In the old-world corporate phase of my career, I can’t remember how many times I was told “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” Looking back, every time that bromide was uttered was exactly the time I should have replied “it ain’t broke, but if we don’t improve it now, it’ll be broke sooner or later.” Unfortunately once something breaks, it’s usually too late to fix it, as so many in retail have found out over the past few years.
The industry knows that Shoptalk is not broken. In fact, the event has reached increasingly higher levels of content quality and has introduced entirely new ways to build community each and every year since its launch in 2015. As Shoptalk now heads into its fifth year, this level of success isn’t enough for its founder Anil Aggarwal and Chief Content Officer Zia Daniell Wigder. While they’ve created a successful new model–which has become a leading institution of learning for the retail industry and the envy of all other event organizers–they are adding significantly to their model for 2020. How? They are vertically integrating their own in-house- developed original content into the onsite experience with the goal of driving even greater learning and knowledge sharing.
From the very beginning, ongoing iteration and improvement–both incremental and disruptive–has been the entrepreneurial philosophy by which Aggarwal and his team have built Shoptalk. A good example is the technology they continue to develop to power unique experiences, which I wrote about earlier this year.
Recently Wigder told me: “It’s easy to coast once you’ve figured out a formula that works, but it’s impossible to be a catalyst for change if your formula remains the same year after year.” Shoptalk clearly lives by the disruptive philosophy of “If it ain’t broke…fix it anyway” and that’s why I think of Shoptalk 2020 as Shoptalk 2.0.
So, Shoptalk, the five-year old startup is preparing for the future and investing significantly to create its own original content, which will add immersive, experiential, detailed and data-driven deep dives into the most important retail challenges and opportunities of the next decade. While this will not replace the current model, it will add new and prescient content starting with the March 2020 event, supplementing and enhancing the incredible experience that Shoptalk is already known to deliver. And as the only large retail event that’s totally independent and focused entirely on innovation, Shoptalk is the one organization in a position to deliver on this promise.
Shoptalk Original Content
To deliver Shoptalk Original Content, Shoptalk has been expanding its team and dedicating resources to identify and analyze industry data and develop strategic insights, solutions and opportunities to further help the industry drive much-needed change.
Delivered onsite by the Shoptalk team, Shoptalk’s Original Content will also be captured in a comprehensive annual report made available to attendees called The Retail Zeitgeist, which Shoptalk intends to serve as a definitive industry guide to the transformation of retail over the next decade.
Shoptalk’s track sessions that will feature Shoptalk Original Content include:
- A Visual Walkthrough of the Store of the Future
- How AI is Transforming Marketing
- Identifying and Selecting the Right Fulfillment Partners
- Strategic Partnerships, Investments and Acquisition in Retail
- Outstanding Blended Digital and Physical Retail Offerings
- State of the Consumer: Trends Reshaping Retail
- Retailer Sophistication Index
- Technology Sophistication Index
- Deep Dive Into Retail IPOs
- The Disruption of Big Retail
- The Next Decade of Retail Transformation
- Shopping Centers of the World
- Exploring the Hubs of Retail Technology Innovation: Israel, China and India
While many of the sessions will continue to use panels, presentations, talk shows or other traditional formats, Shoptalk Original Content will incorporate new formats including:
- Immersive Visual Experiences: Original Shoptalk commissioned video and animated content featuring curated tours of stores, shopping centers and retail technology deployments.
- Interactive Audience Sessions: Highly interactive sessions featuring polling, Q&A and other tools that facilitate crowdsourced audience insights, enable attendees to share their opinions and drive engagement with speakers.
- Deep Dives and Case Studies: Sessions featuring presentations developed exclusively for Shoptalk that thoroughly examine a topic, including specific brand or retailer initiatives.
- Analyst Perspectives: Original content delivered by top retail industry analysts that calls out best and worst practices and offers tactical advice to attendees.
- Industry Frameworks: Frameworks created by industry experts that help attendees analyze and act on key industry trends, technologies and other developments.
- Rapid-Fire Debates: Fast-paced sessions with up to four speakers that feature rapid responses and highlight the pros and cons of different trends and technologies.
Yes, Shoptalk is turning five years old and is delivering value at a large scale, but it still operates every day with a startup’s innovate or die mentality. I think that’s something the larger retail industry can learn from. Shoptalk earns its place as an important part of the fabric of the retail ecosystem each and every day.
Shoptalk’s approach to innovation reminds me of the Day-1 philosophy at Amazon, which is another way of saying “If it ain’t broke…fix it anyway.”