Last week, Shoptalk 2019 wrapped up in Las Vegas, where over 8,000 attendees from around the world met to discuss the ongoing future of retail and e-commerce.

With 5 tracks, more than 350 speakers and hundreds of showcasing startups, there were many topics that were discussed at the event.

While still recovering from serious jet leg (it’s a long flight to Vegas coming from Israel…) I give you my 6 takeaways from ShopTalk 2019:

1. A Q&A With Erik Nordstrom 

Nordstrom, one of the largest traditional players, opened Retail’s biggest show by revealing how it’s planning to take on 2019.

While the remarks around the session declared it “scripted” and “vague”, this is still considered one of the highlights in my opinion, being Erik’s first public session as a Co-CEO.

He referred to the passing of his brother, Blake, and the event’s significance for Nordstrom’s leadership: “he was my big brother, and he’s always been an inspiration. Blake personified our company’s values. He can live on, and his legacy is apparent in the company’s values.” Erik also stated that the company’s “stores are long-term investments. There are swings in the external environment that we can’t control”, recognizing the company must become quicker in adapting to changing consumer behaviors.

Image source: Forbes

2. Deep Dive into Israeli Retail Tech

Israeli technology has made a good reputation for itself, but something in ShopTalk 2019 felt extra special.

With more than 40 Israeli startups and tech companies that participated in the event, you could really feel the major impact of the disruptive solutions coming out of Israel on the global retail industry.

One of the personal highlights for me, without a doubt, was the release of a first of its kind report that we have worked on at Re:Tech along with Viola Ventures.

The report, which was launched at the Israeli tech Pavilion, provides a deep dive into the Israeli retail tech ecosystem, and it comes at a time when the retail industry worldwide is going through a massive transformation.

Israel currently has 500+ active startups that are specializing in retail tech, and in recent years, multinationals such as Nike, Alibaba and Walmart have shown a growing interest in solutions coming from Israel. This is also demonstrated by a growing number of M&As with a total of 7 deals in 2018.

More than anything, the report reflects the growing role of Israeli startups in the transforming retail tech space.

Want to learn more? Click here to download the full report. 

3. Getting everyone on board

Another interesting session that took place on Sunday dealt with “The Digital Transformation of Traditional Retailers and Brands”. It included speakers such as Suzanne Hader, Chief Marketing Officer at John Hardy; Albertsons Cos. SVP of Digital and E-commerce Narayan Iyengar, and Hershey Co. Chief Digital Commerce Officer Doug Straton.

The session dove into the different components of digital transformation initiatives, featuring retailers that tackled challenges in the way. A note that truly resonated with me was Iyengar’s comment on the importance of getting everyone in the company involved- which it’s not always easy.

At the end of the day, a healthy transformation requires good communication – something retailers must not forget.

4. Macy’s is moving to where the customer is

The legacy brand didn’t have an easy time this year. Even though Macy’s keynote didn’t cover all of the company’s pain points I thought it would, it provided a glimpse into the company’s efforts of combining the offline with the online via its mobile app.

Jill Ramsey, chief digital officer at Macy’s, shared how the company is reviving its customer experience. Ramsey explained that two-thirds of traffic and half of Macy’s online sales came from mobile, making their app customer their “most loyal customer.”

I found out Macy’s is working on a few new features for its app: a better mobile wallet that connects to buy-online-pickup-in-store (BOPIS); a tool to connect customers to in-store stylists; a platform that will let costumers know about events taking place at their local store; and a product locator function.

5. Israeli startups leading the way

In one of the most captivating talks at the event, Lihi Pinto Fryman, Co-Founder & Chief Marketing Officer at Syte, announced the launch of the world’s largest Visual AI ecosystem.

Syte, an Israeli startup that has been providing retailers with visual AI technology for a while now, offers unique features such as visual search, automated textual tags and product recommendations. At ShopTalk, the company announced the powering Visual Search for Samsung’s Bixby Vision on 42 million mobile devices. And there’s more to look forward to: according to Fryman, other mobile manufacturers, apps and marketplaces will be joining very soon.

Another great talk by an Israeli thought-leader was given by Michael Gabay, Co-Founder and CEO of Trigo Vision at a session dedicated to in-store automation.

The Israel-based artificial intelligence startup, that recently inked a deal with the country’s largest supermarket chain Shupersal, has raised $7 million in funding to remove the checkout process entirely.

In a panel featuring thought leadership from executives at four cutting-edge technology companies whose solutions are automating the store experience,  Gabay discussed how rapid improvements in video image recognition and AI can help retailers provide more convenient checkout experiences for shoppers.

It was exciting to see two top-notch Israeli startups leading the way for the retail industry, in two of the most booming fields at the moment.

6. Lowe’s: behind the scenes 

Marvin Ellison isn’t new to leading a major company. As the former CEO at J.C. Penney as well as other leadership positions at Home Depot, Ellison has extensive experience in the home improvement industry. However, I was particularly curious to hear about his latest experience, this time as the President & CEO of Lowe’s.

While Lowe’s generates approximately $4 billion in e-Commerce revenue, 70% of those transactions are picked up in store. In his talk, Ellison shared how the company’s culture plays a major part in enabling associates to drive this success through multiple channels. According to Ellison, “It’s about creating an emotional connection between the bigger organization and the working individuals that are front-line leaders of the company”.

In what could also serve as an inspiration to other retailers, Ellison stressed how important it is for him to take the pulse of his company on a regular basis. For example – one of his first acts as CEO was to give out his personal email to employees and answers their questions personally.

Final thoughts

ShopTalk was a truly remarkable event, filled with interviews, presentations, and fascinating talks, covering serious amounts of knowledge. After so many fantastic sessions and innovative startups, I am leaving ShopTalk with many thoughts and excitement for the year to come.

Now we just have to wait and see how things unfold.


Featured imae source: Forebs

Yael Kochman

Yael is a Partner & CEO at Re:Tech, a one-stop shop for retailers looking to discover and implement next-gen tech solutions. Re:Tech works with clients such as ASOS, eBay and Farfetch to introduce and lead open innovation programs, aiming to create results that affect the bottom line.