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Commerce Transformation Days, Poland's only international conference fully dedicated to the digital transformation of commerce, is making history. The 7th Edition of the event, formerly known as the Congress of E-commerce Directors, was held on September 22 and 23. This year's event attracted record attendance and provided a substantial dose of knowledge - more than 160 people met during the two days - and a total of 44 experts spoke on the main stage and in the workshop rooms, within 6 thematic blocks. Participants discussed opportunities and threats for the commerce industry in the face of dynamic changes in the market environment.

For several years now, the reality in which we operate has become increasingly complex. We are dealing with strong volatility in the market, which entrepreneurs have to cope with. Although the future cannot be predicted, business is trying to respond properly and quickly to changes. Its functioning, ability to compete and grow depends on it. An important element in this process is proper planning and sharing of experience. When organizing the Commerce Transformation Days conference, we wanted to create a platform through which experts and key market leaders could openly discuss the opportunities and threats of the future. We achieved this goal, and this motivates us to continue raising the bar, both in terms of content and the networking aspect of the event in next year's edition.

Grzegorz Kuczynski, CEO at Unity Group

Observing the market and the challenges facing the trade sector, Unity Group - the organizer of the event - has decided that the theme of the 7th edition of Commerce Transformation Days will be 'Trade Transformation in an Era of Dynamic Change. How to prepare for the unpredictable?' Huge, dynamic and progressive volatility has become a kind of permanent feature of the modern world. The conference was an attempt to develop methods for business to preparefor it and to cope with the new reality.

Tame the uncertainty

Regardless of the market segment represented, companies should prepare for current and upcoming changes in their environment. This topic was tackled at the very beginning of the conference by Pawel Motyl, an expert in leadership and decision-making, passionate about advanced technologies and their impact on companies' competitive strategies and the effectiveness of teams and leaders, who was the Key Note speaker at this year's CTD. In his speech, he argued that the recipe for winning in an unpredictable environment is to combine agility in operations with excellent risk management. However, this requires top-notch leadership at all levels of the organizational structure, excellent teamwork and communication, motivation of self and others in getting through crisis moments, and self-awareness of the changing paradigm of personal effectiveness. Consumers also feel lost in these changing times, as Izabela Franke, a Customer Experience expert from PwC Poland, pointed out. In her presentation, she stressed that sellers and marketers have a great responsibility to support consumers in building the right attitudes while shopping, amidst an overload of marketing messages and in the absence of adequate knowledge. This is because modern shoppers, left to their own devices, often behave illogically and irrationally.

One step ahead of the competition

During the event, experts repeatedly pointed out the biggest challenges currently facing the e-commerce industry. These include conversion optimization and automation.

- I see two most important areas for e-commerce at the moment; the first is CRO, or conversion optimization. Due to the tough market situation and the increased focus on maximizing the result from acquired traffic, we will see a broader approach to optimizing all points of contact between the customer and the business," said Militaria.pl's e-commerce director, Marek Prudel during the panel discussion. - The second area is automation, including that which improves communication with the customer. Not only chatbots will gain in popularity, but also building automated scenarios to lead not only to the first sale, but also to repeat sales. Importantly, sellers are again placing a strong emphasis on building brand loyalty, and this will not change in the coming years, Prudel commented.

The discussion also considered whether we are seeing the slow decline of traditional retail and the beginning of the dominance of e-commerce. It turns out that both sales channels work very well when they function together. The view of the still strong traditional trade was expressed by Michal Przybysz, Chief Digital Officer and e-commerce director at Super-Pharm, among others.

Retail is changing a lot, but contrary to many predictions even before the pandemic, stationary stores are not going away. The importance of online sales is growing all the time, but we see shoppers returning to stationary stores after lockdowns. In the post-pandemic reality, omnichannel is invariably gaining importance. This is the main element we have left after the pandemic and will stay with us for a long time. In this way, we are meeting the expectations of customers who appreciate top-notch service in all sales channels.

Michal Przybysz, Chief Digital Officer and e-commerce director at Super-Pharm

Looking to the future, conference participants pointed out that one of the key directions to compete in the market today is to securely migrate to the cloud, but also to data science and properly recognize and use the potential of artificial intelligence as a solution to support retail. On how to use AI to translate into increased e-commerce revenue levels and
customer satisfaction and was applicable on a large scale, was discussed by Maria Parysz, CEO of LogicAI Solutions.

The future of e-commerce is personalized shopping recommendations based on artificial intelligence. Currently, they still remain rare among online stores in Poland and around the world, which is why we aim to educate companies and customers about instant, ethical and sustainable recommendations. Their implementation does not have to be costly.

Maria Parysz, CEO of LogicAI Solutions.

Trade in 2050 - the knowns and the unknowns

One of the main topics both on the main stage and in the workshop rooms and during the networking was the topic devoted to future trends shaping trade in the long term. In a panel discussion titled. "Commerce in 2050 - a glimpse into the future," with international experts from Bundesverband Onlinehandel e.V., Carrefour Italia and Breuninger, considered in particular what shopping will look like in the middle of the 21st century. The panelists formulated an inspiring vision of commerce of the future, according to which commerce will become even more virtual than it is now, and buying will no longer be a process involving the consumer at every stage. We will also see a further, increasingly pronounced shift away from the need to own and towards a subscription/rental model of goods, and even towards self-production (thanks to home 3D printers). One expert drew the conclusion that in many sectors of commerce, sustainable products will gain in importance over cheap and perishable ones (e.g., fast fashion), and ethics and worldview issues will play an increasingly important role in purchasing decisions (e.g., looking for meat substitutes). The vision of the future of commerce lacked a place for cash, which, according to the panelists, will be completely supplanted by convenient and flexible forms of electronic payments. At the same time, all panelists agreed that ecology and sustainability will be the main trend that will significantly affect trade in 2050.

The CTD conference was held under the Honorary Patronage of the Mayor of Wroclaw.