Leaving Las Vegas: Shoptalk goes out with a bang

Four days of retail-o-rama wrapped up Wednesday with more than 5,000 attendees leaving a little smarter, a little more tired and just a wee bit ready to head home.

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  1. We're not saying everyone at Shoptalk 2017 had the chance to bust out of the Aria terrarium and see the light of day. But those who did found that Las Vegas has a light show that can put the luminosity of The Strip to shame. (Photo: Kevin Cochrane)
  2. If nothing else the half-week in Las Vegas underlined the rapid and dramatic evolution of retail and digital retail in particular. Consumers are no longer looking for brands or even dead set on discounts (though they still really, really like them). What consumers want is an experience and retailers are scrambling to figure out how to create, build or buy a way to provide a memorable and cohesive experience for their customers. Exhibit 1 of many: ModCloth is now Jet, which is now Walmart. More change to come, no doubt.
  3. At ShopTalk, the 800 pound gorilla (or is it the elephant?) was actually in the room. Often scarce at retail shows, Amazon was front and center at Shoptalk 2017. No sense burying your head in the sand. (That would be an ostrich. So, we've got a gorilla, an elephant and an ostrich. This really is Las Vegas!) Amazon is a force to be reckoned with. But as we've said many times before, the way to reckon is to provide an experience that Amazon doesn't provide and/or to sell stuff that Amazon doesn't sell.
  4. And where have we heard that Amazon advice? Oh yeah....
  5. Target is going all-in (it's a Vegas saying) on experience, trying out a store with separate entrances for those who want to get in and out quickly and for those who want to browse and do a little recreational shopping. The in-and-out crowd will be offered an opportunity to pick up online orders or wait in their cars for their orders to come to them. Brilliant.
  6. And shoppers might be getting a makeover, too. Check out this demo of a grocery shopper. Good lord, this could be trouble. When we think about the number of times we're rammed into by distracted shoppers at Safeway as it is, this goggled grocery grabbing could be a blood bath.
  7. And there are some more fundamental changes on the way.
  8. The show was also a reminder that the key to building a fabulous experience is personalization. The word has been roughed up a lot in recent years, with personalization meaning different things to different people. (AI is about to get the same treatment.) But retailers are pretty much finished playing games. Personalization today means a one-to-one understanding of customers, their preferences, desires and intents. It takes machines (yes, AI) to be done at scale and it is mandatory in the eyes of consumers.
  9. Honored to have participated on the #ShopTalk panel on personalizing consumer experiences.
    Honored to have participated on the #ShopTalk panel on personalizing consumer experiences.
  10. Not to put too fine a point on it.
  11. Again, we didn't say that discounts weren't a thing, just that shoppers might place as much importance on experience. In fact, wouldn't building better experiences be a good way to reduce the importance of discounts in attracting shoppers — and more importantly — buyers?
  12. Anybody seen my robot? It was here a minute ago....
  13. Robot traversing the elevator. Some cool #shoptalk tech
  14. This would be the part of the program where ordinarily we'd give some ideas of what to see today....
  15. We know a lot of people worked really hard, while maybe finding time for some fun. (And yeah, we're playing favorites with the tweet below. So, sue us. No, please don't.)
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