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3 Key Takeaways from Shoptalk 2019

By: Julie Flower
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Shoptalk is one of the biggest industry conferences for all things retail and ecommerce: the latest trends, technologies, strategies, and changes in consumer expectations. We caught up with a few of our employees who attended last week and asked them about their main takeaways from the conference. Here’s what stood out to them:

1. Strategic partnerships are driving the best-of-breed boom

The show floor was abuzz with the topic of partnerships at Shoptalk. Whether it’s collaborating with a new brand, or partnering with historical competitors to offer a new solution, it’s clear that brands are understanding the benefits of “playing nice” with others. In fact, these kinds of partnerships are crucial to the survival of many of today’s brands. Expanding their reach to new customers and evolving their product offerings can lead to sustainable, long-term growth for brands that decide to invest in a robust partner ecosystem.

Ecommerce is quickly evolving and becoming more interconnected, and strategic partnerships are key to building best-of-breed solutions that are flexible enough to keep up. Ecommerce models that seamlessly combine the best platforms and technologies enable brands to innovate with speed and engage with their customers at a higher level.  The rising number of conversations at Shoptalk about expanding partner ecosystems is, on its own, a sign of increasing demand for integrated best-of-breed solutions that allow brands to offer the best possible customer experiences.

2. Superior customer experiences are key

From advanced personalization to fast delivery and easy returns, offering a superior customer experience is crucial for the success of today’s brands. And as today’s customers become more empowered and demanding, this is no easy feat. Erik Nordstrom, co-president of Nordstrom, addressed the pressure brands are facing to deliver these kinds of customer experiences in a keynote conversation at Shoptalk. When asked about Nordstrom’s omnichannel business, he pointed out that the company’s mindset “still revolves around satisfying the customer, regardless of channel”. They’ve learned that if you do what the customer wants, it’ll pay off in the long run.

And while the customer matters more than the channel itself, it’s important for brands to offer unified engagement across all channels and touchpoints. Interactions must be integrated and seamless to create next generation experiences for your consumers. True customer centricity – keeping your customers in mind every step of the way, on every channel – is how today’s brands can differentiate themselves from their competitors and create the best, most memorable experiences on the web.

3. Direct-to-consumer is your most strategic route to market

We’re living in the age of the consumer – the speakers and panels at Shoptalk made that clear. Consumers are more empowered than ever, and their preferences are constantly changing. The best way to keep up with evolving demands and build loyal relationships with your customers is a direct-to-consumer (D2C) channel.

Tim Armstrong, former Google ads chief and AOL CEO, spoke about the importance of D2C channels at the Recode Code Commerce event at Shoptalk. “There isn’t a DTC ceiling,” he said. “DTC will end up being a very significant part of the future.” These channels allow brands to have complete control over every stage of the shopper journey, which makes it easier to ensure superior shopping experiences.

Increasing brand loyalty

Today’s brands are thinking more about how to build connections and brand affinity through their direct channels. One of the best ways to do that? Loyalty programs. Ulta Beauty CMO Dave Kimball pointed out that 95% of the company’s total revenue comes from their Ultamates loyalty program, which has 30 million members. Loyalty programs that offer discounts and make customers feel like VIPs are a great way to build lasting relationships with your consumers and keep them coming back.

D2C channels are the most strategic route to market and ensure frictionless experiences for your shoppers. When brands adopt a D2C mindset, they’ll start worrying less about the different channels and markets they serve and worry more about providing the best customer experience possible.

The future of commerce is ever-evolving and staying on top of key trends and consumer preferences is the best way for brands to keep up. Contact us to discuss how Digital River can be a trusted partner in helping you navigate ecommerce on a global scale.