At the end of March, Extensiv attended ShopTalk in Las Vegas. The world’s biggest, most influential, and rising retailers and brands unite at Shoptalk for unrivaled business-critical connections, conversations, insights, and extraordinary shared experiences to reimagine the future together. At Shoptalk, Extensiv featured our Warehouse Manager, Order Manager, Fulfillment Marketplace, Integration Manager, and Market Insights Tool.
We truly enjoyed our time at ShopTalk (let’s not forget the Nelly concert!) and the conversations we had with brands and even current Extensiv customers. A big shout out to our Apple AirPod winner Chezi Cweiber from Returns Worldwide!
Now let’s hear from our Extensiv members and their key takeaways from ShopTalk:
Apart from catching up with Extensiv customers and learning what their technology needs are, ShopTalk was a great opportunity for me to attend sessions from top industry leaders who had lots to say about trends in the industry and what their businesses are doing to stay ahead of the game. While it was no surprise that AI was the hot topic this year, there were lots of other topics covered in sessions that are worth mentioning. Most of these sessions revolved around three key topics: automation, frictionless experiences, and connection.
Unsurprisingly, AI was the talk of the town. By leveraging AI, businesses have an opportunity to personalize recommendations and experiences that build customer loyalty and boost sales. During the sessions, speakers also emphasized the importance of implementing AI to leverage chatbots and virtual assistants to make it easier for customers to find the information they need and complete transactions quickly, no matter the time of day. Speakers highlighted the benefits of using predictive analytics in combination with customer data. AI-powered algorithms can forecast trends, enabling businesses to make informed decisions, address issues proactively, and optimize their fulfillment strategies. While most C-Suite executives agree that AI is quickly changing the landscape of ecommerce, I was interested to hear that most warned against completely removing the human element from the customer experience. Used in combination with human interaction, all agreed AI provides an incredible opportunity for our industry to make incredible strides in how we personalize the customer experience.
I sat in a planning meeting this week, and our CTO shared a slide with three words: “Data, data, data!” to emphasize that data is and should be at the core of everything we do. ShopTalk was no different. Data is the most reliable source of information you have about your customers and their shopping behavior. Without leveraging customer data, many speakers felt business will struggle. Data should be at the core of everything brands do, from simple exercises to understand consumer behavior to more complicated practices like leveraging data as the foundation for AI modeling. Data is and should be the backbone to building a successful business.
Creating a best-in-class omnichannel experience was, of course, another big topic discussed at ShopTalk. Joanne Crevoiserat, CEO at Tapestry, reminded the audience that customers don't think about sales channels as separate entities. Because of this, brands should focus on creating a simple and frictionless shopping experience. Regardless of the channel, these experiences should feel the same. Seemantini Godbole, EVP Chief Digital and Information Officer of Lowe’s, spoke about their technology that allows customers to create floorplans with their mobile app so they can easily order products from their phones, online, or in store. By focusing less on the individual channel and more on the overall customer experience, brands are succeeding in creating a simple, intuitive omnichannel shopping experience.
Fulfillment, or the "F-Word" as it was fondly referred to by Ethelbert Williams of Johnson & Johnson, was a key topic of discussion at the event. In today's world, same-day delivery and strategic inventory distribution planning are crucial to meeting customer demands for faster delivery times. Despite the unglamorous nature of fulfillment strategies, it's critical for brands to consider how they can positively impact the customer experience through their fulfillment processes. By strategically distributing inventory, brands can get products to their customers quickly and cost-effectively. CFO of Target, Michael Fiddelke, emphasized the importance of not only focusing on how brands get products to their customers but also on the post-purchase experience (particularly returns) to ensure a truly seamless end-to-end customer experience. Brands that make it easy for customers to return products are more likely to build lasting customer loyalty. By removing the barriers to returns, brands can show their customers that they value their satisfaction above all else. This not only creates a positive impression of the brand but also encourages repeat business as customers are more likely to shop with a brand that offers hassle-free returns.
Marketplaces offer brands an opportunity to expand their customer base, boost sales, and gather valuable sales data. Leveraging a reputable and relevant marketplace can help brands reach new customers quickly while also enabling them to move through inventory efficiently. In addition, marketplaces offer the benefit of automated pricing and promotions, which can help brands stay competitive in a crowded marketplace. To take advantage of these benefits, brands should carefully research and select the marketplaces that are the best fit for their brand. Factors to consider include ease of item setup, frictionless shopping experiences, and the marketing efforts provided by the marketplace. Starting small and testing out different marketplaces is often the best approach as it allows brands to learn and optimize their strategies over time. By getting everyone involved and committed to testing marketplaces, brands can maximize their chances of success in the ever-evolving ecommerce landscape.
In summary, my time at ShopTalk 2023 was a whirlwind of insightful conversations, fascinating presentations, and a lot of networking with fellow industry professionals. I left with a deeper understanding of industry trends and strategies and look forward to seeing where many of these technologies have progressed at next year’s ShopTalk 2024!
Typically, what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas, but today I’m pulling back the curtain to share some of my personal ShopTalk experience. As with every conference, a primary goal for any Partnership Manager is to show presence and engage with existing partners (and their customers). So, as soon as I touched down in Sin City, I went straight to connecting with partners–some of which I had not been able to see in person for over 3 years!
Attending ShopTalk as a Partnership Manager is very similar to the training module Neo and Morpheus use in the matrix to learn to fight or fly helicopters instantly. At ShopTalk, Partnership Managers can get the equivalent of 2-3 months’ worth of Zoom calls within a span of 2-3 days! I had the pleasure of connecting with over 60 different organizations in person over coffee, lunch, dinner, and the occasional roulette table, some key callouts including The Stable part of Accenture Song, Shopify, Ometria, BigCommerce, and more.
We capped things off with our Poolside Networking Event at the Mandalay Bay Cabanas, which was co-sponsored by 8 additional companies including WeMakeWebsites, Klaviyo, Okendo, VL Omni, Retention.com, Born Group, Triple Whale, and OrderGroove. Our event was a veritable oasis for folks who needed a bit of respite after a busy session on the ShopTalk floor. The sun was high and our Extensiv Pink koozies were certainly the hottest piece of swag available for the 100+ guests in attendance.
Later that same evening, Extensiv was invited to attend a private VIP reception hosted by our partner Pitney Bowes at the Mandalay Bay Orchid Suite. We were able to connect with their sales and engagement team directly in addition to meeting with retailers leveraging their solution. All-in-all, ShopTalk afforded us the opportunity to connect with our ecosystem in-person and revitalize our strategic partnerships. It’s the Super Bowl of ecommerce and is certainly not to be missed!
Attending Shoptalk 2023 was an exceptional opportunity to learn from industry leaders and explore emerging trends that are reshaping the operations of ecommerce brands and retailers.
The impact of OpenAI and ChatGPT was undeniable, with keynotes and breakout sessions highlighting the benefits of AI throughout the event. As Caleb Pearson, VP of Media & Digital U.S. Marketing for McDonald's, stated, "We've never been able to move as quickly as we can today with technological advancements, but we'll never move this slow again." Easier access to artificial intelligence and machine learning allows for greater automation and customization at scale for brands of all sizes. However, it's essential not to let this distract from turning customers into devoted fans. Jeff Katzenberg, co-founder and former CEO of DreamWorks Animation, cautioned against focusing solely on generative AI, advocating instead for sensory AI, which prioritizes delivering a reliable and dependable experience.
Yet, AI was not the only incredibly powerful and attention-grabbing topic, and it was refreshing to hear leaders emphasize the fundamentals amidst rapid technological advancements. The underlying theme from all the conversations, breakout sessions, and keynotes I had the pleasure of participating in consistently returned to focus on customers. Delivering a personalized and connected omnichannel experience, regardless of where the customer begins shopping or where they check out, remains the top priority. The data and tools available offer ample opportunity to personalize the customer journey at every touchpoint through dynamic content and recommendations based on customer behavior.
We heard the word “omnichannel” used nearly as much as AI, which further cements the standard that tapping into multiple sales channels is a must for brands looking to grow. Gone are the days of relying on Amazon as the sole sales channel with new marketplaces emerging in specialized industries or categories. The same customer behavior data that powers dynamic content and recommendations within your sales channels is exactly where brands need to turn to when exploring which marketplaces are best to expand into. Data on customers is powerful, but none of the concepts or results could have been possible without breaking down barriers through your technology and making it easy to uncover insights.
In addition to the omnichannel customer experience theme, meeting consumer expectations by providing fast, free, and reliable shipping is equally important. Brandon Friez, VP of Global Supply Chain at American Eagle Outfitters, demonstrated the value of a distributed and connected fulfillment network. Their eight-node fulfillment network, dubbed the "AEO Edge," has reduced transportation costs and accelerated delivery speeds for the renowned apparel company. Listening to a household brand like American Eagle Outfitters discuss fulfillment amplified the significance of our role at Extensiv as we strive to address similar supply chain complexities for young and growing brands. Partnering with third-party logistics (3PL) providers to leverage warehouses and distribution centers in strategic locations creates major benefits like those above but can also add much needed flexibility to supply chains that have proven to be very fragile at times since the pandemic.
In conclusion, the networking and interactions at Shoptalk proved invaluable, and witnessing first-hand the industry's growth and continued innovation left me feeling inspired. I eagerly anticipate playing a role in advancing the industry over the next year and returning to the event in 2024!
ShopTalk is one of the biggest events in the retail and ecommerce industry, and the 2023 edition did not disappoint. This year's conference brought together industry experts, executives, and innovators to discuss the latest trends, challenges, and opportunities in retail and ecommerce. Below is a brief overview of some of the key themes and takeaways from the event:
The importance of customer experience — Customer experience continues to be a top priority for retailers and ecommerce businesses. Several speakers emphasized the need to focus on creating seamless, personalized, and engaging experiences for customers across all touchpoints. Brands that can deliver on this promise will be the ones that stand out in a crowded marketplace.
The rise of AI and machine learning — AI and machine learning are becoming increasingly important for retailers and ecommerce businesses. These technologies can help companies automate processes, improve personalization, and better understand customer behavior. Several speakers discussed how AI and machine learning are already being used in areas such as product recommendations, fraud detection, and customer service.
The evolving role of physical stores — The role of physical stores in the retail landscape is changing. While brick-and-mortar stores continue to be an important touchpoint for customers, retailers are increasingly using them as showrooms, fulfillment centers, and experiential spaces. Many speakers emphasized the need for retailers to find ways to seamlessly integrate their physical and digital channels to create a cohesive omnichannel experience.
The impact of sustainability on the industry — Sustainability is becoming an ever more important issue for retailers and ecommerce businesses. Consumers are demanding more environmentally friendly products and packaging, and companies that can meet these demands will have a competitive advantage. Several speakers discussed how retailers can reduce their carbon footprint, promote sustainability, and communicate their efforts to customers.
The future of payments — Finally, there was a lot of discussion at ShopTalk about the future of payments. Many speakers talked about the growing importance of mobile payments and the need for retailers to provide seamless and secure payment experiences across all channels. Other topics discussed included the rise of cryptocurrency and the potential for blockchain to revolutionize the payments industry.
In conclusion, ShopTalk 2023 was a thought-provoking event that highlighted some of the biggest trends and challenges facing the retail and ecommerce industry. The importance of the customer experience, the role of AI and machine learning, the evolving role of physical stores, the impact of sustainability, and the future of payments were all key themes that emerged from the conference. As the industry continues to evolve and innovate, it will be interesting to see how these themes play out in the years to come.
For more event recaps and industry insights, check out the Extensiv blog to see what we’ve learned from our conference experiences.