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  • Writer's pictureRick Kenney

What are they (Shop)talking about?

Updated: Mar 23, 2023

And, we’re back together. On the commerce ecosystem calendar, there are few events that jump out. With the retirement of Shop.org a few years back, there are two that stand out: NRF and Shoptalk. And it’s time to Shoptalk.


It's the closest the ecomm industry gets to Lollapalooza, so here's what to look for this year. And, for those searching for the gospel of benchmarks, look for the guy in gold walking the show.


Here’s what they’ll be shoptalking about

The skeptics won 2022. All those furrowed brows and eyerolls about the metaverse’s broad adoption and rapid value of NFTs were proven right. N.B.: Not to say there aren’t opportunities for either - it's the hype that was outrageously inflated.


This year’s chorus is the explosion of generative AI. The heavyweights - Google, Shopify, Salesforce and others - are undoubtedly curating their stories to include a clear emphasis on their application of AI.


If last year’s metaverse conversation was focused on changing the playing field, this year’s generative AI messaging will be about juicing the players on the pitch. There are already established use cases across commerce and marketing that are finding their way into playbooks already. Those that can focus their application of AI and tune for their context will find efficiency and opportunity.



Beyond AI, many of the familiar topics will shower attendees: lots of mentions of customer experience (which of course requires presenters and panelists to construct some tangibility on it), as well as a focus on the digital organization.


Three (non-session) ways to spend your time:

  1. Boothwalk: Shoptalk’s exhibit hall serves Goldilocks well - merging corporate opulence (multi floor booths! Barista stations!) with modestly consumable trips through the aisles. Like any show, the booth staff is predominately sales execs and business development representatives. Don't overlook those cold-connections across the hall, as there’s value to be had by engaging with the exhibitors (beyond the swag). Yes, retailers, you’ll get scanned, but seeing a few extra demos can be really helpful to understand what tech you are taking advantage of, and how your solution measures up to what’s being offered.

  2. Arranged Meetings: An expansion of the Shoptalk's highly touted hosted meetings is in store this year. These have been a stalwart of the provider experience - paying for an allotment of 15-minute table conversations with a retail or brand prospect. Now, the net has been cast to include all attendees. I’m bullish on the opportunity - a main pillar of the conference experience is expanding the network and learning something from the anecdotes others share. So, while these particular meetings have no teeth (the hosted retailer meetings are paid for, and thus if a retailer misses the meetings, the provider fee is either discounted or exchanged for more meetings, and the retailer is not made whole on their travel expense), the act of opting in and general curiosity of attendees should get folks to the table.

  3. And, as always, lobbycon will be in full effect. The stroll from the Mandalay entrance and elevator bank toward the main exhibit hall is worth the cost of travel alone. The serendipitous meeting of friends, former colleagues, partners, competitors and the like keeps us connected and enjoying the show. Leave extra time so you can connect, and aren’t rushing from one space to another.


Shoptalk starts Sunday at the Mandalay Bay. See you on the floor.

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