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Shoptalk Europe’s Big 3 for 2023

With less than two months to go until Shoptalk Europe 2023, three big e-commerce themes are emerging that will dominate the discussion at the show this 9-11 May Barcelona

  • Shopper’s desire to be entertained
  • The need to provide both continuous and frictionless shopping experiences 
  • How relationships are changing across retail

More than 175 of the industry’s biggest and boldest players have been carefully handpicked to be speaking at Shoptalk Europe, all focused on retail innovation and digital transformation. Their selection fuels thousands of conversations with senior retailers, brands, technology companies and investors, and from these discussions a narrative evolves of the most important trends.

Here are the three big topics you can expect to be hearing about at Europe’s greatest retail show; themes that look beyond the day-to-day operating pressures, to the topics, technologies and business models that will define the future of retail.

Let me entertain you

The first opportunity for retailers and brands comes from new routes to engage their shoppers. E-commerce has significantly improved the buying experience for shoppers, making transactions easier and quicker. 

Yet retailers still haven’t quite cracked the code on making online shopping as engaging as the physical store. Product discoverability and inspiration is harder online than in-store, the whole experience is often less fun.

This challenge is becoming increasingly important as shoppers return to physical stores in greater numbers, and as entertainment becomes an increasingly important online user mission. This is more noticeable for younger generations, the growth of TikTok being driven by digitally-native and savvy Gen Z.

The opportunity therefore lies in grasping new tools that are developing to add more entertainment and inspiration into your e-commerce proposition. These include shoppable video, Web 3.0 technologies and Generative AI.

Livestreaming remains small in Europe, with no evidence of growth towards the scale it offers retailers and brands in China. But for some product categories, especially beauty, it is providing a growth opportunity, especially broad shoppable video embedding into retailers own websites rather than third party ‘walled gardens’.

It strongly appears that we are well past the peak of Gartner’s “Hype Cycle” peak for Metaverse, however Web 3.0 technologies, such as Augmented and Virtual Reality powered by Computer Vision and Artificial Intelligence are delivering real value to retailers. Virtual Fit technologies for apparel retailers and virtual rooms for furniture and homewares stand out.

Meanwhile the Hype Curve for Generative AI is far from at its peak. We believe this technology has transformative potential for retail, from enabling 24/7 intelligent and personalised support to creating the volume of copy and creative that will enable you to be present wherever your shoppers are looking for you.

Seamless Shopping

This desire for engagement is also driving the latest swing in a core pendulum of retail; on the one side is the imperative to provide convenience, on the other entertainment. It’s a pendulum that has swung dramatically in recent years, when physical flagship store formats pre-pandemic were increasingly all about entertainment, to then focusing on hygiene, efficiency and the rapid deployment of collection services.

Now we see the pendulum settling centrally, retailers balancing offering both convenience and inspiration, with the desire for convenience having been defined by the ease of online buying. 

Most pertinent to multichannel retailers is shoppers’ demand for “continuous” shopping experiences, where the shopping journey is unified from online to offline. This manifests itself through a range of customer requirements: consistent product information, live inventory visibility, online order and return automation, and personalised communication.

One conversation we look forward to at Shoptalk Europe is the role of the front-line retail worker, the store associate, to help enable and unlock these continuous experiences, and personalisation at scale.

Relationships re-defined

Whilst growth forecasts differ by market, retail sector, and forecast author, one common trend is that e-commerce share of total retail sales have declined from their elevated pandemic levels. The hope of ongoing exponential growth to unlock profitability through scale economies and delivery densities has similarly declined.

Increasing numbers of retailers are therefore turning to seek e-commerce profitability from adjacent revenue streams, and these in turn are redefining retailer relationships.

Firstly the trading relationships between retailers and suppliers are being impacted by the growth of Retail Media Networks. This “third wave” of digital advertising is leading retailers to become sellers of solutions rather than buyers of products, and suppliers to be both sellers of products and buyers of advertising.

Meanwhile, retailers are driving distribution scale economies through so-called Collaborative Commerce Networks, selling services to other retailers, generating difficult ‘frenemy’ decisions for all involved.

Interested in learning more about any of these fascinating topics set to define the future of e-commerce? Join us for three days in Barcelona at Shoptalk Europe 2023, this 9 to 11 May, and hear from leading retailers, brands and technology companies tackling all these and so many more. See you there. 

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