We’re steaming full-speed ahead into retail industry event season, and next up on the docket is a doozy: Shoptalk, billed as the world’s largest conference for retail and ecommerce innovation. This year’s event takes place March 18th-21st at the Venetian in Las Vegas, Nevada, and it promises to dig into all of those same big themes we’ve already been discussing at length this year, from AI and voice-activated commerce to the challenges of ‘omnification’ and the redefining of customer loyalty.There are a ton of sessions at this year’s Shoptalk, all of which promise to be informative, interesting, and relatable for everyone in the retail community. From how to successfully market to Gen Z, to the current state of retail in Latin America, the topics certainly run the gamut and cover every interest and category.To simplify the process of deciding where to go when, we’ve narrowed the full list down to these six sessions that are at the top of our list—and that we think should top yours, too:
- “Voice-Activated Commerce,” 9:45-10:25 a.m., Track 1: By far the hottest topic of the year, voice-activated devices—along with the opportunities and challenges they pose to retailers—is of course on the agenda at this innovation-focused industry event. Led by Google Director of Global Business Development, Retail & Shopping Michael Haswell and Founder and CEO of voice AI platform Voysis Peter Cahill, the panel will discuss how the rise of voice technologies is currently impacting (and is poised to impact even further) commerce and the customer experience across the board. Helping retailers stay ahead of this ecommerce channel (r)evolution is one of our big focus points this year, so we’re hoping this session will raise some relevant points and give everyone in attendance plenty to think about.
- “Omnichannel and Seamless Customer Experiences,” 4:30-5:10 p.m., Track 2: Another hot topic this year is the omnichannel experience—or more specifically, how to execute an omnichannel strategy that successfully stitches all of a customer’s online and offline touchpoints together. This particular panel will feature Rafeh Masood, Chief Digital Officer at BJ’s Wholesale Club, Ulta Beauty’s SVP of Strategic Marketing, CRM, and Loyalty Eric Messerschmidt, and Best Buy’s President of Ecommerce Allison Peterson. The experienced group of retailers is set to discuss how they efficiently manage inventory across digital and physical touchpoints, the rising popularity of BOPIS (buy online pickup in-store), and what they’re doing to build a seamless omnichannel experience for their customers.
- “The Retailer Perspective: Adapting to Changing Consumer Preferences,” 5:15-5:55 p.m., Track 3: One of the biggest challenges that retailers face today is figuring out how to keep up with ever-evolving consumer expectations and preferences. It seems that from one minute to the next, even, there’s some new communication channel, omnichannel experience, or ecommerce trend that retailers not only need to immediately wrap their minds around, but execute on with precision and care. Featuring President of Nordstrom.com Ken Worzel, Levi Strauss & Co.’s EVP & President of Global Retail Carrie Ask, and Billy May, CEO of Sur La Table, this panel will discuss how to tackle these lightning-fast changes in consumer behavior. From more experiential physical spaces to more seamless digital ecommerce experiences, this panel is sure to touch on big consumer trends that everyone in the room can relate to and learn from.
One of the biggest challenges that retailers face today is figuring out how to keep up with ever-evolving consumer expectations and preferences.
- “Leaders at Global Brands on the Future of Ecommerce,” 9:45-10:25 a.m., Track 1: It wouldn’t be a retail conference with a lot of ecommerce-focused talk, and based on the caliber and industry clout of the featured speakers, we think this session around the future of digital shopping experiences just might take the cake. Chief Ecommerce Officer of Samsonite Charlie Cole joins Levi Strauss & Co.’s EVP & President of Global Ecommerce Marc Rosen to talk about how their respective businesses are approaching ecommerce as an ever-growing channel, and what other retailers can do to better connect with customers by developing more fulfilling and seamless digital experiences. Having helped to build such successful ecommerce businesses themselves, we can’t wait to hear what these industry experts have to say on the subject.
- “Building Engaged Communities,” 5:15-5:55 p.m., Track 3: In today’s digital-first, convenience-led world, the definition of customer loyalty is changing. It’s more important now than ever that retailers find ways to emotionally connect with their buyers and inspire them to keep coming back time and time again. One powerful way to do so is by building an engaged community around your brand, and this session will discuss what retailers can do to make that happen. The sessions panelists—Mara McCune, VP of Brand at e.l.f. Beauty, Global Brand President at Aerie Jennifer Foyle, and Founder of LoveCrafts Edward Griffith—will share stories about how they worked to establish loyal followings, and offer advice for how others can better engage their customer bases to build real communities of fans.
It’s more important now than ever that retailers find ways to emotionally connect with their buyers and inspire them to keep coming back time and time again.
- “Understanding the AI Revolution,” 10:20-11:00 a.m., Track 3: While we already covered voice specifically, we also think it’s important that everyone attending this year’s Shoptalk learn as much as they can about how AI is currently, and will continue, impacting the retail industry. From customer service chatbots to better inventory management systems, machine learning technology is only getting smarter, and anyone who ignores this reality will most definitely be left behind in the dust. This session, hosted by Sentient Technologies Co-Founder and CEO Babak Hodjat and Shoptalk Content Director Krystina Gustafson, will offer an overview of AI, its potential for changing how we live our day-to-day lives, and how it’s altering the traditional retail landscape.
If you’re attending this year’s Shoptalk, we hope you check out at least one of these six exciting sessions, and don’t forget to come say hi to the Narvar team at Booth ET10. Ready to learn even more about what the future of customer experience looks like? Book a meeting with one of our post-purchase experts and find out how your brand can start delivering more authentic, personal, and thoughtful experiences.
Heather is Senior Content Marketing Manager at Narvar and has been working in the SF tech world for over 6 years. She has a bachelor's degree from CSU Long Beach and an MFA in writing from California College of the Arts.