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  • Writer's pictureRick Kenney

Down by the Bay -- ShopTalk 2022

Updated: Jun 10, 2022

This is a love letter, albeit conditional love, to this weekend’s arrival of the first big, full, industry show, and with it thousands of friends, practitioners, technologists, analysts and yes, even the thought leaders. Come one, come all. ShopTalk kicks off Sunday, and boy do we all need it. For me, I’m ready to break the monotony of remote-everything. It's time to get down to business and lay a few more bricks in the foundation of the ecosystem. Here’s a quick take on what will make this show great, and what you can do to make it better.

The Content

The role of content at ShopTalk is both central and peripheral. Content flows like a lazy river - you grab a ride at some point, generally when convenient, though. There are so many competing attractions that no single session or keynote rises too far above any other, especially on the two main days, Monday and Tuesday. All told, content stretches across 2 full days and 2 partial days, with nearly 100 sessions across a set of themed tracks that vary from day-part to day-part. Put positively, there are big brand names, and skilled presenters galore. And, ShopTalk’s content spans a wide set of retailing topics — from IRL to URL. The sessions serve as a survey of all things digital commerce, mostly, hitting nearly every solution category. The word cloud tells the session content story — a mile wide, though only about a single session deep for most topics.

Interesting that ecommerce and commerce are each noted in 3 session titles (while implied in dozens more). We're still waffling on the syntax here -- commerce v. ecommerce. And, also noteworthy: the metaverse will be a discussion point across the stage.


But there are challenges, imho, and none greater than ShopTalk’s reputation for panelphilia. Panels are an easier sell to attract senior leaders, of course. Content track leaders can lure guests with a ‘light lift.’ Panels tend to allow guests to react more than create (accidental anagram!). From the seats, though, panels tend to be more difficult to consume - especially for those who prefer learning visually. Getting a panel right is massively challenging. With a great moderator, prepared guests, and visual aids (slides, videos, etc.), panels can be successful. Honestly, though, those are exceptions, and far too often, panels lead to musical chairs and revolving ballroom doors.

ShopTalk is emphasizing their original content, including “100% independent research, data, frameworks, benchmarking studies and visual guides.” Hopeful for sure, especially for those practitioners and tradesfolk turning to industry events like this one to fill their professional development quotas. The full ShopTalk agenda lives here.

The Hall

Embrace the gauntlet! The exhibit hall is a hallmark of any trade show. And, there may be no better retail booth-walk than ShopTalk. Less daunting and more digitally focused than NRF, and expansive enough to fit the ambitions of big tech that answer the question 'how many floors can we have in a booth?' The hall is teeming with marketing and commerce tech, and given the pace of innovation and sheer volume of product releases, steering into the hall can save hundreds of hours of vendor assessments for retailers. And, for those in the partner ecosystem, this is the pot of gold.

But, booth duty, through the eyes of an SE or Sales Rep, can be a dread. Lack of eye contact, slooooow days, and tired feet. Here's how to make the most being boothside:

+ Prepare: reach out to 5-10 retailers (customers and prospects). Offer to listen or have them show and tell: what are they doing with your tech? What would they like to do?

+ Get to know every booth around you. Make friends. Network with them. Watch their demos.

+ Don't try your pick-up lines: gimmicky pick-up lines and badge-gazing are out. A simple 'hello' to those that look your way is great. If an attendee lingers, offer to help. Keep it simple.

Game time! We're running a game show.

And you're invited to play! (+ prizes)

what: 'Hi/Lo' Game Show - site speed insights trivia!

where: YOTTAA booth, #9012

when: Monday during the cocktail hour

The Lobby

At a show this size, the lobby extends from the elevator bank all the way through the registration stand and overflows into the bars and restaurants along the path. For folks looking to be part of the scene, lobbycon is a terrific strategy. The lobby is my favorite part of the whole event and show experience. It is a chance to serendipitously run into friends, former colleagues and partners AND a chance to meet folks through friends and colleagues. There may be no better networking moment than connecting two people. So, keep those eyes up, smile, wave to those folks you know, and take the opportunity to connect folks up.

It’s finally here — eager to see you Sunday at the Mandalay Bay - have a great show.

ShopTalk starts Sunday, 2pm at the Mandalay Bay.

image source: GetYarn.

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