Shoptalk: Three themes from Day 2
Greetings from the second full-day at Shoptalk. We’ll cover three themes from today’s sessions. For those interested in the prior day’s recap please visit here.
Amazon is playing blackjack while everyone else is playing war
Sure, the oft-cited cliché is that someone is playing chess while everyone else is playing checkers. To borrow from our experience on The Strip, though, Amazon is playing at a different table while retailers duke it out amongst each other via a game of (retail) War. Amazon was a recurring theme among panels in terms of whether brands should embrace the ecommerce giant or avoid it altogether. Nicole Quinn, a Partner at Lightspeed Ventures, summed up a common sentiment when she talked about how she had been distrustful of Amazon in the past but now sees pockets of opportunity for brands to partner with Jeff Bezos & Co. in areas where the company has not been as successful in the past…that said, what cemented our perception of Amazon’s lead was the keynote given by David Isbitski, the Chief Evangelist for Alexa and Echo. He discussed the importance of voice to customers and stated how voice is a significant opportunity and, particularly, as Alexa moves into consumers’ car. If we believe David’s remark that “nothing beats speed,” we should also believe that Amazon’s dominance will continue.
Experience is The King
One of Elvis’ many hits was “Always on My Mind.” Though we suspect he was not talking about retail experiences, we believe that great experiences live on in consumers’ minds. A key theme throughout the panels was the power of experience to consumers and bringing that to life in a physical environment. As Rebecca Kaden from Union Square Partners said, “consumers don’t fall in love with a business model, they connect with emotion to brands.” As such, the opportunity for retailers and brands is to think beyond the transaction and product to delight customers. Give them a reason to vote with their time as well as their dollars. An example that was cited of a company doing this well was Camp which rotates its concept every 8-12 weeks but charges customers admission to its store via appointments and then customers have the privilege to purchase merchandise. The lines between entertainment and retail will continue to blur (to revisit a theme from yesterday!)
Talking dirty in Sin City: health & wellness
While Vegas is not the best of backdrops to be discussing health & wellness, it’s clear that this trend is top of mind for retailers and brands alike. Reaching back to Day 1, Celeste Burgoyne of lululemon, cited health & wellness as one of the trends the company is looking to seize upon. Frans Muller, the CEO of Ahold Delhaize, talked about “healthy & sustainable” in relation to the food they sell to consumers. Today Moiz Ali of direct-to-consumer brand, Native, which was purchased by P&G, spoke about how his company rode this wave to a $100M acquisition. Companies that didn’t speak at Shoptalk from Apple to Best Buy to Walgreens (and Amazon) are all coming at this larger opportunity from different angles. We expect this to sustain as a strategic priority for companies for several years.
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