David Bosshart: "The real battle in retail is no longer the logistics of space but the logistics of time"

The Gottlieb Duttweiler Institute, in collaboration with ETH Zurich, organised a panel discussion on "The End of Consumption" at the World Economic Forum in Davos. Here are the key statements from the panel.

The retail industry may face pulverization. Stores are about to become entertainment centres. New technologies and declining importance of property are responsible for the change. Today, we are facing the end of consumption as we know it. These are the findings of "The End of Consumption" study published by the GDI in cooperation with KPMG in 2019. They were also the topic of a panel discussion at this year’s World Economic Forum in Davos.

The panel was moderated by Chris Luebkeman, Advisor to the President and Executive Board at ETH Zurich. Among the participants were Monique Morrow, President and Co-Founder of The Humanized Internet, Stephan Fetsch, Partner, Deal Advisory-Valuation, EMA Head of Retail at KPMG, and David Bosshart, CEO of the Gottlieb Duttweiler Institute.

According to "The End of Consumption", the music industry is the blueprint for the future of retail. It has been completely transformed by streaming providers like Spotify or Apple Music. Consumers have long since ceased to see themselves as owners, but rather as users.

But what is consumption? "It starts with a need or desire and goes through a process, such as looking for and ultimately buying the goods," said David Bosshart at the beginning of the discussion. "Today, this process has been redefined. Everything is available to you directly and almost in real time. The real battle in retail is no longer the logistics of space but the logistics of time. Who can deliver faster? Consumers love convenience."

"I miss the ethics in this discussion," Monique Morrow pointed out. "Who develops the technology that's enabling this? We need to be aware of how and for what reason we create technology. We must be able to explain that reason. Who is watching whom? What does the governance model look like?"

Stephan Fetsch blew the same horn: "We need a neutral entity to step in and that might be what I call a regulatory government."

Of course, people will still have basic physical needs to be satisfied by commodities. But how desire for these goods is triggered, how the supply chain delivers these products, and how they get into the hands of the consumer are changing radically.

To the ETH blog entry