After 5 days in Vegas, 80 sessions and countless conversations with retail leaders, analysts and reporters, here are the hottest topics and most important takeaways from Shoptalk 2023.

  1. The macroeconomic environment was a heavy point of discussion, yet on stage and in the hallways, the tone was optimistic.
    For brands and retailers, there was an underlying sense of optimism, but also a focus on practicality. Many of our conversations focused on prioritization of key, margin impacting customer offerings. Rather than chasing competitors or the industry, brands and retailers are focused heavily on their own customer data and feedback to determine what services (same day delivery, free returns, curbside pickup, free styling services, etc.) are mandatory, and which should be sunsetted as customer behaviors shift and margin protections are prioritized.

  2. Building organizations that are both highly performing AND led with empathy was front and center
    From Mary Dillon, CEO of Foot Locker, taking her third CEO role because she feels she can still make a real impact to Parth Raval, the Chief Growth Officer of Pepsi Co Foods North America saying that he starts every meeting with expressions of gratitude… the last few years have changed executives’ focus.

  3. Generative AI is both hype and reality.
    Out of the 80 content sessions, we would venture to say Generative AI came up in at least 30. If the buzz in the hallways this week was an indication, we bet that number increases to 60 by Shoptalk Europe this May. In related news, last year’s hot topic, the Metaverse, was barely mentioned.

    Our friends at Coresight Research let us know that the topic of Generative AI and other advanced AI applications actually grew during the show, top of mind with 53% of attendees before the show, and growing to 65% of attendees ranking it the “most interesting or important” topic discussed onsite.

  4. Commerce Everywhere has overtaken "omnichannel".
    Rather than conversations about the constructs we’ve created in retail around channels, the conversation was about the shoppers’ points of view. Call it Commerce Everywhere, Seamless Shopping, or Unified Commerce, but organizations and executives are aligning around the customer rather than around the channel.

  1. Improving the economics of returns is an issue that must be addressed across the industry.
    Although there weren’t full solutions on reducing returns, there was more conversation than ever and discussion of new ideas. Those ranged the gamut from customer collaboration on product design, to marketing, to technology shifts. 

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