In just a few weeks, the hot sun shining over Las Vegas will beam down upon the pale and smiling faces of an encroaching army of office-dwelling ecommerce merchants. These troglodytes will have journeyed from afar to an arid and sin-filled wasteland for one reason: Shoptalk. Among them, will be me.
It’s currently snowing leaf-sized snowflakes outside my window in Boulder, which means I can’t wait to hop on a plane headed south. While I would love to keep traveling another 1000 miles to Cabo, I’ll be stopping in the desert to witness the army amass at the Aria hotel. I’m not bitter though. I’ll go to a lot of conferences this year, but Shoptalk offers something special.
Commerce Solutions for Ecommerce Professionals
In addition to being one of the first, large networking events for online merchants this year, it’s also the only ecommerce event I’ll attend that isn’t platform-focused. As the head of marketing at an ecommerce agency that specializes in building on Magento and Salesforce Commerce Cloud, I spend a lot of time talking about all the problems that can be solved by migrating to a platform. While it’s true that those platforms provide a ridiculous amount of features and functionality, they are not a panacea to every anxiety that an online merchant faces.
Afterall, there is much more to running an online business than online initiatives. Shoptalk is a commerce event for ecommerce professionals. You can steal that line, by the way. There are a few tracks and sessions that caught my eye this year, because they really exemplify that idea:
The Future of the Shopping Center
Mike Blandina | EVP of Product & Engineering, CTO, Westfield Retail Solutions
The shopping mall. You know, the enemy. Or is it? No seriously, I don’t know. Luckily, this session might provide a clue. A few leading shopping center developers will discuss why and how shopping at the mall will look different in the future. Pretty important given that store formats in shopping centers have been shifting dramatically.
Emerging Technologies Transforming Retail and Ecommerce
Kyle Nel | Executive Director, Lowe’s Innovation Labs, Lowe’s Companies
Baris Cetinok | Senior Director of Product Marketing & Management for Apple Pay & iCloud, Apple
This one’s a twopher. First, the head of Lowe’s innovation lab presents how next-gen tech such as augmented and virtual reality, robotics and 3D printing are being tested and deployed in stores. MIND-BLOWN. Then, cue Apple to discuss the next generation of seamless and secure payment and checkout experiences, both online and off. DOUBLE MIND BLOWN.
Building Loyal Communities
Rainer Castillo | Co-Founder, Chubbies
Dana Klein | VP, eCommerce Reebok North America, Adidas Group
Davis Smith | Founder & CEO, Cotopaxi
Shar VanBoskirk | VP, Principal Analyst, Forrester (Moderator)
Three brands discuss their loyalty marketing success with Shar VanBoskirk (say it out loud, it’s fun). They show you how to do the three step: (1) identify shared values (2) relentlessly pursue community as a core business strategy and (3) foster exclusivity among members and rewarding engagement in novel ways. I’m staying tuned for the “novel ways.”
There are a ton that I’ve not mentioned here, but you can look at the shoptalk agenda for more. FYI, I take copious notes at these things, and plan on publishing a recap to our blog at the end of everyday, so check back during the show. With luck, I’ll be able to cover about five sessions a day. We’ll be on mountain time, so expect the articles to come out around 7-8PM EST. Or just hop on Twitter and follow me.
See the Forest and the Trees
Shoptalk has an awesome speaker list. It’s a great blend of nitty-gritty, practical sessions and future-focused, big-picture strategy. On one hand, you’ll hear from our client, Uri Minkoff from Rebecca Minkoff, the largest global fashion label that’s led by a female millennial designer. He’ll be there to inspire you with the latest emerging technology. Think RFID chips in bags, smart fitting room mirrors, etc. (leave it to fashion experts to stay on top of the latest trends). On the other, an entire track on Monday and Tuesday is devoted to demos and announcements of new technology. Every ten minutes they rotate in and out, so if a technology isn’t for you, it’s over before you know it. Talk about an efficient way to learn about new tech.
The Tech Tours
If concise presentations sound appealing to you, you should consider signing up for a tech tour. On each tour, a guide takes you and a group of merchants (the tours are exclusive to retailers and brands) around the exhibit hall for a series of three-minute presentations and a two-minute Q+A with different agencies and technology companies. If you get shy in the exhibit hall, it’s a secure way to make the rounds. It’s also a great chance to mingle with other like-minded retailers.
Plus, if you sign up for the mobile tech tour, they’ll take you by the famed Blue Acorn exhibit. It should be fun to watch our CEO try to condense his thoughts on mobile to three minutes. When he heard he had three minutes, it was like watching Peter Jackson learning that The Hobbit needs to be edited into a 23-minute episode. Fun times.
Need a friend?
Networking is tough. If you see me in a session, feel free to say hello and introduce yourself. Or, if you see me or a Blue Acorn team member in the evenings, don’t hesitate to join us. Outside of that, you can catch me or one of my more knowledgeable peers at booth 1413. I’ll see you there.