By John Dee - President, Resident PlaceWise DJ, Podcaster and Hockey Fan
Shoptalk 2019 is here - and it’s bigger and better than ever! This year, more than 8000 people are expected to attend Shoptalk. There is so much content at Shoptalk now, it’s hard to get a sense of all trending topics, so I’ll share what I picked up:
Day 1: Recode held its annual Code Commerce event on Sunday night. Kara Swisher and Jason Del Rey had conversations with:
Helena Foulkes, CEO of Hudson’s Bay Company, who is focused on turning around the Saks, Hudson’s Bay, and Lord and Taylor stores through internal reinvention and finding unique partners to build in-store experiences.
Tim Armstrong, former digital kingpin at Verizon (AOL/Oath). He’s now backing unique direct-to-consumer (DTC) brands as an investor and ecosystem builder. He planted some seeds about building sales channels into the heartland, eschewing the massive top media markets. He’s planning a unique experiential concept that would find its home in the middle of the country. We’ll stay tuned for updates.
Day 2: Lots of talk about the following:
DTC Brands - I think the industry is in full adoration with some of these highly successful brands that have used content to grow first party interactions, which they then leverage to expand their audience.
AI and Machine Learning - Big data can’t be treated with traditional data analysis. Humans need to define the outcomes they want and allow the machine learning to figure out how to effectively achieve those outcomes.
The Evolution of the Retail Store - Lots of talk about how traditional stores are evolving. Design, new business models, store tech demos abound, cameras, robots and China too - who just keeps reinventing how retail is done.
Privacy - As in any industry that collects data, this is a hot topic this year. It’s now a C-suite issue as regulations begin to take hold. Everyone needs to be fair and legal.
**Also** - Gap Inc. CEO, Art Peck, talked about how big Gap, Inc. actually is and how spinning out Old Navy on its own will create two thriving retail companies. And while Gap is closing underperforming stores, they are also opening new stores in the right markets. He mentioned opening stores in new locations and made a comment that while some malls have good traffic, it is less productive than it was in the past (yes - this was said), seeming to blame some of their woes on their landlords. Hmmm…maybe make cooler clothes?