BY PARWEEZ MULBOCUS
Shoptalk Europe 2023 is an annual retail conference and exhibition held in Barcelona, Spain. It serves as a gathering for global retail leaders, offering a platform to discuss industry trends, innovations, and strategies. The event features a diverse program of 200 speakers, panels, workshops, and networking opportunities, bringing together over +3000 decision-makers from 55 countries and last over 3 days (9th to 11th of May 2023)
Shoptalk Europe 2023 in numbers
These interconnected themes permeated the conference and are essential for brands to cultivate a seamless omnichannel experience for their customers
- Personalisation: The New Currency of Retail
- Moving from omnichannel commerce to unified commerce
- The Industry intensifies sustainability efforts despite economic challenges
- Technology and AI are improving internal operations and creating new experiences o Data continues to be the key enabler of growth and innovation in retail
The New Currency of Retail
Personalisation took centre stage at Shoptalk Europe 2023, as retailers and brands showcased their efforts to create tailored experiences using customer data.
Printemps underwent a cultural transformation, implementing initiatives such as virtual stores, personalised shopper pages, immersive video tours, and exploring NFTs. Mytheresa and Ahold Delhaize strongly emphasize their commitment to personalisation and the crucial role of establishing consumer trust in data sharing. Ahold has introduced AD Retail Media, a dedicated platform for delivering personalised experiences to non-endemic advertisers. Industry experts, including Benjamin Thompson from Endeavour Group, also emphasised the importance of personalisation in retail media for providing relevant discovery experiences.
Collaboration and addressing fragmentation were crucial factors in driving personalisation efforts, aiming to leverage customer data and technology to enhance satisfaction, loyalty, and the overall modernisation of the retail industry. This involved upgrading solutions, choosing between best-of-breed or pre- packaged options, deciding on internal development or outsourcing, and navigating brownfield or greenfield transformations to deliver an improved consumer experience.
- Personalisation is a crucial strategy for retailers and brands to create tailored experiences and enhance customer satisfaction and loyalty.
- Collaboration and addressing fragmentation in retail media are essential for advancing personalisation efforts and leveraging customer data and technology effectively.
- Retailers and brands need to focus on establishing consumer trust in data sharing and emphasise the significance of personalised experiences to drive success in the industry.
Moving from omnichannel to commerce to unified commerce
Unified commerce prioritises building unified retail experiences to meet heightened customer expectations. The evolution from omnichannel to unified commerce aligns the retailer’s strategy with customer shopping
habits, ensuring a seamless journey with real- time information across channels.
By placing the customer experience first, retailers cater to modern shoppers’ preferences and needs.
Sara Sjoberg, Head Of Marketing and Digital Sales at H&M Europe, showcased the success of the H&M app in achieving unified commerce. The app’s top-tier loyalty programmes reflected H&M’s understanding that customers browsed in-store with their smartphones in hand. Leveraging customer data insights, H&M transformed shoppers into omnishoppers, providing convenience and personalisation and convenience was highlighted as a key factor, with customers valuing simplicity in their shopping journeys.
Panel: Building Unified retail experiences (Retailers: John Lewis, H&M, Seraphine)
Social commerce and the enhancement of in- store experiences took centre stage at the event. Retailers directed their efforts towards enhancing online shopper engagement by leveraging the power of social media, video, the metaverse, and generative AI. Brands effectively utilised various strategies, highlighting the significant investments to integrate social media and eCommerce, to drive success. Live streaming emerged as a particularly valuable tool for engaging customers. Simultaneously, retailers focused on improving in-store experiences through the introduction of innovativeformats, services,andentertainment offerings.
• Brands should focus on a customer-centric approach by prioritising the customer experience and adapting strategies to meet heightened expectations.
• Effective integration of social media and eCommerce enables brands to engage customers where they shop.
• To enhance experiences, brands should drive innovation in both in-store and online experiences through data-driven insights and a test and learn approach.
The Industry intensifies sustainability efforts despite economic challenges
There was an increasing practical view of sustainability, with notable examples including Adidas aiming for 100% recycled polyester by 2024, IKEA’s commitment to achieving climate neutrality by 2030, and H&M’s goal of using sustainably sourced cotton by 2025. These initiatives highlight the industry’s dedication to sustainability and address consumer demand for eco-friendly practices. Despite economical challenges, efforts to optimise supply chains for transparency, flexibility, resilience, and sustainability remain strong. Eliminating food waste, developing sustainable products and packaging,andreducingcarbonemissions are essential imperatives for both businesses and consumers, driving brands to authentically promote eco-conscious initiatives.
The rise of the circular economy and the secondhand market, projected to grow by 12% annually in Europe, further underline the significance of sustainable practices. Retailers are embracing buy-back programmes and upcycling initiatives to capitalise on this trend. With Gen Z being the largest generation, retailers have a valuable opportunity to capture their loyalty by aligning with their digitally- native values.
- Organisations will be prioritising sustainability and transparency efforts across their value chain to meet the growing consumer demand for eco- friendly practices.
- Embracing the circular economy and tapping into the secondhand market can offer innovative business models and contribute to sustainable practices.
- Connecting with Gen Z through authentic sustainability efforts can help drive loyalty and capture the attention of this digitally- native demographic.
Technology and AI are improving internal operations and creating new experiences
One powerful AI technology, generative AI, is at the forefront of the retail AI revolution; Generative AI, a subset of AI, empowers retailers to create fresh and original content across various mediums, such as images, text, and music. This technology enables the generation of personalised content, fine- tuned product recommendations, and innovative marketing campaigns that resonate with individual customers.
For instance, Amazon leverages Gen AI to curate personalised product recommendations based on customer purchase history and browsing patterns. AI algorithms analyse data to create tailored lists of products that align with each customer’s preferences. Similarly, Carrefour utilises generative AI to develop creative marketing campaigns, leveraging AI-generated images and videos specifically tailored to different customer segments. This approach expands their reach, drives engagement, and enhances brand interactions. Nestle’s Global Head of eCommerce, Neel Arora, employs ChatGPT, to seasonally update copy for online grocery sales.
The focus is no longer solely on driving traffic to the website but creating interactive and engaging experiences for consumers.
Jerome Dubreuil from Decathlon emphasises three key aspects of deployment of data and AI technology: “auditability, observability, and expandability”.
Decathlon’s change-enabling operating model
Ethical and responsible AI practices, including transparency and addressing consumer concerns, are crucial in building trust. The main internal concerns are often related to ethics and skepticism of AI.
AI adoption in retail is still early but already transformative. Automation, streamlined operations, personalised experiences will empower retailers to boost profitability and customer satisfaction.
- Enhanced Customer Experience: AI personalises experiences, boosting satisfaction, engagement, and brand loyalty for brands and retailers.
- Operational Efficiency: AI automates tasks, streamlines operations, and optimises supply chains, driving cost savings and improved performance.
- Data-Driven Insights: AI enables analysis of large data volumes, empowering brands and retailers to make informed decisions and enhance marketing strategies.
Data continues to be the key enabler of growth and innovation in retail
“We need to embrace trust in machines and algorithms, adopting a new role where we support the data and let it weave its narrative,” expressed Alan Boehme, Chief Technology Officer at H&M.
As retailers increasingly realise the value of data in driving omnichannel strategies and building retail media networks, they are actively investing in proprietary technology solutions, safeguarding customer data within walled gardens, and implementing standardisation in measurement and formats.
Driven by the growth of retail media in Europe, which is expected to reach nearly €25 billion by 2026, retailers are exploring new revenue streams while brand advertisers are seeking innovative ways to track customer data in response to changing third-party cookie policies. According to research conducted by Carrefour, approximately80% ofshoppersarewillingto share their data for personalized information, while20%choose todeclinedataopt-ins.
Valerie Legat, Chief Digital Factory Officer, shared omnichannel insights from Carrefour
Similarly, Auchan Retail has harnessed the power of data by establishing a technical data framework that creates a unified interface for all apps and data, enabling real-time access, scalability, and optimal performance.
Elodie Perthusiot, Chief Ecommerce Officer at Carrefour, emphasised that omnichannel customers exhibit a 20% increase in purchasing after embracing the seamless shopping experience across multiple channels. This heightened frequency generates more data, fostering a virtuous cycle of enhanced personalisation.
Brands and retailers are harnessing the power of data in various aspects of their operations. To successfully leverage data, collaboration with stakeholders and the development of appropriate talent to effectively utilise technology are crucial.
Brands recognize the significance of data- driven decision-making in making informed choices about supply chains, product assortment and marketing campaigns.
However, managing the vast volume and speed of data generation remains a persistent challenge. Prioritising data privacy, security, transparency, and regulatory compliance remains a top priority for organizations as they navigate the data landscape.
- Embracing data-driven strategies: brands must harness the power of data to inform decisions and drive effective strategies.
- Prioritising data privacy and security: brands need to safeguard customer data and comply with privacy regulations to build trust.
- Leveraging omnichannel experiences: brands should deliver seamless experiences across channels, leveraging data for personalization and enhanced customer journeys.