It’s been a whirlwind several days in the desert with retail visionaries, veterans, and very enthusiastic marketers at Shoptalk 2019. While it’s tough to capture everything that occurred this year, we’ve gathered our key learnings and favorite quotes from the conference.

How Social Commerce is Changing the Retail Game

All of it points to one thing: there is no one-size-fits-all solution to what’s happening—and going to continue happening—in the retail industry.

Personalization is the goal

The buzzword of Shoptalk 2019 was personalization. Here’s what a few brand speakers had to say about the importance of data and “knowing thy customers.”

Sarah Engel, VP of marketing and creative at Lilly Pulitzer, said understanding customer data is both an art and science. She said you need to build in processes for collecting data needed across customer services, shopper sentiment, in store, and online.

“Democratize your data, don’t weaponize it,” Engel explained. “Getting to action on the data is the most important piece [to personalization].”

Retail marketers need to consider what it means to be personalized in messaging. Using data about who already shops at your stores and online will give you a better idea of who is more important to your business.

Mike Lackman, CEO of Trade Coffee, admitted to using Zillow to learn about customers’ houses and lifestyles. This allowed him to better advise on targeting consumers who would help scale the business and meet customers where they are online and in life.

Andrea Dorigo, SVP of global retail at Estee Lauder, detailed the efforts to personalize messaging to consumers using influencers who can tell the brand’s story best during the digital discovery phase of the customer journey.

Dave Kimball, CMO of Ulta Beauty, shared the brand’s philosophy of “[Customers] don’t come to Ulta Beauty to get beautiful. You come because you already are.”

Retail marketers need to consider what it means to be personalized in messaging. Using data about who already shops at your stores and online will give you a better idea of who is more important to your business. You may find it’s not who you think.

The more you personalize your messaging to what your core customer needs, the less you’ll need to throw incentives at the general public. For example, the right message and perfectly priced coupon code could turn a once-in-a-blue-moon customer into an email subscriber.

Goodbye innovation labs

One thing that was apparent at this year’s conference was the decrease of innovation-lab mentions. It seems that while personalization and data were at the forefront of retailers’ minds, the innovative, experimental side of retail has diminished. Or has it?

Rather than relying on internal (or external) think-tank labs to test new concepts in controlled environments, retailers are moving to using their innovative thinking in real-world settings. As Mike Smith, CEO of Stitchfix, put it, “Your experiments should fail 75 percent of the time. You can’t get to the hockey stick unless you give people a lot of room to test and learn.”

Hello innovative execution

If innovation labs are out, innovative thinking and execution of new ideas are this year’s hot topic.

David Isbitski, chief evangelist for Amazon Alexa and Echo, said, “I believe that nothing beats speed. Hence, why mobile beats web and why voice will win, too. There’s a utility that comes from saying, ‘Alexa, reorder …‘”

Another common theme of Shoptalk: that corporate culture may need to change in order for some retailers to truly embrace the omnichannel experience strategies.

Isbitski elaborated on the idea that future generations will look back and think we’re all ridiculous, staring at smartphone screens when they have the ability to simply do anything via voice-enabled technology.

Art Peck, CEO of Gap, explained where the staple retail brand is looking to innovate its in-store experiences: smarter locations. In fact, Gap opened a smaller store right next to a Trader Joe’s last year and Peck says it’s converting shoppers at 2-2.5x the rate of Gap stores in malls with less foot traffic.

As Engel of Lilly Pulitzer put it, “Data isn’t fully utilized or truly valuable until an organization values intellectual curiosity.” It’s through data that new ideas and innovative thinking can expand the retail industry. “Be obsessed with your consumer.”

“Algorithms and stylists … humans and data science working together—both being equal—the human component is extremely important to us,” said Smith of Stitchfix. “Giving people the opportunity to be mini-CEOs fuels innovation.”

That idea segues into another common theme of Shoptalk: that corporate culture may need to change in order for some retailers to truly embrace the omnichannel experience strategies.

Department stores are staging a comeback

As we’ve heard in the recent weeks, long-standing retailers have struggled. The good news: some have accepted that change is inevitable, and they’re ready to lead the conversations again.

Paula Price, CFO of Macy’s, admitted that, “We have to disrupt ourselves.” The retailer is looking to reinvent the customer experience quickly within its stores, and it wants to be considered as an “amazing place to shop, to work, and to partner with.”

Hint: the key word there is partner, but we’ll get back to that in a bit.

Erik Nordstrom, the retailer’s president, owned up to the shortcomings of the brand and detailed the need to ensure the Nordstrom department store doesn’t become a thing of the past. Nordstrom admitted that the retailer hasn’t moved fast enough to accommodate for the rapid change of the industry.

With a shifting mindset, the staple department store names could be making a comeback to the top.

Key tactic: partnerships

Circling back on the word partner, it’s a keyword with a lot of meanings.

Partnerships are thriving in retail right now as we see a shift from direct-to-consumer brands being purchased by bigger names (we see you Dollar Shave Club). But partnerships come in different forms.

Guido Campello, CEO and creative director of Cosabella, told Ad Age at Shoptalk that “We’re in a world of collaborations and humanity [and] one of the fastest and easiest and great things to do is to partner.”

Partnerships are thriving in retail right now as we see a shift from direct-to-consumer brands being purchased by bigger names (we see you Dollar Shave Club). But partnerships come in different forms.

As Nordstrom detailed the Q4 shortcomings of 2018, he emphasized that the company is seeking brands to partner with and sell their products in stores, where customers still make purchases.

In addition, it’s important to consider your partnerships in technology and advertising agencies when adapting to your consumers’ needs. That’s why Shoptalk’s exhibition floor is filled with booths from technology, SaaS, and marketing companies.

DEG was located at booth No. 3114 this year, and we enjoyed the opportunity to speak with retailers of all shapes, sizes, and products.

If you weren’t able to stop by, we’d still like to chat about how we can help you implement the new ideas you heard about throughout the conference. We can even help you discover ideas you may have never thought to do.

The future of retail

So, what can we expect for retail? Every retailer is considering the omnichannel experience for its customers. Yet, it’s not the same for all.

4 Ways Brands Can Avoid the Post‑Holiday Customer Drop-Off

You may be a direct-to-consumer brand or veteran retailer needing a great in-store experience, key data insights paired with the right strategy, or a marketing partner to launch a groundbreaking creative campaign. Your solution isn’t going to look the same as others, because your brand has its unique challenges and customers. Focus on them, while keeping your eyes on the prize of a seamless, cross-channel experience.

In addition, Instacart’s Chief Business Officer Nilam Ganenthiran said our favorite thing of the entire conference when he pointed out, “It is a misnomer to think there is an online and an offline customer. There is just a customer. The best retailers think of the shopping experience as just one shopping experience.”

We couldn’t agree more. Because when you consider every channel and way you can shop these days, it’s all one experience. One complete experience that transcends a singular medium, and requires multiple tactics and messages to best meet customers where they are—online and in stores—in the moments that matter for them and your brand.

Keep in touch.

Stay up-to-date on the latest digital trends, DEG news, and upcoming events by subscribing to DEG's newsletter.

Subscribe

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

Comments