with the right suppliers, designers and makers - so together, you make amazing happen.

These guys know their business and with the world of sourcing becoming increasingly fraught, they take the pain away for businesses of every shape and size. While I can’t reveal the names of the retailers they work with in NZ, the list is extensive, and they source for some big box retailers that would surprise you. Certainly, worth investigating if you need assistance in filing source supply gaps and creation of own label or promotional products. RX will be certainly using them for sourcing requirements.


ORBITVU The star of the show, Orbitvu (powered by Mimeo in NZ and Australia), is our sister company who demonstrated our automated photography solutions for the first time. The team clearly caught covid from the streams of people who waited at our booth to bring their wares back, day after day, to see the just how effective, efficient and simple the solution is. Rather than me explain, check out the video and see why we have so many Australian retailers and brand owners wanting this product to drive their ecommerce and visual storytelling strategies.

It was great to get back out into the real world to share learnings, insights and inspiration. We could have all done without getting covid along the way but hey, that's the risk you take for your passion and your craft.

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