WOW. If you made it to Las Vegas for ShopTalk 2022 (March 27-30) you know what I’m talking about. W-O-W was the word of the show. For many folks it was their first trade show since the Pandemic began and for most exhibitors it was the first time they could break open their marketing budgets and showcase new booths and displays that they could leverage for the rest of this rebound in live events. Estimates were that over 10,000 attended the show at Mandalay Bay and as a witness to it all I would say that is a low estimate – especially when you consider that Shoptalk is the kind of show where each day is packed with tremendous value so people probably hit one or two days and still got a lot out of it.
Here are some of our major takeaways and observations from 3 days at Shoptalk 2022 in Vegas:
1. It Was Massive
Mandalay Bay hosted a huge event and after promoting it as “Retail’s post pandemic coming out party”, it certainly delivered. They were geared up for many thousands, and many thousands showed. It was slightly weird but also rejuvenating to be walking around without masks in large crowds but it was also the first for many where networking, socializing, and partying without masks was commonplace.
The agenda was obviously very retail focused and vendor partners attended in droves hoping to strike up conversations with would-be customers and clients. Like many recent shows it seems the vendor partner numbers far outweighed the retailers and e-commerce merchants but there were indeed large teams in attendance from retailers like Walgreens, CVS, Target, and Walmart and plenty of mid-market and startup retailers too.
I didn’t run across many pure play e-commerce businesses, which is not surprising because this show is not geared for them – it’s really geared for serious startup retail or enterprise retail pursuits. The exhibit hall was equally huge, with booths for the giant vendors and smaller sponsors as well with plenty of meeting and networking space.
The supporting app provided by Hyve boasted 160 categories of vendors in attendance or sponsoring. The headline social event was a white out beach party with a Flo Rida concert – attendance was maxed out and the party went late.
2. The E-Commerce Shadow on Retail
Despite this being a show with sessions geared for retailers, the shadow of e-commerce was everywhere; pure play e-commerce merchants would no doubt get a lot out of this show just perusing the options available in the exhibit hall.
- Innovative Growth Opportunities,
- Global Shopping Experiences,
- Developing Tomorrow’s Leaders, and
- Startup Pitch
Within each track, a number of the presentations and sessions would have benefits e-commerce pure plays.
Themes for the sessions focused on:
- Data and personalization,
- Globalization amid a turbulent global economy,
- How to best acquire, leverage and manage AI to improve customer experiences,
- Omnichannel management frameworks,
- Finding talent, and a ton more.
Sub-themes and topics more in line with e-commerce interests included sessions on:
- Re-focusing on first party data,
- Visual Search,
- Breakthrough techniques in Social Commerce and SMS (highlighted as the most highly-productive communication channel in e-commerce).
All of the major e-commerce platforms were represented at the conference and a number of them threw some (awesome!) parties and events around some of Vegas’ higher end bars and pubs which was a ton of fun.
4. Giants Positioned for E-Commerce Growth
In the Exhibit Hall, we saw e-commerce themes everywhere. Adobe and Big Commerce had fantastic booths with tons of demos. Booth temptations from snack bars and coffee machines were found around every corner.
- Shipt, the Target-owned last mile deliverer of groceries and home essentials – trotted out a giant shopping-cart-themed booth with tons of giveaways – a real attention-grabber.
- Pitney Bowes, now expanding its positioning to be a major player in e-commerce logistics has developed data products to analyze and improve all aspects of logistics and fulfillment – not a surprise given how long Pitney Bowes has been been helping USPS improve its services; its access to the USPS data farm is unprecedented so it’s logical that they will be leveraging that data and a number of its facilities (and USPS facilities) to help large US companies improve e-commerce.
- Shipping giant Maersk is leveraging its data and massive infrastructure to move into e-commerce logistics as well. Given its incredible network of suppliers, vendors, and facilities worldwide in support of its shipping operations its not a surprise that its moving in this direction
4. Networking Opportunities
There were tons of great networking breaks and great food, coffee, and snacks for those who paid the steep $3,850 badge fee. Hyve set up a massive farm of meeting areas anticipating paid meeting matches which a number of vendors said provided fruitful sets of introductions and leads – a nice option – speed dating for vendor – client relationships.
There was no shortage of great parties to attend, and this visitor to Shoptalk left town with a pile of new contacts and a lot of great experiences from a range of events – well worth the price of admission!
The Bottom Line
Shop Talk was massive, fun, and fruitful and a great way to get out and meet up with the retail and e-commerce world again!