Shoptalk wants to help retailers who are looking to invest in new technologies decide how to spend that money wisely, and also motivate attendees with success stories of brands and retailers effectively implementing new technologies. This article is published in the March edition of Internet Retailer Magazine.

NOTE: Shoptalk 2020 has been rescheduled to Sept. 14-17 in Las Vegas.

As ecommerce grows increasingly competitive, retailers need to find more ways to tailor their sites, apps, stores and entire businesses to entice shoppers to pull out their pocketbooks.

Often, attracting customers involves utilizing advancements in technology. As a result, many retailers are beefing up their technology spending to remain competitive. In fact, 80.6% of retailers plan to increase their technology spending over the next year, according to an August 2019 Digital Commerce 360 survey of 160 retailers.

At Shoptalk 2020 in Las Vegas, exhibitors and speakers will detail the latest technological developments within ecommerce to help retailers understand the new and innovative technologies they should be investing in now.






Tech startups take the stage

For example, part of the Emerging Technology Spotlight track will feature 26 early stage startup companies with less than $5 million in funding that represent innovations in retail technology. Each company’s founder and/or CEO will have four minutes to present the company’s technology solution and explain how it solves critical industry challenges.

Speakers in the Emerging Technology Spotlight track include Sophie Howe, CEO and co-founder of Xesto, a spatial computing artificial intelligence startup based in Toronto. Xesto is creating a mobile scanning tool that helps consumers use their smartphones to measure themselves so they purchase the correct size online. The company intends to reduce losses for retailers, which often offer free returns, and to save shoppers the hassle of returning products that don’t fit.


The track will also host:

  • Victoria Peppiatt, co-founder and chief operating officer at Phrasee, which provides AI-powered copywriting technology to brands, including eBay Inc., Groupon Inc., and Virgin Atlantic Airways Ltd.
  • Liat Zakay, founder and CEO of visual search and style recommendations platform Donde Search.
  • Lauren Snyder, vice president of customer success at AnyRoad, which helps retailers and brands, including The Michaels Co. and Tabasco, create brand champions and long-term loyalty through experiences such as classes, events, workshops and meetups.

Technology has never been more important to retailers’ operations. And retailers increasingly trust technology to the experts. Often, they do that by leaning on vendors. For example, 66.0% of Digital Commerce 360’s Top 1000 retailers use a vendor for their ecommerce platforms. 84.2% use a vendor for email marketing. And 79.2% use a vendor for personalization services. Retailers are especially likely to hire vendors in areas like personalization and marketing that are continually changing based on the data brands can gather.

Online sales are growing at a rapid clip. U.S. nonstore retail sales grew at a record rate for December and rose 13.9% in 2019. And, in June, online shopping for the first time overtook grocery stores and restaurants to become the second-biggest chunk of the $520 billion U.S. retail market. Nonstore sales accounted for 12.5% of national retail spending in June, outpacing grocery stores’ 12.4% and restaurants’ and bars,’ which also accounted for 12.4%.

Retailers turn to vendors

Merchants, looking to capture a bigger piece of the growing ecommerce pie, are demanding more from retail technology. As a result, more vendors are hitting the market to help retailers solve a multitude of tough problems, grow sales, reach wider audiences and more. These advancements in the vendor landscape are leading many retailers to turn to providers for help rather than develop technology in house.

When implementing any new ecommerce technology, 104, or 65.0% of the 160 retailers surveyed in August by Digital Commerce 360 say they choose to use a vendor, compared with the 35.0% that choose to build the technology in-house.


73 (70.2%) of those retailers that choose a vendor do so because they don’t have in-house expertise, while 63 (64.4%) do so because vendors have specialized expertise in their fields. (Respondents could select multiple responses.) 50 merchants (48%) found it faster to complete a project when using a vendor, and 38 (36.5%) said it is cheaper to use a vendor than build the technology from scratch internally.

Throughout the Shoptalk conference, the Emerging Technology Spotlight track will feature a curated group of 100 early stage technology companies and vendors ranging from robotics to AI and the in-store experience.

For example, a session entitled AI in Marketing will feature presentations from executives at technology companies whose AI-based solutions help marketing executives better understand and connect with their customers. Meanwhile, other tech-focused sessions touch on personalization, search and discovery, customer relationships and loyalty, in-store operations, warehouses and fulfillment, transportation and delivery, and more.

Meanwhile, the technology-focused track, Evaluating Retail Technologies, features sessions on the technology-enabled store and also one on evaluating ecommerce and omnichannel technologies. The latter is an interactive session where three companies—sunglass and apparel manufacturer and retailer Maui Jim, e.l.f Beauty and French spirits group Remy Cointreau—will discuss how they identified, assessed and selected the solutions they are using to enable their ecommerce and omnichannel offerings.

A spotlight on female leaders

This year’s Shoptalk conference is a landmark year where the conference made the bold decision to feature an all-female line up of executives hailing from smaller tech-focused start-ups as aforementioned as well as big name brands. Throughout Shoptalk’s six years, about 60% of speakers have been men and 40% have been women, including this year’s all-female lineup. This year, Shoptalk wanted to take action and do its part to raise the profile of women in retail.


Technology sessions this year include top female professionals from large brands and retailers including:

  • Anshu Bhardwaj, vice president, monetization and chief of staff to the chief technology officer, Walmart
  • Kamelia Aryafar, executive vice president and chief algorithms officer, Overstock
  • Barkha Saxena, chief data officer, Poshmark
  • Anna Farberov, general manager PepsiCo Labs, Global Venture and Innovation, PepsiCo
  • Ingrid Cordy, vice president, global ecommerce and customer experience, e.l.f. Beauty

There’s room at the ecommerce table for retailers to tap into technology to grow sales. Organizers designed Shoptalk 2020 to help retailers choose the right technologies and vendors to gain market share and to showcase companies that are pioneers in implementing emerging technology and the results those companies are achieving.

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