Change – dare I say transformation – is happening in retail at an ever increasing pace. The retailers who can’t keep up with the rate of change are taking a hit in the form of store closings, reduced traffic, and sales declines. New and innovative retailers are popping up everywhere, but in formats that are not immediately recognizable. And of course the elephant in the room—Amazon—is sweeping into every retail category, taking a chunk out of the pie and leaving behind a graveyard of old stores. Most retailers simply can’t keep up. Most don’t understand the growing chasm of where they are today and where they need to be tomorrow if they hope to survive, let alone thrive.
What retailers need today is to band together. To network, share innovative ideas and successes, to build and learn from each other as we all face this new age of retail.
What is Shoptalk?
In three short years, Shoptalk has become the world’s largest conference for retail and ecommerce innovation. “Shoptalk covers the rapid evolution of how consumers discover, shop and buy—from new technologies and business models to the latest trends in consumer behaviors, preferences and expectations.” And it does all of this with a flair and style that drives interactions, networking, and information sharing.
I attended Shoptalk in March 2017. Three things stood out for me last year as to why this conference is head and shoulders above the rest.
First – The conference was well attended. The audience included a wide variety of executives from well-known brands, which made for very compelling conversations. I met dozens of executives chasing similar opportunities and open to sharing their stories.
Second – The format drives meaningful interaction points with vendors and especially with other participants. I bumped into dozens of retail and ecommerce colleagues who I’ve worked with in the past and was able to have curated sessions where we talked shop and shared insights.
Third – the content was first-class with speakers that were executives from the very companies leading the retail transformation. One panel that was particularly informative was on mobile commerce and engagement. At this panel, executives from Unilever, Perry Ellis and Talbot’s discussed their successes and setbacks in growing mobile commerce. Keynote speeches from Amazon and Houzz told the story of how consumer product discovery is increasingly moving to new channels, such as search, social and even marketplaces like Amazon as first stops for product research. I walked away with a plan across all aspects of delivering the customer experience – people, process, and tools – to up our game.
At Blueport, we help furniture retailers understand and embrace the new world where digital is the center of a successful retail strategy. As marketers, we embrace the tactics that best drive traffic to physical stores and online websites regardless of the channel. As merchants, we embrace the endless aisle opportunity that the web offers to beautifully display every product (in every size, color and configuration) on our websites. As seasoned players in the furniture space, we understand that the customer experience needs to be consistent across every channel, every device, and every touch point.
Attending conferences like Shoptalk allows us to network with retailers from a variety of verticals and bring those ideas and learnings to furniture retailers, whether our platform is driving their best-in-class ecommerce site or we’re providing our expertise to develop a furniture ecommerce strategy.
Bottom line, I will attend Shoptalk again this year to take the pulse of what’s going on in the marketplace, understand how consumer behavior is evolving, and see how competitors are adapting accordingly. None of us have all of the answers. None of us want to be left behind. So the quest is to continue to listen and continue to learn. Armed with fresh ideas, fresh connections and fresh context, I look forward to helping Blueport’s clients drive the right customer experience for the road ahead.
Attending Shoptalk? Let’s set up time to meet in person and talk furniture retail. If you can’t attend, contact us to set up a call and talk about the key insights from Shoptalk 2018 and how you can keep pace with the rapid changes all around us. And be sure to put Shoptalk on your calendar for next year!