Insights from Shoptalk Day 1: Why Enabling the Fleet Matters

March 28, 2022

Ten thousand people convened in Las Vegas yesterday afternoon for Shoptalk. For many, this was the first event they traveled to in two years and it represented more than just an industry trade show. Rather, it was a return to normalcy. Show organizers even promoted the event as ‘Retail’s Big Reunion.’

Surprisingly, it wasn’t uncomfortable being in close proximity to so many maskless people. What wasn’t surprising, however, were the topics that bubbled to the top during most of day one’s sessions. They included Web 3.0 or the metaverse, diversity and inclusion, the omni experience coming out of Covid-19, and transformation.

Here are our top 4 takeaways:

Brands must be intentional about hiring women in order to fix ‘the broken rung’ problem.

Sharonda Weatherspoon, SVP of Retail Stores & Co-Chair for Diversity & Inclusion, Ralph Lauren spoke about her company’s approach to hiring and retaining the best female talent. In addition to going after the best talent in the industry, Ralph Lauren is intentional about their culture and benefits, including flexibility, ensuring that they solve challenges for women in the workplace. To ensure parity, Sharonda says, “When you have a position, be intentional about filling it with a woman.”

Lesson: Culture for retail brands needs to include all employees, not just HQ, and be built with thought and purpose. Everyone across the organization needs to be aligned and understand what the brand stands for.

Transformation literally takes a village

Tracey Brown, President of Retail Products & Chief Customer Officer, Walgreens spoke about the company’s ongoing transformation coming out of the pandemic. She said, “Covid showed that we need to change now. We need fresh thinking and new ideas. And, we need them now.” But transformation can happen in a vacuum, especially for a community brand, like Walgreens. Rather, it takes a village coming together and aligning their goals and purpose to effect change for healthcare and wellbeing for all.

Lesson: For transformation to happen, the stores, where people experience the brand, need to be enabled and on board. With 80% of Americans within 5 miles of a Walgreens, creating a great store experience is critical to ensuring consistency. Otherwise, the experience is disjointed. 

Stores exist because the model works

During one of the busiest sessions of the day, The Investor Perspective on Retail’s Biggest Growth Opportunities, Sara Araghi, Partner, Franklin Templeton, shared her thoughts on retail stores, saying, “There is a place for stores and it’s an important last-mile solution… It’s the model every brand should look at.” She referenced Zipline customers, Warby Parker and Allbirds, saying that stores were in their plans for a long time, even though they got their start online only. 

Lesson: While it’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of digital innovation, stores are the most predictable source of revenue for brands and will forever have a strong place in the hearts and minds of customers.

Good ideas come from everywhere in a company

In the general session late in the day, Sam’s Club CEO Kath McLay spoke about the brand’s 27% growth over the past two years. She talked about some of the latest innovations, including 

scan and ship, which allows customers to scan items in the store and have them shipped directly to their homes. She mentioned that this is a great example of meeting customers where they are, and the result of an ‘innovation jam’ that the company held to find great ideas from across the company.

Lesson: All retail brands need to have feedback loops to capture ideas from the field. Since store teams are closest to customers, they know what’s working and what’s not working and are the best source of customer information. Don’t leave them out of the process.

Are you at Shoptalk? Come see us at booth #4100! You’re welcome to sit back, relax, and grab some swag! See how Zipline can retool your retail 🤝

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