Notes from #ShopTalk18

In Blog, IM Voices by Dev Ganesan

First, congrats to Anil Aggarwal for organizing a great conference in ShopTalk18. I have attended many such events over the years, and this ranks at the top for content, relevancy and networking. Speakers discussed the rapid evolution of how consumers discover, shop, and buy—from new technologies and business models to the latest trends in consumer behaviors, preferences, and expectations. There was a particularly resonant idea in “Discovery Zones” in for grocery, artificial intelligence, emerging technology and the “store of the future.”

Today, only 2-3% of grocery business is conducted online; it’s the last major arena to be disrupted via digital commerce. By some estimates, online grocery could grow to $100 billion dollars/year in the U.S. alone by 2022. With others from the ItemMaster team, I spent two days in the GroceryTalk Zone, soaking in the conversations, and I came away with several industry-impacting insights:

1. Omnichannel experience is normal: a seamless online and instore experience is now the expectation.

2. Gartner predicts that in the next two years, 75 percent of homes will use smart speakers for shopping – voice assistants are just starting to emerge and will become a major force to reckon with.

3. Increased transparency is crucial: shoppers want to know everything, and they expect access to any/all Item Information.

4. Gen X expects companies to be socially responsible. Their buying power is growing so you better address their concerns.

5. Private label brands are revolutionizing how retailers go to market in stores and online.

6. 35% of Amazon’s revenue comes from product recommendations.

7. Since search is the first step in the path to purchase, Google is now a major driver of traffic to retail sites. 81% of people ages 18–34 rely on Google search in their decision making.

8. Google “Shopping Actions” launched for retailers, making it easier for searchers to buy rather than being directed to Amazon.

9. Never underestimate the impact of personalized customer service.

10.The consumer experience and journey is more important than the consumer’s discovery.

All of these trends augur well for tech vendors like ItemMaster as we help our partners navigate the ongoing digital grocery transformation. Our partners are consumed by how shoppers are thinking about, talking about, and buying their food. Today, product content must meet the shopper at every point in their journey. Rich and enhanced product attributes are mission-critical to a personalized and – ultimately – more impactful consumer experience. Data, content, and detailed product attributes will change the way the industry meets the consumer and will allow retailers to offer the solutions shoppers are unwittingly demanding.

Personally, one of this year’s stand-out-moments was listening to Narayan Iyengar (SVP of Digital and eCommerce at Albertsons). When asked why he left his successful (and very stable) role at Disney to work in the grocery business, he said, “Are you kidding? This is where the action is!” Narayan is right: the retail industry is impacting the lives of millions every day! Our mission at ItemMaster is to be at the very center of the action and innovation that steers the industry in its journey towards a new digital age.