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Bamboo Rose CEO Sue Welch Discusses the Thorns of Retail in 2020

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In retail, vision isn’t something you have, it’s something you do. We are coming off of a decade of explosive technological growth that has propelled the retail industry – particularly over the last four years – from the brink of collapse, to a resurgent state, currently enjoying strong consumer spending. Much of this success has come through tech integrations that have forged a new way of working that not only predicts the future but creates it – one day at a time. While vision isn’t easy to find, it’s worth taking a closer look as we start a new decade in 2020.

In January, more than 38,000 retailers will descend on New York’s Javits Center for NRF 2020: Retail’s Big Show. It’s the one place where the industry comes together to see beyond what is, to reveal what could be. Plotting a vision for where retail will go by learning from where it’s been – where visionary talent meets visionary tech.

Much of that visionary tech sits behind the scenes, unbeknownst to consumers as the true engine powering retails resurgence. Supply Chain Management, Global Trade Management and Product Lifecycle Management may not be the three terms that are top of mind to you when you’re grabbing the latest holiday sweater off the racks, but they are a venerable holy trinity when it comes to tech and strategy that will keep retail on its path to growth, and one company has the insights on why that matters: Bamboo Rose.

Offering an open platform that is interoperable with other technologies, Bamboo Rose is working with some of the most familiar household names that surround you in your home. The company’s platform (from day one) helps clients analyze and drive value from data across the enterprise solution ecosystem. The collaborative Bamboo Rose platform offers a B2B marketplace to create and design products and facilitate development as well as sourcing and delivery solutions, product lifecycle management, purchase order management, global trade management, supply chain, and financing.

Sitting across these vast data sets and having worked to develop this platform in direct response to her client’s evolving business needs, Sue Welch – CEO of Bamboo Rose – brings a unique perspective to understanding the state of retail today. I had a chance to catch up with Sue before the holiday break, and NRF 2020, to capture her insights on what the show and coming year hold for the industry.

retail technology trends

Ryan: “2020 will be the first year NRF has a Food Tech Workshop! What does that signal to you about the market forces that have put food and tech together on this year’s agenda?”

Sue: “Consumers are laser focused on sustainability and traceability and one of their key areas of concern is naturally around the safety of their food supply. As they have become more vocal and demanding of visibility into ever increasing low levels of information, it has pushed the food retailers and suppliers to rethink their supply chains and how willing they are to expose their processes and data to their partners and consumers. It also has forced food retailers to put the same demands on their suppliers.

To accomplish both sets of demands, newer, more digital solutions are needed to support the entire business processes and all the community members – retailer, supplier, farmer, packaging and labeling organizations, carriers and inspection companies.”

Ryan: “A lot of topics touching the show this year deal with the “Future Consumer,” and predicting shopping habits/traits/behaviors in 2022 and even 2025. What are the top three things you believe will evolve in consumer shopping habits over the next 2-5 years that retailers, serving all verticals, need to be cognizant of?”

Sue: “First, the consumer wants visibility into production and components as well as stories that go along with the products they purchase. They will force impact ratings as part of the product credentials to influence and ensure that where, how and what retailers sell have the least harmful impact on their environment. We are seeing major retailers like H&M commit to zero impact ratings by 2030 to meet the consumer demand.”

“Second, consumer shaming will include shaming not only retailers but also other consumers. For instance, we are now seeing a backlash against ugly Christmas sweaters due to their high plastic content and limited usability. Worn once and rarely recycled (only 5% of the 22 million sweaters sold each year are recycled), ugly sweaters are becoming the poster child of the type of waste they eschew.”retail technology client

“And third, entice consumers to physical shopping sites, retailers will become more creative and entertaining. More store events, such as TED talks, speakers, social match-ups and the like.”

Ryan: “Retailers today are pricing smarter, not harder, from across a range of sectors with an array of business models, but many aren’t working as efficiently in the pre-sale (supply chain, PLM, GTM etc.) process as they should be. If you had to wager, what percentage of businesses today, who fail to change their processes on the pre-sale end, will find themselves out of business by 2025?”

Sue: “100% of those retailers that have not committed to a digital strategy and taken steps to execute on the transformation of their product development and supply chain processes will be out of business in 2025. It isn’t just that they have inefficient supply chains, but they also lack systemic and instantaneous access to a strong community of suppliers and service providers. They cannot easily leverage partner insights to collaboratively bring new products to market at the dizzying pace and ruthless efficiency of more successful retailers.”

“Competitors deploying AI and machine learning technologies to access internal and external sources of data across many networks will be able to operate in an increasingly lights-out mode, while retailers who lack the pre-sales platform will be depending on human interaction with its attendant costs and inefficiencies.”

Ryan: “What’s the one part of NRF that you look forward to the most every year, and why?”

Sue: “The chance to get out and learn – about new technologies, trends, insights and markets – from speakers, customers and booth visitors is stimulating and fun. It’s a great opportunity to share perspectives – and just a bit of gossip!”

Bamboo Rose serves more than 250K user members, 400 brands, and 35K suppliers and service providers throughout the world, allowing them to discover, develop, and deliver products at digital speed. Learn more at, or find them on Twitter at @GoBambooRose.

NRF 2020 runs January 11-14 in New York. You can catch Sue and the team from Bamboo Rose live from the show floor at booth #5373.

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