Shoptalk 2019: It Takes More Than Tech

by Mar 15, 2019

As ten thousand people gathered in Las Vegas this year to talk about retail and e-commerce, Shockoe met with companies small and large to talk about one thing: how to make shopping better. A booming US economy has set a high bar for vendors and retailers to innovate — evident by the sea of vendor tables delivering SaaS products and new technologies to optimize everything from communication to sizing, supply chain to retail display. Innovation was ubiquitous — eight-foot-tall robots could read name tags and spurt out a “hello Jaime” (granted, with improper pronunciation), and Roomba-like product can now sweep the aisles of a store to ensure stock numbers are up to date. It’s an extraordinary and competitive time for retail, but in a large way, it feels like a technology arms race.

Digital technology is still the largest influencer on the industry but simultaneously poses as one of the largest hurdles for retailers to overcome today. Virtually no brick and mortar store is immune to the impact of digital tools and the way in which people consume and explore products. Stephen and I had a chance to meet with vendors focused on analytics, returns, fulfillment, reviews, packing, sizing — and that is naming a few. Every nook and cranny of the supply chain and retail process seemed to have a way to improve an existing process and provide better business results.

What should retailers care about?

For as many vendors that were present, talks seemed to take a step back from the many products in the exhibition room. Speakers focused their concerns on the customer, and rightfully so. It was easy to forget as you roamed the jam-packed exhibit hall at the Venitian that the ultimate focus is not about the retailer, but about the customer. Omni-channel, Gen-Z, and Brand Loyalty were king when it came to speakers — how can you provide a better shopping experience to today’s informed and able consumer?

Which takes us into our table talks. Shockoe had a chance to meet with a dozen retail companies to discuss an array of digital needs — but the one thread emerged consistently in every conversation: to provide an impactful mobile experience.

How can I better engage my customers?

Shopping has always been about providing a brand experience, and with transformative tools such as mobile and voice, companies are scrambling to win their digital market share by extending that experience into customer devices. What we shared with representatives from Nintendo, Levis, Lagunitas and other is that you should always think of digital three ways:

The quick and Infrequent interaction: What time does this restaurant open? Does this store carry? Look to responsive and mobile web — when a customer needs a simple and quick answer from your company, ensure they are met with little resistance and can walk away with the desired information and increase the chance of a later exchange.

Transactional interaction: Did my mortgage payment post? The last thing people want on their phone is a dozen apps for information that is sought a handful of times per year. Yet, when it’s needed, you must ensure they can access it — Progressive Web Apps (PWA) are a popular way for brands to deliver the right result at the right time — without the pressure of installing an app.

Utility: Did John reply? Do I have enough in my checking? I’ll add it to my shopping cart. Shockoe’s bread and butter — creating apps, voice skills, and AR tools to deliver a regular and impactful experience to users. Apps can be a dime a dozen, which is why people are becoming more critical of what lives on their phone. For Shockoe, it’s not about creating an app, it’s about solving a problem and improving the way in which someone operates — this can be tricky to pin down even for the most established companies.

So what’s next?

As more SaaS tools, hardware, and emerging technologies come into play, companies should be cautious of getting swept up in a sea of tools — the most critical consideration should always remain to provide a brand experience to customers that is on par with their expectations of the company.

Future years of Shoptalk will focus on this: consolidating and bringing tools and innovations into an ecosystem of technology that aims to optimize the customer experience, from the mobile store interaction down the way items are picked, selected, and delivered. Shockoe can be that partner today — our team focuses not on delivering mobile, but rather, identifying the right use cases that can deliver the business cases to help your business grow and your customer delight in their experience. Whether optimizing a warehouse, driving repeat business through loyalty and application features, or improving the omnichannel experience for customers, we’ve got your back.

Want to learn more about what we were speaking about at ShopTalk? View some of our case studies