Top 5 Takeaways from Shoptalk 2018

This week I had the experience of attending Shoptalk.  It now starts on Sunday and runs to Wednesday- but is well worth giving up some weekend time.  Here are a few of the key nuggets I got out of the experience:

1)      Real innovation is happening in Retail- The best example of this was the Ocado CEO who discussed how his business got started to solve the challenges around online ordering of groceries.  He noted it was full of more friction than soft goods ecommerce because of the fresh nature of product and short timeline to fulfill an order.  His warehouse and distribution network reaches 73% of the UK and is designed to be 99% accurate on the order and deliver 97% of orders within the specified hour committed to the consumer.  The warehouse is highly automated- workers only touch an order for 15 minutes over the entire process. 

2)      The audience is truly global- The best example of this was my breakfast on Wednesday.  I sat down to eat with a table that was comprised of an Ecommerce Investor from South Africa, a Financial Analyst from a Swedish Pension fund, CEO of a startup from Toronto, Canada and myself from Phoenix, Az.  The conversation that ensued was rich- about how each market had its special nuances and challenges for growth.  If you’re looking for one show to expand a global network this is it!

3)      China is leading tech innovation- in the future of POS section I was impressed by the Bingo Box self-check solution that uses computer vision to tally up the items.  These solutions are used in the small foot print convenience retail stores all over China and the company was invested in by GGV Capital out of Silicon Valley.

4)      Experiences and community are critical for building brands for Gen Z - As the Millennials age the next frontier is “Gen Z”- digital natives that are looking for human connection.  I really enjoyed the discussion (yes on day 3!) with Marvel, Digital Brand Products and Greats shoes.  Brands come alive when a community is built around shared values and the brand enables the consumer to experience the brand beyond physical product. 

5)      Retail still is about getting things from point A to B- I enjoyed attending some of the logistics/transportation sessions as there is still that last physical mile on delivery (even for ecommerce/new business models) that must be solved.  Convoy was a great example of how a tech minded leader is revolutionizing the bidding and contracting of semi-truck space across the US.  This multi sided business model then enables them to collect and sell the anonymous data to retailers and brands.

So- for this “First timer” at Shoptalk I’m a fan- I will be sure to sign up and attend next year’s event.  If only I could clone myself so that I would get the value of several competing tracks that were held at the same time!