Learnings from Shoptalk 2023

Learnings from Shoptalk 2023

Because what happens in Vegas doesn’t have to stay in Vegas

As our team digests all the great learnings and to-dos from Shoptalk 2023, we wanted to share some of the highlights with you, the retail and commerce industry.

This year’s sessions covered a wide range of topics; everything from the expected omnichannel commerce and new store formats, ecommerce tactics, merchandising tools, supply chain and logistics to more innovative and fresh perspectives such as generative AI/ChatGTP, livestreaming, next-gen retail media offerings, sustainability initiatives, ESG and DEI.

New Applications of AI and Machine Learning

Most of the sessions at Shoptalk 2023 touched upon the role AI could play. Some sessions had executives talk about applying leading-edge AI and machine learning in specific areas of their business, whether that be in marketing, supply chain, or back office. They shared how AI is adding value, while also pointing out concerns (e.g., privacy, taking human jobs away, addressing complex requests) companies must keep in mind.

  • Generative AI was THE hot topic this year, that overshadowed last year’s themes like metaverse and Web3. Businesses are starting to test but the key will be to unlock how to use AI and ML to enhance customer experience and also save money for retailers and brands.
  • Some companies have significantly cut operational cost by using generative AI chatbot to replace customer service center. Others, including Lowe’s and Kroger, are using AI to help train sales associates.

Sustainable Tech Solutions

Sustainable approach and programs in commerce are no longer a fact, it's become a way to connect with customers' values and open a new revenue channel for some brands and retailers. In the session "Sustainable Tech Solutions", I moderated and shared some stats from the recently released Brand Resale Index (read more about that here).

  • 79% of brands include links to the resale site in the main navigation as a sign of brand integration.
  • 66% of brands provide specific information about the expected value of trade-ins on the resale site.
  • 25% allowing customers to combine purchases of new and pre-owned in the same cart.
  • Only 13% of brands integrate new and used products in search results on the mainline site.

The 4 tech solution founders/CEO panelists presented their technologies and solutions, then we went into a panel discussion on how companies can best plan, implement and measure initiatives to improve sustainability. When I asked how the panelists would define sustainability in retail commerce, Emily Gittins, Co-Founder & CEO of Archive said, "We try to think about sustainability as holistically as possible - everything from the raw materials, to production, to end of life." Because sustainability can be defined in so many different ways, there are myriad of initiatives that roll up as sustainability. According to Greg Petro, CEO of First Insight, "Typically, sustainability programs are actually being driven by the consumer to the C-suite, who are then responding. In some cases, we see C-suite drive it first, but that would be the exception." So, how can retailers and brands start? According to Mark Ong, Co-Founder & CEO of GoBolt, "Don't get analysis paralysis...just start somewhere. Maybe it's going back to the basics of 'think global, act local'". When asked about KPIs brands and retailers should track to measure their sustainability programs, Chantal Emmanuel, Co-Founder & CTO of LimeLoop suggests getting into the specifics, "Universally CO2, water, land use (trees), and oil. Then there needs to be individual work done to understand your unique impacts; for example, does your product’s end of life result in the introduction of microplastics into our streams? If you’ve opted for a recycle focused initiative, what percent of municipalities are equipped to recycle your materials and what percent are actually recycled?"

The session left attendees with lots of considerations and ideas for resale, using data for product intel, smart packaging, or optimizing the last mile.

Next-Generation Retail Media Offering

The retail media opportunity is massive and growing. Retail media networks (RMNs) are expected to generate over $52 billion in 2023, as a growing list of retailers launch and scale these offerings to boost their ecommerce profitability.

  • Companies favor retail media to traditional media because RMNs can reach target segments of category consumers and also provide first-party data. The first-party data can then be used to target further making the RMNs even more effective.
  • It’s also a win-win for retailers: they can develop a deeper relationship with their partners/suppliers, while using their customer traffic for high margin revenue.
  • Digital is often the first place your customers see you (the brand) so be present. Physical space can be used to retain your customers. Customers today do not shop in a singular location, so we need to show up with intention.

We shared some of the topics that were more innovative here but contact us to learn about all the other commerce-related topics!

MARK YOUR CALENDARS: Shoptalk 2024 will take place again at Mandalay Bay in Vegas from March 17-20th. Oh, and they announced a 2nd Shoptalk event, Shoptalk Fall 2024, which will take place October 8-10th in Chicago.

Bernardine Wu

Written by: Bernardine Wu, Executive MD

Bernardine Wu is the Executive Managing Director of OSF Digital’s Strategy group. She is an established thought leader in the digital commerce world with years of operational and strategic success in helping retailers’ and brands’ digital and omnichannel growth strategies.