Shoptalk 2018

Adapt or Perish: Shoptalk 2018 Highlighted Threats to Low-Tech Retailers

by Jenna Sindle

Last month, the Retail Technology Insider team covered some of the top takeaways from Shoptalk 2018, looking specifically at how retailers are planning to hybridize their shopping experience and appeal to technological preferences of shoppers today, as told by attendee tweets.

Upon his return from Shoptalk 2018, we spoke with Doug Harrell, VP at Pitney Bowes, about what the show had to offer this year and to which technological trends retailers need to be paying attention. He spoke largely about the power of data and how having a granular, deep understanding of each and every customer empowers retailers on a level that was not possible a decade ago.

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“Data is the new currency,” Harrell explained to RTI as one of the most notable themes of Shoptalk 2018. With increases in hyper-personalization and targeted marketing efforts, this isn’t entirely surprising, but it’s important to really grasp the magnitude of customer data and how it’s grown in recent years. Several show sessions revolved around customer data translating into more effective loyalty approaches.

And with that data dependency, retailers know that they simply must adopt technologies that move the needle for their customer experience. However, some might argue that the industry as a whole has been slow to evolve on that front.

“Traditional retailers have never been known for being leading edge when it comes to technology,” stated Harrell. “However, as speed-to-market, relevant targeting, and customer experience become critical to long-term success, investments in technology are required for any retailer to survive in today’s environment.” Harrell identified this as one of the top lessons to be learned among big box retailers like Nordstrom and Toys R Us.

It’s no surprise that with such massive shifts happening among long-standing retailers, decision makers present at Shoptalk 2018 had a lot to say about tech adoption and adapting to survive. The theme of tech adoption dominated panels and discussions at the show according to Harrell.

“‘Omnichannel’, ‘customer-centric’, ‘360-degree view of your customer.’ These are all terms that both vendors and customers are attempting to understand as they look to survive in the new paradigm,” he said.

And to top it all off, goliaths like Amazon are shaking-up the way things are done in brick-and-mortar stores with offerings like Amazon Go. This new level of competition among more traditional retailers is forcing them to up their game and pay close attention to what customers expect in their shopping experience.

Following Shoptalk 2018, Harrell reflected, “Speed, ease of use, accuracy and CX are all initiatives that retailers must address and prioritize. Amazon has altered the landscape. With them now moving into the brick-and-mortar world, it’s absolutely crucial that retailers create a unique relationship and identify with their customers. Aligning their online and in-store experiences are the key to long term success.”

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