The Shoptalk 2022 event was, in one word, inspiring. The event allowed attendees to connect with like-minded individuals and speak with colleagues face to face while hearing from some of retail’s top leaders. Leaders spoke about current market trends, discussed how their brands persevered over the last two years during the pandemic, and showcased their brand plans for the road ahead.
Over the four days at Shoptalk, a couple of key themes continued to resurface in conversations that were less about trends and more about building and thriving as a retailer or brand.
Define Your North Star
Refining and working on your North Star or strategic business approach is key to maintaining focus in this quickly evolving landscape. Many retail leaders shared that while the senior leaders in their organization may understand and know the current vision, it’s not necessarily conveyed to associates at all levels, leaving them wondering about their fit at the company. Having a defined current-state and future-state vision that everyone in the organization can rally around provides a competitive advantage that can help brands achieve their business goals.
Create a Transformation Roadmap
The plan could be a roadmap, action plan, timeline, or project plan. Whatever the method, there should be documentation of the plan and how the organization will realize the value of the vision across the working teams in the organization.
Understand the Intersection of Teams
As businesses become more transformative to keep up with the ever-changing retail landscape, consider how technology, customer data, and customer strategy teams all work together to support the vision and goal.
Build a Compelling Culture
As Chris Rupp from Merkle client Albertsons shared, “Organizations need to move from a know-it-all mindset to a growth mindset, where we all learn from each other.” To achieve this, brands need to build a compelling culture where individuals see themselves learning and growing throughout their careers. This is especially important in this difficult time of recruitment and retention.
Craft a Business Plan
Business planning and measurement was a key topic discussed by a lot of marketers throughout the four-day conference. Organizations that are winning have developed a business plan with KPIs to assess performance. Financial measurement plans are critical for future investment and those metrics should support the overall business vision.
Create Meaningful Experiences
Customers want more than commerce – they want to have personalized, meaningful, and relevant content, delivered at the right time and within the right medium. They also want flexibility in how, when, and where they complete the transaction. Brands need to reach the right person, with the right message, at the right time, offering the right payment options. These ideas came to life at Shoptalk this year with the following trends.
Data is still king. Customer demand for bespoke messaging and personalized, meaningful product recommendations will require a convergence of data, technology, and customer strategy. Developing an overall data strategy that highlights data gaps, data feed opportunities, third-party data requirements, and plans for how the brand will grow first-party data will continue to be an essential component to personalized marketing.
As the industry continues to be more competitive, brands seek to expand where and how they sell their products. One way they’re doing that is by participating in online marketplaces, like Amazon, Walmart, and Target, where shoppers can explore countless merchants on one site. They allow retailers to offer more selection and gain additional shoppers, while the brand can more widely distribute their products.
While other methods of shopping, such as live stream shopping, are popular in Asia and other parts of the world, they haven’t taken off as quickly in the US. However, some brands are experimenting with channels like influencer marketing, including The Home Depot, Macy’s and Walmart.
The metaverse was a very hot topic for attendees. While most retailers and brands are in the experimental stage, some retailers, such as PacSun and Forever 21, are offering exclusive NFTs, rewarding buyers with connected products in real life, and allowing customers to explore and build their own stores and shopping experiences via partners such as Roblox.
Create a Great Culture and Working Teams
In retail, speed to market is essential. Having teams that can work in an agile way, making swift decisions and modifications are crucial to drive value to the business. If personalization at scale or advancing the total customer experience is part of your 2022 strategy, consider evaluating your team, how they work, how they collaborate, and how quickly decisions can be executed in market.
Hiring and Retaining the Right Talent
The topic of resourcing and talent is everyone’s concern and the gap in resource demand doesn’t appear to be improving. It’s up to companies to create a culture where people want to go. A panel with Walmart, Levi’s, and Albertsons shared that companies need to show a path to a future that everyone in the company can believe in.
As emerging technologies become critical for doing business, collaboration across technology, marketing, finance, and other groups is more important than ever. There’s no such thing (yet) as the Chief Metaverse Officer, so teams must collaborate to succeed on new platforms.
Kylissa Ward of Shipt talked about the impact of leading with collaboration, saying it “built the groundwork and connection points for a new way of collaborating that has enabled a shared ‘tech + business’ vision and means we’re able to expand our capabilities faster.”
While there were many points of inspiration throughout the show, what was most poignant is that retail is evolving quickly, and its leaders need to come together, as almost 12,000 people did last week in Las Vegas, in order to push the industry ahead and offer the best experiences possible to team members, partners, and customers.