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Shoptalk 2022 Recap – 7 Key Takeaways


Shoptalk 2022, touted as the “Retails Big Reunion,” lived up to its name. From Mar 27th -30th at Mandalay Bay, Las Vegas. With travel bans lifted and the industry ready to return, the exuberance level at the show was off the charts. Held annually in Las Vegas, Shoptalk is the biggest gathering of individuals and companies reshaping how retail consumers discover, shop, and buy. The event provided a perfect platform for large retailers, brands, startups, investors, and tech companies to learn, network, and collaborate. Now into its seventh year, Shoptalk was founded in 2015 by Anil D. Aggarwal and Simran Rekhi Aggarwal and acquired in 2019 by Hyve Group, plc. McFadyen Digital was a participant at the show, and here we bring you all the action from the front lines.

Why Is SHOPTALK a Retail Industry Mega Event?

Let’s look at why Shoptalk is called a retail industry mega event:

1. Over 10,000 people in the form of retailers, brands, and solution partners attended this edition of Shoptalk, which is happening after three years (owing to pandemic restrictions last two events were digital meet-ups) in physical space.

2. Across the four days, there were 80 sessions with 250 speakers from diverse industry backgrounds sharing their knowledge and insights.

3. This year’s edition featured brand new Shoptalk Original Content—this includes 100% independent research, data, frameworks, benchmarking studies, and visual guides developed in-house by the Shoptalk team.

4. Some of the critical areas of learning for the attendees included Groundbreaking Digital Experiences, The Transformation of Physical Retail, The Changing Consumer, Innovative Growth Strategies, and more.

5. The event had the best parties and networking opportunities for all; this included Sunday night’s Party at The Park and Tuesday’s Whiteout Beach Party featuring legendary Flo Rida.

Seven Key Themes & Takeaways

Shoptalk’s agenda covered the latest in innovation, technology, retail trends, and business models. This meant everything from apparel and electronics to beauty and grocery. It provided the attendees with a comprehensive view of the future of retail innovation. Let’s look at some of the key themes and takeaways.

  1. New Platforms & Channels – The concept of omnichannel is slowly giving way to new platforms and channels. Some of these new channels include Livestream shopping and transactions in the Metaverse. Shoptalk further supported this via original research they commissioned through Coresight Research. Then there was also Shoptalk’s first-ever original documentary. As much as 74% of the attendees mentioned that they were topics around the new channels and platforms that were the most interesting and exciting to them.
  2. Metaverse in entering Brand Consciousness – While some may think it’s premature to think about a brand strategy for Metaverse, some brands are already investing there not just in terms of technology but also in thinking, by the way, new avatars and community building in the virtual world. “You’ve got to be playing there. If you’re not thinking about it, you’re behind already.” This is what Coresight Fashion and Luxury Managing Director Marie Driscoll had to say about the Metaverse. The debut of Shoptalk’s original documentary on the Retail’s Metaverse Opportunity was very well received by the audience.
  3. The Big Comeback of Physical Stores – Pandemic restrictions have helped online stores boost sales and discover innovative ways to deliver products and services in the last two years. This has allowed brick-mortar stores to rethink their position and value in the overall scheme of retail things, and now they are back and how. Now the stores are redefining their role from a customer experience standpoint and going broader and emphasizing their role in fulfillment, culture, and even community. This was a key takeaway from the sessions with panelists Marie Driscoll, Steph Wissink, and Lockie Andrews. As per the audience poll conducted by Shoptalk, 39% of participants said the store’s future was one of the most exciting and important topics at the conference. Speakers like the CEO of Toys R Us, the president of Savage X Fenty, and the co-founder & co-CEO of Warby Parker, amongst others, expressed the same sentiment for physical retail.
  4. Supply Chain As Customer Facing – During the pandemic, the supply chain has been one of the worst-hit areas, with all the disruptions like port congestion, capacity shortage, and even inflation. As per the leaders speaking around this topic, it didn’t seem like the pain would go away anytime soon, but they were looking at new technologies and innovations in the supply chain to ease the pain a bit. Another key takeaway from one of the other sessions suggested writing some new rules for the Supply Chain function. This indicated that the supply chain should be a customer-facing role and be viewed as a profit center instead of a cost center. Many big retail brands are now adding chief supply chain officers to the executive leadership team, American Eagle Outfitters is doing it, and Macy’s has already done it.
  5. Data, Personalization & Loyalty – One of the key themes of the Shoptalk sessions was how important it is to create personalized experiences while respecting the boundaries of privacy and ensuring customer health. The real challenge is how do you tenderly nurture a single relationship rather than just pigeonholing them into a demographic bracket. Deb Sperling, content manager at Shoptalk, summed it up nicely when she said, “the next generation of brands and retailers can delight each customer by giving them exactly what they want.” While on this topic, there was also the talk about zero-party data, the data a customer share voluntarily with brands. Consumers today are open to providing personal data in exchange for value, which will be a big thing in the post-cookie era.
  6. AI & Machine Learning – Well, no session can be complete with the mention of AI and Machine Learning. Jokes aside, retailers and brands today have access to technologies that weren’t thought to be possible just a few years ago, and that has changed the game. “All companies are tech companies, and the underlying technology for all companies is data.” That’s the exciting question RICH Hair Care CEO Lockie Andrews raised. It would help if you had the power of advanced AI and machine learning to draw insights from the vast amounts of data retailers and brands possess. But the actions on these insights need a deep human-centric touch.
  7. Sustainability and Purpose – This was a theme of almost every session at Shoptalk 2022; many brands and retailers emphasized its importance. For instance, James Reinhart, Co-founder & CEO of thredUP, and Gina Drosos, CEO of Signet, both stressed the importance of extending the product lifespans beyond firsthand ownership. Both brands and retailers must have a solid reverse logistics infrastructure and partnership to provide customers with ultimate ease of use to make this happen. Other themes discussed around this were the importance of reducing plastic usage, using sustainable materials, and doing good for the planet through regenerative practices.

In the words of Tom McFadyen, CEO of McFadyen Digital, “It’s hard to capture even a fraction of the insights from 250 speakers in 80 sessions,” and the same holds for this blog post as it is pretty challenging to sift through just seven takeaways from loads of fantastic sessions. Tom has also summarized a few eCommerce/ marketplace discussions on his Linked post.

Shoptalk is growing and scaling with each passing year with limitless learning and learning opportunities, while all the great insights are sinking in, we can’t wait for the event to return next year.

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