Sprawling throughout Las Vegas’ The Venetian, Shoptalk 2019 proved to be one of the most insightful, fantastic, and dare we say magical retail conferences out there. Between the fire dancers, interactive booths, and free massages, it’s almost easy to forget that the event is for work and not just a three-day party and wellness retreat.
As if the perks weren’t enough (the socks! so many swag socks), the lineup of speakers and events gave us enough to think about and ponder over for the next few months. Three big retail themes that persisted throughout the conference. If you weren’t able to make Shoptalk this year (or if you were there, but too distracted by Shaggy concerts and spiked milkshakes made by a robot to pay attention), have a look at the top three retail ideas we’re taking away from the event.
2019 retail is all about data
Dollar Shave Club first made a name for themselves as something to watch in retail when a YouTube video of theirs went viral seven years ago. Since then, they’ve consistently lived at the forefront of the subscription retail model. The main asset helping them stay constantly refreshing and relevant? Data.
As CEO Michael Dubin said of the importance of data collection during Dollar Shave Club’s Shoptalk session, “It’s knowing everything about the member and helping simplify the shopping experience so you get the best products,” Dubin said. “The more we know about you, the more we can make it appealing to the people in their 70s as well as the people in their 20s.”
Learning more about the needs of their demographic resulted in Dollar Shave Club rolling out Mel Magazine, a men’s health and wellness publication, as well as new physical products like their fragrance line and deodorant (coming soon).
Dollar Shave Club wasn’t the only data enthusiast at the event. Charlie Cole, the Chief eCommerce Officer for Samsonite, also said that data was key to communicating effectively with your customers. Tapestry, a branding house for luxury lifestyle brands, has even created data labs to make sure it’s constantly collecting the necessary statistics to own their place in the retail landscape. Mike Smith, COO of StitchFix expressed pleasant surprise at how easy it is to ask questions of your customers and get the responses needed.
Customization is king
Levi’s executive VP made the official announcement that Levi’s will be rolling out a new feature that lets customers customize the jeans they order online. Options range into the thousands, a huge and totally new step for the denim retailer.
Brands risk losing connection with their customers when so much shopping is done online, and customization and personalization are crucial ways to make a retail experience feel like a collaboration, not just a transaction.
Levi’s shift reflects a larger trend that brands like DSW are also conscious of. As CEO Roger Rawlins said, “Now it's about personalization and helping a customer find that one shoe they want out of the 800 labels they sell.” Brands risk losing connection with their customers when so much shopping is done online, and customization and personalization are crucial ways to make a retail experience feel like a collaboration, not just a transaction.
As technology evolves to support truly innovative personalization efforts, brands that don’t implement them will lose customers to the collaboration-focused brands.
Move to where your customer is
A major theme at Shoptalk this year was dispelling the notion that retail is dead. It’s very much alive and well, just expanded across different channels and methods of shopping. Embracing omnichannel retail is just one key understanding that retails must embrace. In order to continue to sell to customers, you have to meet them where they already are.
A major theme at Shoptalk this year was dispelling the notion that retail is dead. It’s very much alive and well, just expanded across different channels and methods of shopping.
Macy’s is working on features to improve its app, since data found that two-thirds of traffic and half of all online sales come from mobile usage. 45 percent of all Crate and Barrel sales start online, and Nordstrom has begun housing some startup brands that began as online only stores.
The people are clear about how and where they want to shop — wherever is most convenient — and retailers are taking note. And although “buy online, pick up in store” is almost all we heard about last year, too many brands don’t have the practice down pat yet. Smoothing out the omnichannel retail experience will be key to retaining loyal customers in the future.
Overall, Shoptalk gave an optimistic look into how retailers embracing new technologies to make the customer experience more enjoyable and shopping more frictionless. The landscape may be changing rapidly, but with the change comes opportunities for brands to deepen their relationship with customers and prove that they’re listening to what consumers want.