Notes From Shoptalk 2018


A team from Netrush attended Shoptalk 2018, an event that focuses on the technology, trends, and behaviors impacting retail. This year’s edition brought over 8,000 attendees and keynote speakers to Las Vegas, which proved an apt setting for the frantic four-day agenda. For us, the show provided a great opportunity to meet brands, challenge our assumptions, confirm others, and take the pulse of retail technologies.

In today’s short post, we’ve outlined our key takeaways and observations.

Mixed Pulse

The pulse of retail is… erratic. When you have opinions about the retail sector spanning from apocalyptic disruption to slow, predictable growth, it amounts to a large, uneven spread. Notable is the absence of the word Amazon from most sessions — at least not proportional to what you would see in the Wall Street Journal every day, so this is what the retail-e-commerce-technology nexus looks like when you filter for no Amazon. When you turn off the blinding light of Amazon growth, it turns out there are a lot of significant things going on.

Consumer Obsession

Everything revolves around how well we understand the consumer. Also, there is a clear emerging power of AI to replace or improve current processes. Big changes may require collaboration. For example, Kellogg’s put forth an interesting idea: creating industry-wide standards across a category so there’s a single package for e-commerce. This also helps enable things like robots picking the right product every time.

Technologies like Amazon Go and advanced payment technology have already bloomed in China. A reminder that the world is big and when you filter for no US, there are a lot of advances in retail. Chinese shopping holidays focus on engagement, entertainment, and celebrity — making shopping fun, in contrast to the highly promotional retail holidays in the US that have trade-offs with profitability.

Supply chain was another common theme. It’s closer than ever before to being the main conversation as it’s often the missing link between great ideas and consumers.

A Greater Ecosystem

E-commerce is an ecosystem, made of pieces: payment, supply chain, marketplaces, advertising, social, devices, the list goes on — we’re at the stage where brands, retailers, and manufacturers are figuring out how to put everything together and point it at the consumer. Those who are further ahead have found a way to do this.