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Shoptalk – Day 1.5

Shoptalk: Three common questions from Day 1 (and a half)

Greetings from the desert oasis of Las Vegas, Nevada – a welcome respite for those of us in the Midwest and Northeast who have gone through what has been a long and seemingly endless winter. For the next couple of days, we will share some key themes and questions we observe throughout the panels. These are not exhaustive, as we cannot attend all the great panels, but we hope they will provide additional insights for those unable to join us and for those attending, some nuggets that we took away throughout the days.

What is the plan for innovation?

A common sentiment amongst many of the retailers and panelists is the need for continuous innovation and evolution to keep up with their customers. As Shoptalk’s Chief Global Content Officer, Zia Daniell Wigder, stated in her opening address, “companies are at risk of under rather than over innovating.” We could not agree more. It’s something that companies seem to be taking to heart however, as the old saying goes, the proof is in the pudding. One of the ways to think about innovation which was cited by Tricia Patrick, a Managing Director at Advent International, is McKinsey’s decades old three horizons of growth framework. The idea provides a useful concept to align internal expectations and dedicate teams/company resources around innovation based on the expected horizon for a return on investment. [We will come back to this theme in our final recap to share details on how companies are tackling innovation.]

Where does science end and art begin?

A second theme throughout the last 36 hours has been the importance of data to retailers and brands. This idea is not new but it’s clear that executives are putting this front and center to understand and serve their customer. Data is no longer just a topic for nerds or data scientists at brands but a key driver of value creation from optimizing assortments (cited by David Katz, the CMO at Randa Accessories) to predicting customer needs (cited by JuE Wong, the CEO of Moroccan Oil). It can also be used as a tool against a company as Billy May, the CEO of Sur La Table, mentioned that one of their brand partners used the data that Sur La Table shared with them to open their own branded stores. With all that in mind, though, numerous panelists spoke about the need to use data to inform decisions but balance that with the art of retailing to delight the customer. When designing an experience for customers, there is little to no data and so creativity must come in to play. Helena Foulkes, the CEO of Hudson Bay, said it best when she talked about “marrying art & science” as one of her pillars to creating radical change.

What’s the difference between offline and online?

We ask this question, of course, with our tongue in our cheek. However, there is a kernel of truth because the lines between offline and online retail are becoming blurred. Erik Nordstrom, the Co-CEO of Nordstrom, cited a blurring of physical and digital customer journeys as contributing to the need for different experiences and business models. We also heard Macy’s talk about how when they close a store, the online sales in that market suffer. It’s becoming clear that the two are connected in more ways than we can imagine so companies will need to evolve their operations to reflect this dynamic and not just think about digital vs. brick-and-mortar if they want to best serve their customer.

The Navio Group works with retail leaders who want to transform their business. Interested in discussing these or other insights? Shoot us a note at

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