Shoptalk just hosted its 2023 convention with more than 10,000 attendees from hundreds of companies. Ecommerce was on the minds of executives and consultants during the four days of presentations. Speakers from companies in Digital Commerce 360’s Top 1000 database of the largest North American ecommerce retailers addressed the future of AI, convenience, sustainability, omnichannel shopping and more.
These were some of the most interesting trends to watch from Shoptalk.
AI is everywhere
Artificial intelligence was the single most popular topic among presenters and panelists. Executives and speakers faced dozens of questions about how AI might change retail.
Executive vice president and chief digital and information officer at Lowe’s Seemantini Godbole pointed to the home improvement retailer’s app as an example of AI’s potential applications. The app can be used to measure square footage of a room and see how appliances will fit. It’s not “nice to have; it’s essential,” Godbole said. Lowe’s Cos. Inc. ranks No. 11 in the Top 1000.
Other retailers spoke about using artificial intelligence to make better recommendations to customers. For example, ThredUp chief marketing officer Noelle Sadler described how the resale company uses AI to suggest similar products to customers. Shein global head of strategy and corporate affairs Peter Pernot-Day told Digital Commerce 360 that the apparel retailer also uses AI to make recommendations to consumers. The company then uses information on customer preferences to create new collections for customers in just a few days.
Video and livestreaming have potential
Shopping through livestream video is still relatively unpopular in the U.S. market, but several retailers and marketplaces at Shoptalk described how that could change.
Ecommerce marketplace Verishop found that customers react strongly to videos. The marketplace uses automation to turn livestreams from creators into smaller evergreen clips that can live on product pages. Products with video reviews saw conversion rates improve more than 40%, co-founder and CEO Imran Khan said.
Fragrance company Nest takes a different approach. Live videos are a way to sell products like fragrances that consumers traditionally want to see in person, chief digital officer Andrea Moore said. Nest uses videos to establish its credibility in the fragrance world, answer consumer questions, host product premiers, and showcase exclusive offers, Moore said.
The secondhand market is growing
Secondhand sales were also discussed throughout the conference by a number of retailers. ThredUp president Anthony Marino began a panel discussion of resale companies by saying that used clothing has gone from having “stigma to status.” ThredUp now works with 20 companies to manage their resale markets, including J. Crew (No. 87), Gap (No. 19), and Abercrombie and Fitch (No. 57). The clothing resale market is growing 16 times faster than the broader retail market, per ThredUp’s data. The company said more than half of consumers purchased secondhand clothing in the past year.
Reham Fagiri, co-founder and CEO of furniture resale marketplace AptDeco, told a similar story about used furniture. The furniture resale market is growing about three times as fast as total retail, Fagiri said.
Both ThredUp and AptDeco attributed the growth to customer expectations of convenience and sustainability. To work directly with retailers, ThredUp and AptDeco both emphasized that they can bring new consumers to brands that might not buy them at the original price points. AptDeco partnered with Williams-Sonoma Inc. (No. 22) to list returned or slightly damaged furniture, and in turn gives the retailer data about how to price used items.
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