Now that the dust has settled from Shoptalk 2018 and everyone is back to business as usual, we’ve finally some time to process the highlights from the amazing event.  

With over 8000 attendees, “the world’s largest conference for retail & ecommerce innovation” brought together established retailers and brands, startups, tech companies, investors, media, and analysts to understand and predict the future of retail. 

So what did we learn? 

Brick-and-Mortar Isn’t Dying, It’s Transforming

Major brands such as Target and Amazon aren’t abandoning retail stores anytime soon and neither should you. Data trends show that visiting physical stores remain an important part of consumer shopping journeys, so while some people may warn about the death of in-store retail, shoppers aren’t ready to break old habits.

For Macy’s, that means providing customers with a robust digital presence while also investing in brick-and-mortar experiences that meet high consumer expectations. After all, “you can’t starve one to feed the other”, according to CEO Jeff Gennette. 

By contrast, some brands now leverage physical stores to offer top-flight consumer experiences. Zach Overton, VP of Experiential Marketing at Samsung detailed his journey at Shoptalk. Samsung Electronics America’s flagship retail space in New York City isn’t just a store - it’s a curated “cultural destination and digital playground”. Designed with the consumer in mind, Samsung 837 space serves as a creative expression of the Samsung brand and houses, among other things, a customer care center that offers 1:1 service to product owners.

It couldn’t be clearer: brands must be prepared to go the extra mile to match consumer needs, and customer-centric experiences both online and offline. Which brings us to the next biggest takeaway from Shoptalk 2018:

Start With Your Customer and Work Backwards 

To remain truly on top of your game, marketers have to listen to consumers. Ruth Crowley, Lowe's VP of customer experience design said it best when she asked the audience "How do you work to ensure what you're doing, in innovation or on the practical side of the business, that it's meaningful to the customer?"

Her answer? “It's not prescriptive, no two customers are the same."

With trends like experiential retail on the rise, consumers are increasingly raising their expectations from the brands they support. Which means that in order to meet these high expectations, marketers must find innovative ways to stay in touch with what customers want, and respond accordingly. 

People may be declaring that retail is dying, but the industry is slowly seeing a powerful resurgence—and it’s looking a lot more consumer-first than it did in the past.

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