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Shoptalk Las Vegas 2024: Standout Solutions and Tech Trends

Shoptalk Las Vegas, one of the most anticipated events in the retail industry, recently concluded. From March 17th to 20th, Shoptalk brought together 10,000 senior leaders from retailers and brands across 48 countries and included 900 sponsors and exhibitors.  

From AI-powered customer insights to futuristic messaging platforms, Shoptalk offers a glimpse into innovations that are shaping the future of shopping. In this fast-paced world of retail, it’s the place to see and be seen, where innovation reigns supreme and the future of shopping is born. 

This year, RETHINK Retail took to the expo floor in search of standout solutions and emerging trends for our Talking Tech series. From discussions on AI and predictive modeling to the rise of new messaging channels like RCS messaging and TikTok shopping, we held conversations exploring how technologies optimize retail operations, enhance customer experiences, and provide valuable insights into consumer behavior. 

The biggest trend hitting the expo floor was, you guessed it, AI. But, the refreshing trend we are starting to see is AI used as more than just a buzzword. We are hearing a lot more about applied use cases, business outcomes, and tips for retailers who are looking to expand their AI capabilities. This is a core reason why RETHINK Retail and Microsoft brought our AI in Retail (AiR) Series to the show. 

Naturally, AI often leads to discussions around data, namely, the importance of collecting quality data, having the right data, and removing data silos. Adam Freehafer, Enterprise Account Executive at Simon Data notes that “There’s typically a gap between data teams and marketers where you might have really rich customer data investments or data silos that live across the entire organization. So Simon Data is a Customer Data Platform that helps by giving marketing the tools to integrate all of that data…so that you can do customer segmentation, gain customer insights, and optimize outreach methods across your end channel and communication.” 

These advancements in data selection, collection, and integration all help improve predictive modeling. Adam also noted that individuals with well-organized cloud data warehouses, along with the capacity to engage marketers and teams in their utilization, will possess a significant edge. 

Another key theme at Shoptalk was the pursuit of market expansion through diverse channels, ranging from traditional marketplaces to emerging channels and social networks. Linnworks’ recent State of Commerce Ops Report echos that retailers still focus on big players like Amazon, Walmart, and eBay, but also picking up momentum around channels like TikTok, which can be confirmed by TikTok’s massive presence at Shoptalk and other industry events.

Retailers are actively exploring avenues for growth and diversification to reach new audiences and drive revenue, but according to the report, over 51% of the interviewees viewed getting onto new marketplaces as one of the biggest challenges they’re running into today. 

I sat down with Brendan Feeney, Sr. Director of Sales, North America at Linnworks to discuss how they are helping retailers level up their tech stack and overcome these challenges. Brendan notes, “Retailers and brands want to find that next growth opportunity, but they don’t always have an easy way to do it with the tech stack that they have today.” Linnworks helps by equipping retailers with backend capabilities to control and manage inventory, orders, and fulfillment, and provides retailers with a clear path to expand into channels that they want to connect to. 

Customer engagement and experience are ongoing hot topics at any retail event. Understanding and improving the customer journey, particularly post-purchase interactions, emerged as a crucial focus area for retailers. Whether it’s personalizing experiences, utilizing two-way conversational messaging, or post-purchase feedback captured through platforms like SurveyMonkey, retailers are increasingly prioritizing customer-centric strategies to differentiate themselves in a competitive market landscape.

Michael Ahern, VP of Customer Development & Strategy at Sinch, spoke about their unified messaging solution that helps brands cover all digital and mobile channels, including email, voice, SMS, MMS, and RCS messaging. Michael states, “The enablement of both two-way conversational messaging and interaction is becoming no longer nice to have. It is now mission critical and the experience of being able to experience a brand with images and video is becoming something that I believe now is table stakes.”

He also provided insight into the RCS channel that enables features such as carousels and clickable buttons, like those you might see on WhatsApp and Facebook. According to Michael, RCS is soon to be adopted on Apple products. As such, he encourages brands to start now on the Android channel to be well-positioned for when it goes live on Apple.

Another core focus at Shoptalk was the paramount importance of prioritizing employee experience. Many argue that associate experience serves as the cornerstone from which exceptional customer experiences emerge. Jumpmind, a leader in enterprise POS software, has built its solution with the associate in mind. When associates are well equipped, retailers can build a better connection between their brand, their associates, and their customers. Built on a modern cloud foundation, their platform allows retailers to unlock opportunities to synergize sales, operations, and customer relationships.

Shoptalk 2024 was vital for industry frontrunners to further explore the fusion of technology and retail, unearthing avenues for innovation, expansion, and customer involvement. From AI-driven insights to the expansion of diverse sales channels, the event showcased the industry’s pursuit of innovation and growth. Our conversations with industry leaders underscored the critical role of technology, data, and employee empowerment in delivering exceptional customer experiences. It’s evident that the path forward in retail lies in embracing emerging technologies, fostering employee satisfaction, and prioritizing customer-centric strategies.