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Raj Nijjer
VP Marketing @ Yotpo
March 19th, 2019

Reflecting on Shoptalk: The Key Trends in Direct-to-Consumer Commerce

Our observations and insights from the biggest retail event of the year.

Table Of Contents

Earlier this month, the brains behind today’s hottest brands converged in Las Vegas to create a dialogue around the future of commerce.

A singular theme emerged as the key to success in 2019: making your brand a true destination for shoppers.

Whether you’re focusing on your online community or brainstorming ways to move into brick and mortar, building those experiences with a customer-first mindset is the only way to stand out in a crowded market.

This article will round up the best advice and observations from the world’s top brands on how to authentically connect with your customer at each touchpoint.

Omnichannel: Meeting customers where they are

While headlines mourn the death of the mall, major retailers at Shoptalk shared that it’s not about shutting down brick and mortar, but about weaving physical retail into your omnichannel strategy. Macy’s shared that when they close down a store, online sales in the region decline, painting a complex picture of a new customer journey that involves multiple touchpoints.

Physical retail is just one part of an omnichannel effort to offer value to customers wherever they’re willing to shop, whether it’s at a store down the block or from their smartphone screens. Gap CEO Art Peck backed up this view. He stated that while Gap is closing hundreds of stores over next two years, the locations that they are opening have been chosen to “fit into customers’ lives” (think grocery store plazas, rather than mega-malls).

It’s not just where your stores are that impacts how customers perceive their value. Today’s stores need to adjust to new ways of shopping. For example, Macy’s is planning to use fragrance finders in their beauty departments so that shoppers can select perfumes by scent, as they do online, rather than by brand.

Being open-minded about blending the old and the new based on customer needs will be the key to innovating a satisfying omnichannel experience. Leading D2C brands like Glossier and Casper figured this out from the get-go, but big box retailers are just starting to catch on.

Content as an opportunity to build loyalty

We’ve all heard that content is king, but it’s implications go way beyond initial sales. Michael Dubin, CEO of Dollar Shave Club, spoke about the brand’s magazine MEL, which is completely stand-alone. His argument was that this type of non-shoppable content creates long-term affinity and loyalty by engaging readers and educating them around self-care.

This strategy has been gaining popularity with publications like Away Travel’s magazine “Here” and Quip’s dental hygiene tips.

Content is another way to enter into a conversation with your customers around topics that they care about and to offer value beyond purchase.

Lingerie brand Lively — which hosts events about everything from succulents to art, based on its brand ambassadors’ interests — put it very well. Founder Michelle Cordeiro Grant said:

As a brand we have a responsibility to understand our community and give them something more than just product and transactions.”

For brands seeking to build more authentic connections and to scale content production with limited resources, using customer content is another way to engage and offer value to your community.

A new take on AI

Full disclosure: This one features our very own CEO & Co-founder Tomer Tagrin. As AI continues to be a popular buzzword, he gave us a rare glimpse into the human side of artificial intelligence.

In his talk, Tomer shared that brands can use AI to build personal, human relationships with customers by:

Memorable quotes from Shoptalk 2019

  • Ahold Delhaize CEO Frans Muller on the so-called death of retail: “No, there is no retail apocalypse, but yes there challenges. We have to understand our customers and redefine retail for the future.”
  • GREATS CEO Ryan Babenzien on the need to be omnichannel: “Modern brands today are digitally native—meaning they’re mostly digital but they have a footprint in both retail and maybe even in some wholesale.”
  • Macy’s Chief Digital Officer Jill Ramsey on adjusting to a digital-first mindset: “This smartphone is our front window now. Our app customer is our most loyal customer.”
  • Guido Campello, CEO and creative director at Cosabella, on legacy brands improving customer relationships: “Seeing your brand in multiple sites, and being able to give the customer a very personalized interaction, especially when it’s a familial brand like Cosabella—you need to be able to do that kind of shift.”

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