What Went Down at Shoptalk 2018

If you weren’t able to make it to last week’s Shoptalk, don’t worry—we’ve got you covered.

We were in attendance at the big event in Vegas, and the team came out of the massive four-day event with a whole lot of exciting info and insights to digest. From VR to grocery, the sessions covered a wide variety of retail-focused topics, meaning it was a great place to get the pulse on what’s happening in the industry today, and what insiders and experts are most looking forward to tomorrow.

Below, we dig into three big themes that kept coming up at Shoptalk 2018:

Remaining customer-centric in the face of evolving expectations.

Jeff Genelle of Macy’s talked about how the company is re-focusing on its customer to intelligently deliver more thoughtful and authentic experiences to them across the board. Amazon’s Dilip Kumar and Gianna Puerini discussed how they approach every new initiative and challenge with the customer’s wants and expectations in mind. And Ulta’s Mary Dillon spoke on the importance of staying on top of changing consumer behaviors, such as the growing desire for shared experiences among millennials. If there’s one challenge everyone in the industry seems to be tackling head on, it’s figuring out how to continuously keep the customer at the center of everything while staying ahead of their ever-evolving expectations, and doing it all at scale.

Keeping up with an ever-quickening pace.

Voice, AR, VR, AI—these aren’t just buzzwords anymore. Innovative technology is now officially an inextricable part of the retail experience, and businesses need to keep up or they risk getting left behind in the dust. We heard a lot about this at Shoptalk, where Houzz discussed the successes they’ve seen with augmented reality, while a panel on ‘radical transformation’ highlighted the accelerating pace of change in this new age of retail. Customers are interacting with retailers and brands via a growing number of channels, including voice, and experience-enhancing technologies are now part of many (if not most) retail environments. The time to start paying attention was yesterday—now is the time to jump in and keep up.

Connecting experiences across channels.

When it comes to omnichannel, Walmart is making big moves—and they spoke at length about their forward-thinking strategies at Shoptalk. Between the acquisition of digitally-native brands to house on Jet.com and the addition of 500 FedEx stores-within-a-store, the retail giant is ensuring it covers all customer touchpoints, digitally, in-store, and otherwise. Whether it’s helping to simplify returns for customers or stitching physical and online properties together so experiences become more seamless, the pressure to tackle omnichannel challenges is felt throughout the industry, by retailers small and large.

All in all, the content at this year’s Shoptalk was enlightening, thought-provoking, and inspiring. We learned a lot about the industry’s biggest trends and most pressing challenges, and we plan to make the most of these insights as we continue helping retailers and brands stay ahead of the curve.

For more on evolving consumer trends and emerging technologies, be sure to download our communication-focused consumer report: Bots, Text, and Voice: What Cuts Through the Clutter.