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4 Takeaways From Shoptalk 2019

8,400 of retail’s senior leaders converged on Las Vegas to attend this year’s Shoptalk. The conference showcased 286 speakers, 100+ sessions, and powerful keynotes from CEOs of Pinterest, Lowes, Dollar Shave Club, and Nordstrom to name a few. The content from the conference covered the latest trends, technologies, and challenges within the industry. Below are four of major takeaways from the conference:

  1. Artificial (or Augmented) Intelligence for Retail is Here – Get Onboard or Get Left Behind

Gone are the days when “big data” was a mythological creature. It is now the new norm within businesses across retail and obscene amounts of data are being produced every second. The amount of data produced will only increase exponentially with 5G and the Internet of Things. It’s clear humans are no longer capable of digesting all of this information on our own – cue machine learning and artificial intelligence.

How retailers are utilizing these advanced data analytics are broad and span personalization, operations, supply chain, pricing, inventory, copy writing, fashion photography, and the list goes on. “If you aren’t addressing AI, you’re behind.” 1  A lot of AI isn’t sexy but will redefine every aspect of how business is done front HQ to the sales floor.

  1. Key Facets of the Customer Experience Revolve Around Personalization, Authenticity, and Community

The most overused words during the conference were “experience”, “journey”, “funnel” and “customer-centric.” These buzzwords are both vague and possess endless meanings depending on who you ask. They also hint at the scary thought that as retailers we still struggle to understand the emotional and sometimes seemingly irrational decisions that our customers make.

Several words that did stand out during the conference with successful retailers were personalization, authenticity, and community. These words epitomize emotional responses that customers are seeking and provide clear goalpost for retailers. Remember, “customers don’t fall in love with business models”2, they fall in love with a retailer that’s able to connect with them at a deeper level.

Put more directly, winning retailers understand their customer—losing retailers aspire to create an experience.

  1. Physical Stores are Becoming More Critical than Ever Before

Physical retail and the ever mentioned “retail apocalypse” could be heard in multiple sessions throughout Shoptalk. Two clear consensuses emerged. First, “physical retail isn’t going away.” 3 Second targeted channel strategies are becoming a thing of the past.

Our customers live and “exist in the physical world.” 2 Thinking about customers in only an e-commerce or a physical channel is flawed. Customers move seamlessly between all possible retail mediums in order to best inform and decide on what they want to purchase. Targeting all customers through only e-commerce or stores assumes that they aren’t connected, which isn’t true.  As an industry, we can point to figures that show there is a correlation or halo-effects with a store and the e-com sales in that geographic area. This is part of the reason why companies like The RealReal and GREATS are looking to stores to help fuel their growth strategies.

What do you know—stores still have a place in the world of retail!

  1. Data Privacy Regulations are Beginning to Become More Top of Mind

The current gold rush for data and analytics is clearly underway, but with regulations like GDPR and CCPA regulations that will cover the continental U.S. are likely soon to follow. While data privacy and regulations came up within a few sessions, the future ripple effects that GDPR, CCPA, and the impact of public sentiment could cause were only just becoming top of mind. Retailers should consider hedging their bets and add data privacy into their overall data strategy.

In my last blog on Harris Poll’s Reputation Quotient, I noted Facebook’s precipitous drop from consumers’ grace by violating their trust. Retailers be warned.

1Russell Scherwin, CMO, Watson Commerce at IBM

2Rebecca Kaden, Managing Partner at Union Square Ventures

3Erik Nordstrom, Co-President at Nordstrom

Co-Authored by Neil Stern and Brad Koszuta for Forbes

 

McMillanDoolittle

McMillanDoolittle

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McMillanDoolittle is a premier international retail consultancy bringing deep experience with world class clients. Our partners have extensive experience interpreting the retail marketplace and converting insights into successful strategies. We help clients develop innovative solutions in strategy development, the customer experience, new concepts, brand performance, retail performance improvement and retail intelligence services.

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