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Three observations from Day 1 of Shoptalk

Internal processes helped legacy businesses succeed but hinder them from evolving.

  • One of the best talks of the day came from David Katz, the CMO at Randa Accessories, who discussed how legacy businesses fail to identify emergent technologies that subsequently destroy existing processes.  At Randa, the organization segmented current business units and processes to determine which ones needed to change and how to think about resourcing against them.  The work led them to identify gaps in the current operations and then figure out how to evolve them or partner with the right companies.

Latin American retail: an underappreciated opportunity.

  • Executives from C&A in Brazil, MercadoLibre in Argentina, and Tiendas Elektra in Mexico talked about the opportunity around ecommerce and mobile in Latin America.  LatAm has less digital development than North America but expected to grow and then take off.  Many of the retailers are undergoing transformations to become more digital and two keys to success stood out:
    1. The importance of having the initiative driven from the CEO’s office to permeate the entire organization
    2. Starting with the customer perspective to ensure a point-of-view to align the organization around change.

Amazon the clear leader in technology and delivering on customer expectations.

  • The list of speakers at Shoptalk is impressive and it was great to see Jeff Gennette from Macy’s and Brian Cornell from Target on-stage.  However, both executives kept their presentations to a script and at a very high level.  Jeff Gennette discussed mobile checkout and personalization but offered few details.  Brian Cornell talked about the legacy of ecommerce at Target and shopper “options” but offered few details on where the company was going beyond the next year…and then Amazon Go executives, Gianna Puerini and Dilip Kumar, talked about the Amazon Go technology – why they chose machine learning cameras vs. RFID for their store – and noting that they have thousands of people working on machine learning at Amazon.  The difference in technological capabilities between Amazon and legacy retailers, along with a much more forward-looking culture vs. thinking about the business in one year increments, came across loud and clear.