Gina Boswell, CEO, Bath & Body Works. Reimagining Retail Through the Power of Fragrance

Shoptalk 2024: A Comprehensive Look into Commerce’s Dynamic Future

Shoptalk 2024, which took place on March 17-20 in the lively city of Las Vegas, served as a significant platform, demonstrating the extensive changes happening in the retail industry. The event, located at the expansive Mandalay Bay Convention Center, attracted over 10,000 attendees worldwide. These attendees included well-established brands, up-and-coming disruptors, technology innovators, and service providers. This gathering of minds provided a comprehensive look at the future of retail, characterized by digital transformation, consumer-focused innovation, and the blending of physical and digital retail spaces. My business partner Andrés Alvarez and I were thrilled to be part of this dynamic conference, capturing the pulse of the industry’s future direct from the convention floor.

Legacy Brands and New Generations

One of the conference's highlights was the "Case Studies: Legacy Brands Winning Over New Generations" session. The session featured insights from Heidi Cooley of Crocs, Winnie Park of Forever 21, and Scott Mezvinsky of Taco Bell. Each speaker detailed their strategies for engaging with newer generations, emphasizing the critical role of social listening. Cooley noted that "9 out of 10 marketing initiatives at Crocs originate from" social listening. Park shared Forever 21's journey from bankruptcy to rejuvenation, focusing on understanding the current generation's desires and presence across multiple channels. Mezvinsky highlighted Taco Bell's collaborations with trendy brands like Cheez-It to stay relevant to Gen Z consumers, illustrating the imperative of letting "Gen Z guide us."

Macy's Transformation and the Omnichannel Imperative

Tony Spring, CEO of Macy's, Inc., delivered an engaging presentation on the transformation of customer experience in his session titled "A Bold New Chapter at Macy’s, Inc." Spring discussed the challenges posed by new competition and the need to adapt Macy's extensive physical footprint to meet modern consumer needs better. The decision to close 150 stores, representing a strategic refocus rather than a retreat, highlights the broader trend in retail towards optimizing physical spaces to align with today's shopping behaviors.

The Power of Scent and Experience in Retail

Gina Boswell, CEO of Bath & Body Works, discussed "Reimagining Retail Through the Power of Fragrance," emphasizing how sensory experiences and digital engagement work together. She explained the customer journey, from online browsing to in-store purchases, and highlighted the seamless integration of channels and the importance of enhancing the physical store experience to increase sales and customer engagement. Boswell shared, "80% of our customers start shopping and browsing on our website or app. When they come into our stores to pick up their online orders, a third of them add more items to their purchase because they are captivated by our store associates and the enticing floor sets. These channels work together, and many people use them for replenishment."

Navigating the Fragmented Media Landscape

The "Finding and Reaching Customers in a Fragmented Media Landscape" session brought together Craig Brommers from American Eagle Outfitters, Eva Press from Meta, and Kimberly Wallengren from Coach. They discussed strategies for effective marketing across diverse channels, emphasizing an omnichannel approach, authentic content creation, and understanding Gen Z's interaction with digital ads. This underscored the complexity of today's media landscape and the need for brands to adapt and innovate in their marketing efforts.

Shopify's Vision for a Unified Commerce Experience

A special session with Shopify titled "Customer-Driven Innovation: Developing Shopify's Roadmap" offered a deep dive into Shopify's forward-thinking initiatives. With a robust team of over 4,500 engineers and a $2 billion investment in R&D, Shopify is pushing the boundaries of e-commerce. The expansion of Shop Pay Commerce Components and plans to make Shop Pay available on platforms outside Shopify, including Amazon, signify a strategic move towards creating a frictionless payment experience across the web. The case of Everlane adopting Shop Pay, despite not being on the Shopify platform, showcases the industry's move towards leveraging external technological advancements for improved customer experiences.

Beyond the Sessions - Networking, Innovation, and Engagement

Shoptalk 2024 stood out for its extensive agenda covering diverse topics and for providing dynamic spaces for networking, showcasing innovation, and facilitating engaging discussions in addition to the traditional sessions. The conference's format, which included meetups, the exhibit hall, and various external events, enhanced the overall experience for attendees.

Unprecedented Networking at Meetups

Shoptalk's organized Meetups were a standout feature of the event. The initiative facilitated over 50,000 meetings across more than 1,500 tables. These 15-minute, simultaneous meetings provided a unique platform for attendees to engage in focused discussions, share insights, and explore potential collaborations. Participating in these Meetups allowed me to connect with six professionals, including brand founders, tech partners, and agency owners. This direct interaction with diverse industry players highlighted the value of face-to-face meetings in fostering meaningful professional relationships.

Exploring Innovation in the Exhibit Hall

The Exhibit Hall was a standout feature, showcasing a variety of tech and service providers such as Shopify, Klaviyo, Brex, Walmart, Attentive, and Paypal. Each booth represented innovation, offering products and services that pushed the boundaries of what's possible in retail and ecommerce. The hall was not only a place to see the latest in technology but also a space for interactive learning and discovering solutions that could propel businesses forward.

External Events: Cultivating Community

During Shoptalk, the lively atmosphere spilled over from the conference rooms to external events at the Mandalay Bay Resort and other famous locations on the Las Vegas Strip. Companies such as Shopify, Klaviyo, Octane AI, and Rebuy hosted breakfasts, lunches, dinners, and happy hours, providing opportunities for partners and attendees to network in more casual settings. A memorable moment for me was the Klaviyo Partners Happy Hour in a penthouse suite at the Mandalay Bay Hotel, where I got to meet with the Klaviyo Partners leadership team. These events created enjoyable experiences and fostered stronger connections within the ecommerce community.

Conclusion: Shoptalk's Holistic Approach to Retail Evolution

The sessions I attended at Shoptalk, alongside the Meetups, the exploration within the Exhibit Hall, and the myriad of external events, collectively provided a 360-degree view of the retail industry's future. While the discussions within the sessions were enlightening, the networking opportunities, experiencing technological innovations firsthand, and engaging with the community outside the conference agenda were equally invaluable. Shoptalk 2024 was more than a conference; it was a comprehensive platform for learning, connecting, and evolving with the retail and ecommerce ecosystem.

The experiences highlighted in this article represent a personal journey through Shoptalk, attending discussions that resonated with the core themes of retail's future as perceived through our lens at "Ecommerce con Shopify." However, it is essential to note that the conference spanned many subjects, covering the multifaceted dimensions of the retail and ecommerce ecosystem. The full agenda, accessible here, reveals the depth and breadth of topics explored, from digital transformation and customer experience strategies to sustainability in supply chains and the latest in payment technologies.

If you're interested in diving deeper into the discussions and insights from Shoptalk 2024, check out our podcast, "Ecommerce con Shopify." We're excited to announce that our next episode will feature Elias Manopla from the "Ecommerce Simplificado" podcast, recorded in the Media Lounge at Shoptalk in Las Vegas. Although the episodes are in Spanish, we warmly invite our Spanish-speaking audience to engage with the evolving narrative of retail and ecommerce.




Obeth Seguinot is the Co-Founder and Head of Client Growth & Partnerships at ED Digital, Co-host of the Ecommerce con Shopify podcast, President of the Ecommerce Association of Puerto Rico, and an ecommerce professor at Sagrado Global in Puerto Rico. He has been an entrepreneur since 2007 and has been recognized as a Shopify Expert since 2018 and a Klaviyo Master Platinum Partner. Obeth has worked with clients such as The Messi Store, Valija, and Limonada, contributing to over $20 million in sales in the United States, Latin America, Europe, and Asia. He is an influential leader in ecommerce.

For more information or collaborations, Obeth can be reached on LinkedIn.

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