Retail Reflections

Shoptalk 2023 Day Three: RIP Omnichannel

Shoptalk 2023 Day Three: RIP Omnichannel

After the day at Shoptalk ended yesterday I took a walk down the strip to the Bellagio hotel as it’s always an opportunity to take in the fountain display they put on every 15 minutes. Interestingly, near where I live in East Grinstead an area now known as Dormans Park – a very exclusive private estate, used to be known as the Bellaggio Estate. Anyway, that’s got nothing to do with Shoptalk, so what were my personal highlights from day three?

OK so let’s lean in to it right from the off (Vegas speak) and address what for me was the highlight of the day. Not Judith McKenna, Walmart International President & CEO (more later) or even Morgan Flatley, Global CMO at McDonald’s. And not even a great session on how different retailers such as Wayfair discussing how they are using technology to help product discovery.

No, the moment came during an interview this morning with Best Buy chief merchandising officer, Jason Bonfig when he described their customer proposition as ‘unified retail’. Not only that but he referred to it from the perspective of the customer.

Jason Bonfig, Chief Merchandising Officer, Best Buy

And things got better. So I have to take my hat off to Shoptalk for two things this morning: first, getting up on stage and publicly declaring the end of omnichannel and that it is now unified commerce (and that makes far more sense) and second for calling out the metaverse; “the metaverse hype cycle is well and truly over”.

New Kid On The Block

The metaverse hype cycle maybe over but there’s a new kid on the block: Generative AI. And it seems that the Generative AI hype is more than ten times that of the metaverse last year.

Generative AI can help us be creative at warp speed

Morgan Flatley, Global CMO McDonald’s

Virtually every session has referred to it in one way or another and the promise is real and profound. It’s most definitely the star of Shoptalk 2023. We could well be rapidly entering a new era of hyper-personalisation, and if that proves to be true, I for one will welcome it.


Unsurprisingly former Asda executive and now President & CEO of Walmart International, Judith McKenna was the headline of the day if not the show.

No doubt that Bunnings could have benefited from her experience of running an International business prior to their brief foray into the UK market however I sensed that this was female empathy and intuition in action as she described the need to really, intimately understand local nuances and preferences and not to assume that what worked in, for example Mexico will work in South Africa.

Who’d Have Thought?

Who’d have thought that it’s all about the customer? Because with the best part of three days already done, in so many different ways, that’s what Shoptalk is all about. Whether it be AI, generative AI, product discovery, inventory and demand management, ChatGPT, RFID, retail media networks or using the supply chain as a differentiator, it all comes back to engaging with the customer to make their life easier.

And after wandering around the Expo floor (look out for my VLOG on that) it was time for the last session of the day which was a quick-fire round of the ten retail technology trends to see which the panel thought was a hit and which was a lemon. So here we go.

First up was AI – verdict #hit. The hype is real. Next was virtual fit tech – verdict #miss. Needs to do better. So how about livestream video? – verdict #hit. Enables great customer service. Next was electronic shelf labels – verdict #miss. Can we retrofit our stores and realise the ROI?

Moving on to our old favourite, the metaverse, darling of Shoptalk 2022. But a lot can happen in 12 months – verdict #miss. Over hyped. However, how about conversational commerce? Our panel gave this the big thumbs up. Then came robotics – verdict #hit. Warehouses need them. Augmented reality – verdict #hit&miss. Still looking for it. Next was grab and go technology. We might be told we need it but it’s still evolving. Verdict #miss. And finally sustainability tech. Verdict – #hit. Well why wouldn’t you?

And that was pretty much it for day three at Shoptalk, except it wasn’t. Because not one but three receptions came between me and some shuteye. Actually, it was four because during the afternoon I managed to catchup with my good friends at the Remarkable Retail podcast. If you haven’t yet, I thoroughly recommend that you check them out.

Of course Shoptalk wouldn’t be complete without saying hello to the awesome RETHINK Retail team and it was great to catch up with fellow influencers at their happy hour. And then Bazaarvoice and Taggstar put on a reception which I felt compelled to go to.

And if all that wasn’t enough, as I write, I’m also getting ready for a White Beach Party with Nelly. Now, I’ve no idea what a white beach party is or who Nelly is but I guess it’ll be fun. If I survive, I’ll tell you all about it tomorrow.

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