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Shoptalk 2023 Day Four: AI, Engagement and Omnichannel Dominate Discussions

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Coresight Research is a research partner of Shoptalk 2023, which took place during March 26–29 in Las Vegas, US. Shoptalk is an annual retail conference focusing on the trends, business models and technologies that are shaping the future of retail. We present key insights from the fourth and final day of Shoptalk 2023, focusing on artificial intelligence (AI), marketing to Gen Zers and how best to hire technology talent in 2023.

Look out for our Shoptalk 2023 wrap-up report, publishing soon. Until then, stay up to date with all of our coverage of this year’s Shoptalk event.

Shoptalk 2023 Day Four: Coresight Research Insights

Shopper Engagement: Omnichannel Marketing

With more brands, products and marketing noise than ever, retailers must provide unique shopping experiences and engaging marketing content to capture consumers’ attention and spending. How best to engage with consumers—especially Gen Zers—via marketing was the key topic of conversation at the “The Latest Omnichannel Marketing Tactics” session. Panelists at the session were:

  • Laura Knebusch, VP of Consumer Experience at Georgia-Pacific
  • Dave Spinato, VP of Global eCommerce at HARMAN International
  • Clinton Suh, Head of Ecommerce, North America, at On
  • Beth Wade, Global Chief Marketing Officer at VMLY&R

When creating engaging, omnichannel marketing campaigns, companies must first understand the steps in the omnichannel consumer journey and define their goals. When launching an omnichannel campaign, organizations must find ways to measure the effectiveness of those campaigns and implement changes if they fail to take off.

During the session, the panelists took a deep dive into how companies can market to Gen Zers specifically. According to the panel, Gen Zers rely on their social media feeds when deciding whether or not to purchase a product. Younger consumers can be a powerful force for companies if they are convinced of the power of a product—or an entire brand. To successfully market to this demographic, retailers must use social media to communicate their company identity and the value of their products to shoppers wherever they are in the shopping journey.

The “The Latest Omnichannel Marketing Tactics” session (eft to right): Wade, Spinato, Suh and Knebusch
Source: Shoptalk


Emerging Channels: Retail in an Omnichannel World

Brands, retailers and marketplaces are increasingly looking to adjust their strategies to effectively cater to consumer demand and remain competitive in the evolving retail landscape. To unlock new opportunities, they can turn to subscription and rental as alternative models, among other emerging channels. Many emerging channels were discussed in the morning session, “Pursuing New Revenue Streams and Adjacent Industries.” There, panelists dug into how companies can find—and pursue—new growth opportunities. The panel agreed that it begins by having a company culture and executive leadership team that is willing to try new ideas, enter emerging channels and has a strong vision; however, these factors must be backed up by a great data and tech team. Similar to the leadership team, this data team should have the courage to try uncommon tactics and be made up of people who are willing to fail, as well as learn from those mistakes.

When entering emerging channels, the panel cautioned companies to set up a clear, data-driven testing framework instead of just diving straight in, allowing them to better manage the risks of new ideas. Once something works, though, panelists stated that companies should add more resources to the opportunity and grow it.

The “Pursuing New Revenue Streams and Adjacent Industries” session (left to right): Jare’ Buckley-Cox, VP of Walmart Fulfillment Services at Walmart; Jessica Ringena, President at Vivid Clear Rx and SVP at Hy-Vee; Noelle Sadler, Chief Marketing Officer at ThredUP; Earnest Sweat, Venture Partner at GreatPoint Ventures
Source: Shoptalk


At the “Agency Pitch: Launching a Product Innovation in an Omnichannel World” session, three different agencies presented marketing campaign ideas for Iced Mr. Coffee, an iced-coffee-making machine, revealing how companies can innovate and market in a retail world that increasingly demands omnichannel solutions. All presenters realized that, when launching a product in a crowded sector, a company must understand its target audience, where its customers are and what channels they care most about. Regardless of the sector, when trying to have a product break through the ever-crowded omnichannel environment, the product must be more than unique—it must emotionally resonate with the intended audience.

Technology: AI Remains at the Top of Mind for Most Shoptalk Attendees

Moving forward, Coresight Research believes that in the face of current macroeconomic headwinds, strong technology investment plans will be crucial in reducing inefficiencies and driving growth. This was a central theme at this year’s Shoptalk event and was discussed in detail in the “Shoptalk Recap: Key Takeaways for 2023” session. Throughout the session, the panel discussed many technologies that are likely to change the retail landscape in 2023 and beyond. There were three panelists:

  • Krystina Gustafson, SVP of Content at Shoptalk
  • Joe Laszlo, VP of Content at Shoptalk
  • Ben Miller, Director of Original Content at Shoptalk
Gustafson (left), Laszlo (center) and Miller (right) during the “Shoptalk Recap: Key Takeaways for 2023” session
Source: Shoptalk


While the panel expects to see more technology investments for efficiency, they stated that a company must know how the technology it invests in works, what benefits it receives from the tech and, once that tech is in place, if it is working for the organization. If something is not working, the panel advised that companies should not toil endlessly trying to make it work, instead focusing on what does work.

The panel also touched on some of the most significant recent tech announcements, such as Panera announcing it will begin using Amazon One’s biometric scanning technology, which will allow the company to move between channels seamlessly. They also covered how generative AI and other AI-based applications are improving companies across their processes, from supply chains to return economics, as covered in detail in our coverage of the first day of Shoptalk 2023.

AI was also a key point of conversation for Shoptalk attendees. According to a survey presented at the panel, “generative AI and other advanced AI applications” was the topic at the “top of mind” for most Shoptalk 2023 attendees (53%) ahead of the show. The importance of this technology grew throughout the conference, with 65% of attendees stating that the topic was “the most interesting or important” of all topics discussed at the event, as seen in the image below.

The most interesting and important topics discussed at Shoptalk 2023, according to attendees
Source: Shoptalk/Coresight Research


Organizational Changes: Tech Talent Hiring Strategies

Making structural and organizational changes is crucial for retailers to remain competitive in an uncertain and challenging macroeconomic environment. Things have become even tougher as, in recent years, the competition to recruit and retain tech talent has grown incredibly intense, a topic covered in the “Attracting Top Tech Talent to Shape the Future of Retail” session. According to the session, some of the top reasons that technology employees give for wanting to leave their company include the following:

  • Seeking better career opportunities
  • Looking for a new challenge
  • Feeling underappreciated or undervalued in their current role
  • Believing that their work-life balance no longer meets an acceptable standard

Given the factors mentioned above, companies must employ effective hiring strategies to recruit the top tech talent. Panel members agreed that hiring technology talent is a long, continuous process that must include a variety of factors, such as actively sourcing passive candidates, leveraging employee networks, retailoring job descriptions, gamifying the recruiting process and increasing hiring flexibility.

While these hiring tasks require time and effort, deploying effective tech hiring strategies can increase applications by 4X, reduce application time by 85% and reduce time to hire by 50%, according to speakers at the session. They also help employers move fast, which is vital when hiring tech team members, as many applicants will often receive multiple offers from other companies quite quickly. Although recent technology layoffs have dominated the news in recent weeks, panel members reminded attendees that many of these layoffs were non-technical employees, meaning those with technology skills remain in high demand.

The “Attracting Top Tech Talent to Shape the Future of Retail” session; from left to right: Bruno Mourão, Head of IT Transformation and IT Strategy and Experimentation at MC Sonae; Nicolas Geiger, Group Business Development Executive, Americas, at L’Occitane Group; Marta Dalton, VP Data Analytics and Customer Insights at Amyris (Biossance); David Welch, Managing Director and Senior Partner at Boston Consulting Group
Source: Shoptalk


The panelists of the session “The Rise of the Creator Economy” covered how companies can better work with creatives both in and outside their organizations. Throughout the session, panel members drove home how important it is to build great relationships with creatives, as creator-founded businesses and content creation are significant trends in the current retail space. This is especially important as, according to Jasmine Enberg, Principal Analyst, Social Media, at Insider Intelligence, 45% of brands work with creators to build a library of user-generated content (UGC) while nearly one-third of brands work with creators to drive sales. Coresight Research expects UGC to play a bigger role in marketing in the future, as UGC provides three main benefits to retail marketing: it establishes trust and credibility among consumers; it helps in the creation of a community; and it saves time and money.

Once, businesses often sought to protect their brands from creators when working with them. However, panelists urged companies to rethink this strategy and instead trust creators and treat them as any other worthwhile business consultant. They also recommended companies manage their expectations around creators, stating that different key performance indicators (KPIs) to understand the effectiveness of creator-led campaigns.

“The Rise of the Creator Economy” session (left to right): Sam Wick, Head of UTA Ventures at UTA; Angela Hsu, Chief Marketing Officer at Overstock; Matt Cleary, U.S. Head of Retail and eCommerce, Global Business Solutions, at TikTok
Source: Shoptalk