The 2023 edition of Shoptalk Europe in Barcelona started with a bang, bringing together the brightest minds in retail and Ecommerce to deliberate on the industry's current challenges and future opportunities.
The first day was filled with enlightening conversations on various topics, from harnessing customer data for personalised experiences to streamlining online product search and discovery. Here are the major insights garnered from the day's proceedings.
The first day at Shoptalk Europe focused on how brands and retailers can address the high expectations of today's discerning consumers. Mainly, how data analytics has optimised customer acquisition, retention, and sales by companies creating personalised shopper journeys and ensuring a seamless omnichannel purchase experience.
Rising to meet enhanced consumer expectations
The day's first segment focused on how brands and retailers can address the high expectations of today's discerning consumers. A crucial emerging theme was the potential of customer data in curating extraordinary experiences. Executives shared how data analytics had optimised customer acquisition, retention, and sales by personalising shopper journeys and ensuring a seamless omnichannel purchase experience.
A spotlight was also cast on the circular economy and the growing second-hand markets, a sector expected to grow by 12% annually in Europe. From launching buy-back programs like IKEA to upcycling initiatives, retailers are exploring creative ways to harness this trend, promoting sustainability in the process.
A session with H&M, John Lewis and Seraphine highlighted that we are moving away from the omnichannel concept towards unified commerce. Unified commerce focuses on customer behaviour. It aims to match the retailer's strategy to the customer's shopping habits, rather than the other way around. In a unified commerce concept only one truth exists and it is transparent in all channels and updated in real time regardless of channel. By that, you can focus on the customer, not the channel, and deliver a seamless journey.
Lastly, catering to Gen Z's preferences was a key theme, emphasising the importance of authenticity and sustainability to this demographic. Gen Z, being the world's largest generation, represents a significant opportunity for retailers and brands. Companies that develop products and offerings that resonate with this digitally-native group have a higher potential to capture their attention and loyalty.
- Out with omnichannel, in with unified commerce: we are moving away from the omnichannel concept and embracing unified commerce
- Growth of the second-hand market: the circular economy and the second hand market are increasingly critical areas for retailers
- Gen Z's preference for authenticity and sustainability: emphasising the need for authenticity, sustainability, and exploration of new platforms and channels to captivate this digitally savvy demographic
Rethinking grocery and FMCG industries
The day's second segment centred on the grocery and FMCG sectors, highlighting the significance of effective merchandising and product discovery. Modern consumers seek to uncover new, innovative products without sacrificing familiarity with their preferred brands. Retailers are responding by expanding private label offerings, securing exclusive products, and leveraging data insights to ensure they stock the right selection and volume of consumer-favoured brand products.
Discussions also highlighted the necessity for a seamless experience across channels, as more consumers embrace a hybrid model of in-store and online shopping. Retailers are consequently bridging the gap between online and offline data and adopting new capabilities to optimally serve today's consumers.
The day's second segment centred on the grocery and FMCG sectors, highlighting the significance of effective merchandising and product discovery as modern consumers seek to uncover new, innovative products without sacrificing familiarity with their preferred brands.
Retailers and brands are increasingly leveraging customer data to create personalised experiences. Retailers like Maxi Zoo and Holland & Barrett have introduced loyalty programs and apps to track customer behaviour across both online and offline operations, allowing them to understand customer needs across different channels and tailor experiences accordingly.
"Artificial intelligence also holds exciting potential for enhancing the online shopping experience. Generative AI, which uses large language models, can make the journey more fun, relevant, and personal for customers. Amazon is already leveraging this technology to improve the customer experience and at Carrefour it has risen to top of mind", says Valérie Legat, Chief Digital Factory Officer at Carrefour.
Retail media, through its integration of data and technology, is transforming the retail landscape. Westfield exemplifies this trend with its GDPR-compliant camera systems that provide real-time data for personalised customer experiences, leading to a 10% increase in footfall and a 14% uptick in total sales. They creatively utilise real-time data to inform customers about available cinema seats or pollen counts, enhancing customer engagement. These examples underscore the power of retail media in revolutionising retail experiences and boosting sales. Brands benefit through rich consumer data returned to them to help innovate their product offerings.
As consumers become increasingly concerned with sustainability, brands are also recognising the importance of implementing sustainable initiatives. During a recent retail conference, Adidas, Danone, and Zalando emphasised the need for transparency and authenticity in promoting sustainability. It's not enough to just pay lip service to the concept of "doing good," retailers must truly demonstrate their commitment to the cause and make it a core part of their message.
- Omnichannel product search and discovery are significant for profitability. Retailers need to transition in-store customers to e-commerce to generate more value, and personalisation can lead to higher frequent purchases and time-efficiency
- Rise of personalised experiences: retailers and brands are increasingly leveraging customer data to create unified personalised experiences. The ultimate goal of gathering and analysing customer data is to personalise the customer experience and increase the lifetime value of each customer
- The power of AI in automatically generating content for online channels is significant, and generative AI can enhance the customer experience and efficiency in running digital initiatives
- The possibilities of AI are endless. Synthesising various AI systems to create a customised journey for each customer is the way forward
- Establish unified KPIs: identify the right KPIs for a unified retail world, merging in-store and online KPIs to create a comprehensive digital view, which helps train staff in the digital overlay and promotes better integration
- Role of data in meeting customer needs: data-centricity was recognised as a key strategy for the grocery and FMCG industries. Retailers are using data to understand and meet different customer shopping behaviours, creating a seamless experience across all channels, including in-store, online, and via phone
- Expanding services in health and wellness: companies in the health and wellness sector are broadening their services to provide more value to customers. For example, Holland & Barrett introduced services like at-home blood tests and fertility testing, positioning the business as a health and wellness companion rather than just a product seller
- The exponential growth of retail media: retail media, a rapidly growing marketing strategy, provides brands with unique opportunities to engage with consumers directly within their shopping journey, driving personalised interactions, gaining consumer insights and increasing sales.
Navigating a challenging global economy
The day's third segment examined the economic challenges confronting retailers and brands. The session provided unbiased research into the current economic state, enabling attendees to discern the realities behind conflicting reports of economic boom and bust.
Established retailers and brands are also experiencing heightened scrutiny of their financial performance, leading to a renewed focus on operational efficiency and profitability.
Spotlight on retail and technology innovation
The final segment of the day focused on retail technology innovation. Among the emerging themes was the need for startups to prioritise profitability in the face of economic uncertainties. Established retailers and brands are also experiencing heightened scrutiny of their financial performance, leading to a renewed focus on operational efficiency and profitability. Discussions also touched upon the challenges of cross-border retail, including language, localisation, cultural differences, supply chain complexities, and currency fluctuations.
Day 1 of Shoptalk Europe 2023 was an enriching day, packed with enlightening talks and discussions. From leveraging customer data for enhanced personal experiences to streamlining online product search and discovery, the need for retailers to adopt innovative strategies and technologies was clear.
Despite the significant challenges facing the industry, the dialogues at Shoptalk offered valuable insights and strategies to navigate the evolving retail landscape successfully.