Retail Reflections

Shoptalk 2022 Day Four: The Load-Out

Shoptalk 2022 Day Four: The Load-Out

Shoptalk wrap up – the top eleven takeaways. This is a summary of the top eleven trends emerging from the conference as discussed in a panel session. My notes from the discussion and also my personal take on each:

  • The store is back

Part of the American culture is that shopping is part of media and entertainment. “The store is back but it has to be worth it”

Great to discuss just what is a store now? The role and purpose is evolving from shopping to browsing to becoming a fulfilment centre.

As one of the panellists commented, “In 2019 stores were considered a liability”. Amazing to reflect on that now in the context of retail in 2022. And also heartening to hear that the value of the store associate is becoming more and more appreciated.

AB: stores never went away, it was just the popular view which grabbed headlines which said they did. It’s just that they will need to be better than before.

  • Profits are the new sales

2022 is the year when we’re going to be talking about profits (again). There’s been an awakening amongst investors that you can’t lose money indefinitely. Investors are getting impatient with the rate of customer acquisition.

We are now moving into retention models. We’ve seen some brands catapult to $100m in two years. Interesting that in order to drive profit many brands such as Warby Parker are opening more stores.

AB: Return on investment will become more critical than ever however the nature of retail is that it should be medium to long term. Will investors be patient of that?

  • New channels – content as commerce, metaverse & livestreaming

We are losing the definition of channels – consumers don’t shop in channels – will the metaverse be the means by which all the channels converge? Examples of brands playing in the metaverse are Pacsun, Estee Lauder and Forever 21 they are all reinventing their brands in the metaverse.

If you’re not thinking about the metaverse, you’re behind already – you have to be playing in it

Marie Driscoll, Coresight Research

AB: the poll taken of the audience during this discussion reflected my thoughts, in the next 12 months the metaverse isn’t going to be as important as livestreaming. But whatever we think of the metaverse, it is a thing and cannot be ignored.

  • Checkout & payments – frictionless & flexible (consumer choice)

Consumers want choices to co-exist – if it creates extra steps in the process to create personalisation, give the consumer the choice.

Consumers who have the option to use a payment plan are purchasing more aspirational items eg. Klarna and other buy now pay later are driving bigger basket sizes.

AB: payment options and ease of checkout both online or in store are embedded in the customer experience.

  • Brand authenticity

Different customer bases eg. Gen Z have a very specific way of viewing the world – so where do you start in determining your brand?

Understanding what is authentic to your brand is incredibly important. Brands need to listen in order to understand. Brands should not fear to co-create with the consumer.

AB: consumers will more and more gravitate to brands which mirror their values.

  • Sustainability – a data problem

The success of sustainability initiatives is proving difficult to measure. Brands are all about making ESG claims for 2025, 2030 etc but the challenge is holding them to account.

Should sustainability equate to purpose? The nature of sustainability means that it is a journey and a process of continual improvement.

AB: greenwashing is an ongoing problem and the consumer is being fed information which can be misleading. More transparency is needed.

  • Loyalty

Loyalty is the gateway to personalisation. Personalisation is now with a small ‘p’ – in other words, 4/5 years ago we were charging into it, now we’re easing into it. The panel made the interesting observation that brands and retailers need to respect the mood their customer when approaching them.

AB: In order to join a conversation, brands need to seek permission to do so.

  • Consumer personalities and 9. Next frontier of data = emotional intelligence

Every company is a technology company and underlying that is data. Customer data, inventory data. AI and machine learning can try to interpret that however we need to do a better job of looking at the signals.

AB: brands and retailers have an abundance of data and they have an obligation to use it in a responsible manner. Which means being relevant and in context.

  • Cookie-less world get used to it

Marketing in a cookie-less world. Brands will need to migrate to other methods and opportunities such as Tik Tok, which in turn means we’re moving to a longer term view. The nature of digital marketing is evolving and the good news is that it is moving away from a transactional model.

AB: this goes hand in hand with loyalty and personalisation and can be interpreted as a more mature way of brands engaging with their customers.

Supply chain challenges

Well, it’s my comments here as the panel ran out of time!

AB: supply chain issues will continue throughout 2022 however a slow down in consumer spending caused by the cost of living crisis will mitigate this to an extent.

And that’s a wrap from Shoptalk 2022. Plenty to digest from a conference packed with content – by which time, it’ll be time for Shoptalk Europe in London 6-8 June. I can hardly wait.

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