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Recapping Shoptalk 2016 and Why it’s a Worth-It Event

Posted by Mollie Spilman

Whenever you head to a first-time industry event, you don’t know exactly what you’re going to get. But, after my colleagues and I spent three days at the debut Shoptalk conference, which dubbed itself as “the nextgen commerce event,” in Las Vegas earlier this month – we’re confident that this one is a keeper. With more than 3,000 attendees and an impressive speaker lineup, we were all pleased to leave with new insights and ideas about where retail is headed in the short and long term, and what needs to be done to get ahead.

One highlight for me in particular was participating in the Innovations in Consumer Targeting panel session on Tuesday along with speakers from HookLogic, Oracle and Persado. On stage, we held an informative discussion on topics ranging from how to galvanize conversations with new clients, to what we see as the key change drivers in e-commerce. However, the most dominant theme throughout the conversation was how attribution and organization are some of the biggest marketing challenges right now.

Everyone on the panel agreed that attribution is getting both more important and more complex as marketers are faced with paralyzing amounts of data from a growing array of channels. Retailers are also having to rethink how they structure their organizations to ensure a buying experience that is coordinated and seamless for the consumer, yet also segmented for attribution--with relevant KPIs at each step.

Outside of the Innovations in Consumer Targeting panel, four topics emerged throughout the conference that are worth sharing, as well:

Retail disruption: New players are shaking things up with mobile and app-based innovations, vertical integration, re-commerce (e.g. The RealReal, Tradesy and ThredUp), subscription-based e-tail (think StitchFix, Birchbox, Five Four and Dollar Shave Cub), and disintermediation with companies like Casper.com. Interestingly, with these new business models are emerging new KPIs that go beyond COS/ROAS--bringing even more guests to the already complex attribution party.

All things Amazon: Panel after panel mentioned Amazon as the biggest threat to retail. For advertisers, Amazon Prime is disrupting the traditional model of search and click. Retailers must decide whether to compete against or sell through Amazon, while manufacturers are worried about how to retain control of their brands in an Amazon-dominated marketplace.

Branding versus sales: Brands are beginning to see the online presence as valuable for much more than just the sales it generates. The difficulty of controlling product information and content on diverse sales channels and coming to terms with inevitable low-balling were just a few of the problems raised. Some retailers are looking for ways to create uniquely appealing experiences on their own properties as a way to draw consumers away from the channel and regain control of their brands--and customer interactions. 

Mobile is top priority: For me and especially Criteo retail clients, the most important topic right now remains mobile—also heard often during Shoptalk. Mobile devices have become our personal shoppers, our buying platforms and our payment machines. In many parts of the world, the mobile device is the sole computer and access point to the web. And, according to our research, a staggering four out of every 10 transactions are completed on mobile devices. As mobile continues to grow, companies are struggling with how to understand its place in their business and marketing plans. More and more, e-commerce is mobile commerce, and here at Criteo we will continue to help and enable our advertisers to embrace it and build relationships with today’s mobile consumers.