Last week, more than 8,000 retail industry professionals made their way home from Las Vegas, Nevada. You’d be hard pressed to find someone who solely spent the week playing blackjack—this group came from one of the leading shows in retail and ecommerce—Shoptalk 2019.
Beyond the glamour and appeal of the city of Las Vegas, Shoptalk enticed attendees with a peek into the “future of retail,” delivered in keynotes from some of the industry’s top players and brands, demos and various exhibits. Reflecting on all that was learned at this year’s event, a few key concepts came up again and again throughout the show. Here are my top three takeaways from this year’s Shoptalk conference.
It’s not the death of retail, but rather the evolution
The news often reads like an obituary page for retail, as more and more retailers close up shop as their customers head online. The rise of big players such as Amazon has forced the entire industry to evolve or be left behind.
The president and CEO of Gap, Art Peck, shared that his company, an American staple since 1969, is flipping its long-standing model by closing more than 200 stores that no longer make sense and opening a slew of new locations with an emphasis on solving access and service voids. For example, the company has decided to implement inventory-tracking technology to reduce clearance items in-store and deliver the right products to places with the most demand.
Gap was one of the many brands, including Saks and Lord & Taylor, that talked about prioritizing personalization and localization online and in-store, with the ultimate goal of enhancing the customer experience. We should expect to see brands and retailers continue to pivot their retail strategies to adjust to changing consumer shopping behavior and technology innovations.
An increasingly experiential economy
The in-store experience is a climbing factor in attracting and retaining customers. Those who attended Shoptalk saw the changes reflected in the show itself—attendees could get haircuts, blow outs, their makeup done, new professional headshots, shoes shined, tarot card readings or even a back massage.
The concept of incorporating experiences that complement shopping is overtaking the broader retail industry. co-president of Nordstrom, Eric Nordstrom, told attendees about a relatively new store concept called Nordstrom Local: scalable, service-oriented stores without merchandise. Nordstrom Local will offer “shoppers” onsite alterations, tuxedo rentals, personal stylists, gift wrapping, buy online pick up in-store options, barbers, cobblers, Goodwill drop offs and even to-go food options. Nordstrom’s advice was simple, “do what the customer wants, and you’ll win.”
Similarly, DSW has opened a pilot store in Columbus, Ohio, centered around new services including a nail bar. They shared that millennials account for 55 percentof the nail bar service sales. Industry stalwart, Macy’s, outlined their own experiential initiatives, aimed at improving both in-store and mobile experiences. Anticipate in-store interactive stations, namely in the fragrance department.
Experiential retail is becoming an integral part of customer satisfaction. Major retailers and direct-to-consumer brands alike are thinking about how to build brand affinity and connections through more than just sales and social media.
Navigating consumer data
Many organizations are faced with too much, too little, or the wrong kind of data to make pivotal changes. One way that companies are taking a data-driven approach to success is through artificial emotional intelligence. As consumers tend to make purchase decisions based on emotion rather than logic, digital marketers, such as Persado, are working to better identify this. The company is partnering with Dell to use machine learning to test variations of emotional website copy against more practical copy, allowing them to measure copy effectiveness with mathematical certainty.
Some companies bank on their customer data to satisfy consumers. Trade Coffee, for instance, connects coffee drinkers with coffee roasters and has been using customer data to create personalized experiences. The company asks shoppers to answer a survey about their coffee experiences and preferences post-purchase, and, based on their feedback, provides them with a personalized subscription offering. Being prescriptive has led to 20 percent higher conversion rates and an increase in customer lifetime value. Using consumer data to inform different elements of the consumer shopping journey is an ongoing challenge for brands and retailers, but one they must face head-on.
Leaving Shoptalk 2019, it’s clear that the future of retail is not bleak. In fact, it’s undergoing a massive evolution that should be exciting, not discouraging, to brands and retailers. Seeing some of America’s most iconic retailers transform and rise to the occasion of digital transformation is inspiring. We are excited to see where these trends take retail and what we will be talking about come time for Shoptalk 2020.
Bazaarvoice provides ratings and reviews technology to 207 of the Top 1000 online retailers in North America, according to Top 500Guide.com.