The past year has seen upheaval across the entire U.S. retail sector, with retailers being taken to task for everything from excess store square footage to failing to understand and adapt to shifting consumer behavior. Today’s retail shakeout, however, has given rise to a growing interest in new trends, technologies and alternative approaches to retail that provide more engaging experiences and more streamlined, efficient operations.
Far from being concentrated in a single market, retail innovation is happening globally, with ecommerce and retail innovation hubs existing in cities ranging from London to Berlin, Tel Aviv to Shanghai and São Paulo to Sydney. At Shoptalk, we’re thrilled to be welcoming a global set of speakers to both our Shoptalk Europe event in October as well as our global event in Las Vegas in March 2018.
Below are a few areas of retail being disrupted in seven different countries and regions beyond the US – and some of the companies on the Shoptalk agenda representing the trends.
- The UK: Global leader in key categories including digital grocery and luxury online fashion. For years, UK-based retailers trounced their US counterparts in terms of the sophistication of their omnichannel offerings, and today large grocery retailers in the UK remain at the forefront of digital innovation. From Ocado’s warehousing and logistics innovation to Waitrose’s locker-based click-and-collect options, grocery retailers in the UK have set a high bar. At Tesco, one of the 10 largest retailers in the world, the company has embraced a long list of technologies, from RFID and connected device initiatives to mobile payments—at Shoptalk Europe, we’ll hear from the Managing Director of Online at Tesco who will talk about the company’s digital offerings and the overall customer experience at Tesco. On the other end of the category spectrum, the UK has been a locus of luxury ecommerce innovation with several sites offering cutting-edge multibrand offerings that are setting the global standard in this space. Shoptalk Europe will feature the CEOs of Lyst and MatchesFashion.com as well as the Chief Strategy Officer of Farfetch, just a few of the London-based companies leading in this space.
- France: Pioneer in pickup and delivery. France has long been an innovator when it comes to fulfillment options. France’s Chronodrive, now over 12 years old, enables shoppers to drive through and have their goods loaded into the trunks of their cars — the concept has expanded significantly throughout the country. Other fulfillment options have included Monoprix’s “Livraison à domicile +,” a service rolled out over 10 years ago that enables shoppers to leave their carts with a cashier and have the groceries delivered to their home. The service gained international attention last summer when the company created a video parody this year countering other tech-enabled grocery checkout options. At Shoptalk, we’ll be diving into the topic of innovative delivery and pickup options and featuring French companies in the logistics space, including the CEO of Stuart (acquired earlier this year by Geopost), a same-day delivery platform.
- Germany: Hub of disruptive D2C ecommerce startups. Over the past few years, Germany has seen the rise of a wide range of direct-to-consumer ecommerce startups. At Shoptalk Europe, we’ll hear from market leaders with offerings across Europe like the CEO of HelloFresh and the Head of Engineering and the Head of Innovation and Partnerships at Zalando. Beyond these ecommerce giants, a large number of startups have raised significant funding to create new business models that are disrupting different categories. At Shoptalk Europe, we’ll have a number that have raised over $20 million including the CEOs of OUTFITTERY (men’s apparel), Lesara (apparel), Lesara (apparel), windeln.de (baby products), JUNIQE (art, posters and prints), Mister Spex and Brillen (eyeglasses) and Home24 (furniture).
- The Nordic Countries: Home to exceptional retail store design. Scandinavian design is renowned the world over, and retail design is no exception. Giants like Sweden’s IKEA and H&M often make headlines for their cutting-edge store and product design – at Shoptalk Europe we’ll highlight the CEO of IKEA Switzerland and Sustainability and HR leaders at H&M. Smaller players, too, are rolling out beautiful retail experiences. Denmark’s Normann flagship store, Sweden’s Malmö Saluhall and Finland’s Kotka Old Port are just a few examples of innovative retail design pioneered in the region. Additionally, Iceland’s Hagkaup has won awards for its design–the Managing Director of Hagkaup will be addressing the audience at Shoptalk Europe.
- Israel: Emerging leader in areas ranging from AI-based solutions to fashion tech. Israel’s startup ecosystem is familiar to many for innovation in areas such as adtech, fintech and cybersecurity, but today almost 350 ecommerce startups are estimated to exist in the country, putting it on the map as a growing hub for the retail and ecommerce industries. These startups are tackling everything from AI-based search, personalization and analytics to warehouse robotics, IoT, AR/VR and a variety of new technologies targeted at the fashion industry. Our events will feature the CEOs of Yotpo, Twiggle, Syte.ai, kwik, Pixoneye, feelter, WiseShelf and Oriient, just a few of the innovative startups in Israel that have recently raised funding to commercialize new commerce technologies. Additionally, we’ll hear from leaders at companies that operate R&D facilities in Israel such as the Co-Founder of Houzz who will be interviewed by Alfred Lin, Partner at Sequoia Capital and a key Houzz investor.
- China: Powerhouse in logistics innovation. China’s ecommerce innovation has become legendary, with sites like Alibaba’s Taobao and Tmall generating hundreds of billions of dollars of revenue every year and others like Tencent’s WeChat leading when it comes to commerce within messaging apps. In the logistics space, too, China is in a league of its own. Shoptalk Europe will feature Alibaba’s GM for Europe who will discuss some of the exciting ecommerce innovations in China and the company’s growing focus on shopping centers. We’ll also hear from the Head of JDX Silicon Valley Research Center at JD.com, an ecommerce player with $100 billion in GMV and numerous cutting-edge logistics initiatives, from widespread drone deliveries to warehouses that operate without workers. We’ll also hear from Hans Tung, Managing Partner at VC firm GGV who will provide an overview of the company’s investments in China including newly launched initiatives like Bingobox which offers an entirely human-free version of Amazon Go.
- Latin America: Growing center of retail tech innovation. While markets like Brazil are receiving attention for fintech innovation, retail tech innovation in Latin America is also growing. Newer players of all sizes are gaining international attention, with commerce tech companies generating interest from investors inside and outside the region. At Shoptalk this past spring, we heard from the Co-Founder of Inspectorio, a retail supply chain startup that recently received funding from Target and at Shoptalk Europe, we’ll hear from the Founder and Co-CEO of VTEX, a commerce platform supporting a large number of global brands. Other startups are selling to larger regional players: ecommerce titan MercadoLibre, for example, has made numerous acquisitions of local commerce tech companies in areas ranging from freight management to mobile application development. We’ll hear from the SVP and Head of Marketplaces at MercadoLibre at Shoptalk 2018.
The list of global innovators is extensive, with other countries like Japan and India also pioneering groundbreaking new retail and ecommerce technologies and regions like Central and Eastern Europe and the Middle East hosting a growing number of exciting startups.
Today the retail and ecommerce dialogue must be global — without an international context, retail leaders will miss out on some of the most exciting developments in the industry.