Insights for Retail Innovators from Shoptalk

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Identifying the critical trends that are shaping retail (short- and long-term) is an art supported by science. And that’s what Shoptalk does every year to build insightful content to guide retail executives in navigating an unpredictable, dynamic digital marketplace. All retail, whether legacy physical brands or the digital natives, face the same macro issues that keep everyone awake at night. The operations that once separated legacy from digital brands have merged, and it takes some brave, bold, and innovative thinking to chart the course forward in a unified model. The wild card is the consumer. Customers are undeniably calling the shots, but inconsistent in matching their declared public positions with their behavior. Decoding, deconstructing, and defining these attitudes and shopping patterns is the foundation of the content for this year’s gathering in Las Vegas.

Driving operational efficiency is even more important in a tough economic climate. Identifying the next game-changing technologies to unlock savings across the business, from new fulfillment capabilities to digital twins to inventory management solutions, is based on strategic needs to ultimately deliver customer-centric profitability.

We checked in with Krystina Gustafson, Shoptalk’s SVP of Content and Advisory Board Chair, to get a preview of the critical business challenges facing retail executives in the near future. Her team curates the content based on research, conversations, keeping a pulse on the business, what’s trending and what’s making news. She focuses on concepts that will become the narrative arc of what’s most relevant to the industry right now. She says that the Shoptalk agenda is complex and may feel hard to decipher a first glance. The larger story focuses on the now, the new, and the next — presented as five interrelated themes.

What Does Best-in-Class Shopper Engagement Look Like?

How shoppers search for and discover products is changing. There are a myriad of platforms and capabilities that companies need to ensure they’re present where their shoppers are, including social commerce, visual search, livestreaming and shoppable video, and generative AI. Best in class typically refers to the digital evolution and how to infuse joy into the online experience to emulate the in-store experience. Engagement focuses on how to talk about how people find products and the growing importance of zero-party and first-party data in building customer relationships.

What Emerging Channels Will Deliver Growth for My Business?

Identifying new channels to help retail businesses find growth goes beyond the obvious and short-term. Ecommerce, marketplaces, and DTC will strategically and commercially evolve. But forward-thinking retailers go the next steps further to understand how the latest in Web 3.0 and the metaverse, as well as how new offerings like Retail Media Networks and white-label services are creating new revenue streams and boosting profits. Walmart will be on hand to dive into how their media program is a poster child for this emerging revenue stream for retailers.

How Do I Deliver an Outstanding Store Experience? 

What is the role of the store? How are leading companies reimagining their stores to deliver unified, seamless, and engaging experiences to shoppers? The impact customer expectations have on merchandising, store operations and design, and the role technologies like computer vision, robotics and augmented reality will play, are critical ingredients in reimagining a store experience that is relevant and memorable. A great example is Brilliant Earth, a digital native fine jewelry brand that seamlessly integrates the online and in-store experience with great customized service.

Which Tech investments Will Boost My Revenue and Profitability?

Driving operational efficiency is even more important in a tough economic climate. Identifying the next game-changing technologies to unlock savings across the business, from new fulfillment capabilities to digital twins to inventory management solutions, is based on strategic needs to ultimately deliver customer-centric profitability. The role of the CFOs is evolving to become more digitally savvy in understanding how automation can power more efficient operations resulting in a better customer experience. Target’s CFO will discuss tech solutions and experts will address the potential of generative AI to help create personalized marketing messaging and customer service at scale. And Jeffrey Katzenberg of Dreamworks fame will share insights on his new venture WndrCo that invests in tech solutions that can change an entire industry.

What Organizational Changes Will Help Me Win?

Always a popular subject for Shoptalk attendees, what is the role of leadership and adoption of innovation. Should it be aggressive or measured in pursuing tech talent? How does management address the power shift in organizations from leadership to employees? And most importantly, how to maintain a business culture of excellence with compassion, empathy, and an understanding of work-life balance. Successful businesses must keep evolving their structures to enable digital transformation and not be left behind. Savvy organizations are breaking down barriers and processes to share data and insights across divisions, discover tools to better equip their workforce, and get firsthand advice from leaders on how to inspire and enable their teams during disruptions. Dave Kimbell, CEO of Ulta Beauty and Mary Dillon, CEO of Foot Locker will share their leadership principles and how to create a workplace culture based on mutual respect.

When you consider how much information is available to predict how to manage profitable retail in a digital marketplace, it’s critical to have a trusted source of information. Shoptalk provides that with a carefully curated edit of the trends and foundational shifts. The content is designed to bring information to retailers and brands that is useful right now. The five themes are just a snapshot of all the rich content at this year’s event, as Krystina says, “We want to get your wheels turning to get you going!”

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