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Shoptalk 2022: Day 2 Recap

Day Two of Shoptalk 2022 delivered for attendees unable to get together over the past two years with several standing room only sessions throughout the day.

Similar to day one, we’ll do our best to summarize the key themes throughout the sessions we attended as we mentally prepare for the third and final day, which culminates with a crowd-pleasing Flo Rida concert.

1. The Metaverse: Are brands onto something or on something?

The conversation around Metaverse – and Web3 to some extent – has been a common talking point throughout many panels over the course of the last two days. Do brands need to be a part of it? How do you balance it among a portfolio of projects?

Opinions are polarized, with some folks, like Liz Bacelar of Estée Lauder, adamant that brands should be exploring how to engage with customers or considering virtual stores.

For many retailers, though, this technology is still in the early stages, and they see it as more of a marketing ploy today than a meaningful enabler of commerce. With so many other opportunities for capital spend – from automation to checkout to building or remodeling stores – the Metaverse remains a narrow priority for most retailers.

Either way, the broader discussion indicates that retailers are trying to keep pace with consumers to figure out how shopping behavior might look in the future if virtual reality takes off in a meaningful way.

2. Keys to success start with understanding your customer through relevant data

Retailers throughout the conference point to success over the last several years with a systematic approach of listening to and understanding their customer.

We heard from Target’s Chief Digital Officer, Cara Sylvester, who talked about how everyone in her organization has a common understanding of sales, margin and market share trends to capture the big picture in terms of how customers are voting with their wallets. The transparency of information allows teams to listen to and operate with the same understanding as the customer in order to dig into the right layer of insights and better understand why the business may be performing better or worse than expected.

Jennie Weber of Best Buy mentioned two questions she regularly asks teams to encourage them to be customer-led in their thinking:

  • What is the customer pain point we’re trying to solve?
  • How do you know it’s an issue?

Your ability to improve your customer experience is founded on data – qualitative and quantitative – to listen to the information and identify customer pain points that, in turn, present opportunities for the business.

3. Remove the silos to better serve customers

In relation to listening to customers, many retailers talked about removing company silos to put the customer at the center of what they do versus being driven by internal operations or processes.

Matt Baer from Macy’s talked about how this mandate – being less siloed and more cross-functional – has been one of the four key pillars for his team and that data and analytics have helped power this change. Macy’s – like Target – uses data to enable teams to have the same information at their disposal, when making decisions, while tracking progress on initiatives to share learnings across the organization.

In a similar fashion, Anthony Soohoo of Walmart talked on the first day about how the retailer had combined the merchant roles for ecommerce and store channels. This structural change eliminated a channel-centric view to reflect the customer’s shopping behavior.

Removing friction for the customer often starts with removing silos within the four walls of your organization.

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