Just three years ago, Shoptalk was a fledgling conference devoted to the future of retail. Apparently, the future is now, because the 2019 edition was a sold-out affair, with 8,400 attendees crowding into the Venetian, Las Vegas.
Our team attended the conference, and we were amazed at the vast cross-section of attendees that revealed how quickly retail in changing. Once focused on direct-to-consumer startups, the event now attracts retail behemoths from Walmart to Nordstrom.
Here are some of the key trends we saw running through the conference’s keynotes, sessions and exhibits.
- Traditional distinctions are dissolving. It is fascinating to see how, in the digital age, the distinctions like startups vs. established brands and brick-and-mortar vs. native e-commerce are dissolving. Instead, brands—regardless of size or sector—are all focused on delivering the same thing: personalized experiences across any and every touchpoint.
- Personalization at scale—a single concept with endless possibilities. It was inspiring to see the sheer creativity with which brands are embracing the idea of personalization, from interactive in-store displays and personalized in-store promotion to AI-based sentiment tracking. Each brand seemed to have its own way of defining what personalization at scale looks like for them and their customers.
- Unified customer data is the constant. Despite this diversity, the fuel for personalization at scale remains the same—unified customer data. Forrester’s Brendan Witcher had a particularly compelling Q&A with Sarah Engel of Lily Pulitzer, Edward Park of Guess, Tami Mohoney of Modell’s. For these brands, data is igniting creative new ways to unify and personalize customers’ online and in-store experiences.
One thing is for sure, Shoptalk has quickly become one of the must-attend events for retailers in the digital age.