After two years of being held virtually, in response to Covid-19 related concerns, Shoptalk finally came back to an in-person format.
Held in Las Vegas, the “Retail’s Big Reunion” brought together thousands of professionals during four days of numerous panels, forums, and informal conversations.
These are a few of our key takeaways:
Omnichannel: a new necessity for a flawless customer experience
One of the main takeaways was that “people love stores.”, despite the e-commerce growth, shared Anna Barber, Partner at M13.
Innovations like Live Shopping and Metaverse Shopping grew during the Covid-19 pandemic, but these technological advances weren’t enough to eliminate the physical store concept. In reality, physical stores came out reinforced and stronger than ever.
Proof of that is that as soon as COVID-19 related restrictions got lifted, stores got packed with hungry customers who yearned for the in-person contact unique to physical retailers. “Consumers increasingly demand an omnichannel approach to their favorite brands, but in which physical stores play a central role when associated with proximity and convenience.” noted Ricardo R. Silva, Head of Marketing at Reckon.ai.
The Beginning of a Business Model Convergence?
Long are the days when there was a massive dichotomy between digital and physical stores’ business models.
Physical stores center their activities on adding value and maximizing profit occupying a central role for retailers. Despite this, these stores used to be looked at as liabilities, but it is now clear that they are value and experience thrusts that drive businesses forward. There is no influencer as powerful as being able to see and touch a product directly.
In e-commerce, growth was and still is the key success metric. However, there’s now an ever-growing pressure to present proven strategies to generate profits, bringing these formerly opposite business models closer together.
Faster, Faster, Faster!
In terms of store operations, there seems to be an industry-wide focus on providing a faster experience to the customer. “When I talk to store managers, it is very clear for them they are losing business because of queues. They will tell me that they see possible customers coming by, looking at the queues, and go away.” — Raghu Mahadevan (7-Eleven, Chief Digital Officer)
In attempts to accomplish that, transactions have to be carried out as expeditiously as possible through:
- Minimized queues;
- Easier choices;
- Faster and frictionless
These three steps can be accomplished through innovative concepts that present stores as fully automated, customer-focused systems that allow checkout-free, ‘grab and go’ experiences. Removing or reducing the role of the cashier while giving back the power to the customer via self-service options is a solution to keep an eye on, having the most relevancy in food retail, where speed is the focus and only then personalization. “There is a clear trend that in groceries the whole shopping experience needs to focus first on becoming faster and frictionless and only after on customization.” (Paulo Ribeiro, CTO Reckon.ai)
Loyalty as Data
The ability to collect data from shoppers is now centered on loyalty.
In a world where cookies are losing relevance, the focus has to shift to the data users consciously share through their user preferences, but, above all, purchasing habits.
“Loyalty leads the way to personalization” noted Ricardo R. Silva, Head of Marketing at Reckon.ai.
Collecting and compiling data over long periods allows for a better understanding of whom the client is, making it easier to adapt to their needs.
One of the event’s major topics and one that especially resonated with us is the role of women in leadership positions and female entrepreneurship.
This stride toward greater equality was evident in the number of female attendees, speakers, and speeches. With an even split of 50/50 between male and female speakers, the event served as a showcase of what the future of the industry will look like in the coming years.
One of the most remarkable messages in the event focused on how “the female point of view and leadership can open new perspectives and business opportunities”. (Ana Pinto, CEO at Reckon.ai).
Other female executives, like Stacey Brown, President of Retail Products and Chief Customer Officer at Walgreens, presented her unique business vision as she positions the brand as a health facilitator present and focused on local communities. Also, Lauren Wiener, Managing Director, and Partner at Boston Consulting Group presented how “Retail Media is Reshaping Retail” concerning the end of cookies as a source of data.
According to data provided by Shoptalk, women account for 32% of the retail industry board members and 24% of senior leadership roles. Despite these numbers remaining low, examples like the ones present at the conference can serve as catalyzers for greater change and equality.