By Tricia Dawal on March 29, 2024

Shoptalk 2024 highlights: In-Store, AI and Social Commerce


Every year thousands of brands, retailers, startups and reporters in the ecommerce, marketing, and innovations industries convene in Las Vegas, NV for Shoptalk to discuss the evolving retail ecosystem and innovative solutions for addressing key challenges. 

This year’s agenda focused on the importance of in-store experiences and social media in the modern customer’s omnichannel shopping journey, as well as the impact of AI in optimizing these touchpoints. Communicators should keep an eye on the following three trends to effectively guide clients through disruption and help them reach key stakeholders. 

Technology is key to optimizing in-store experiences 

Despite the increasing popularity of e-commerce, this year’s Shoptalk conference proves that brick-and-mortar stores aren’t going anywhere. Customer touchpoints across the shopping journey have proliferated, and in-store shopping remains a crucial part of the experience. In fact, eMarketer recently found that the majority (83.7%) of US retail sales take place in physical stores. Meanwhile, a GE Capital survey found that 81% of shoppers research online before buying in-store.

In response to these ongoing consumer behaviors, Shoptalk speakers highlighted retail investments aimed at supporting store associates, underscoring the crucial role they play in delivering exceptional experiences; initiatives to create cohesive experiences between in-store and online interactions; and technological improvements that make stores more engaging and efficient. 

This year, keep an eye out for continued innovation in omnichannel customer engagement with particular emphasis on the in-store shopping experience. Retailers will increasingly invest in their workforces to deliver positive experiences, enhanced by technology including AI and machine learning, creating an opportunity for communicators to tell customer-centric stories. 

AI is changing retail

AI has emerged as a pivotal tool in revolutionizing the in-store experience, offering retailers opportunities to elevate customer experiences and drive profitability through predictive software and real-time decision-making. However, AI’s impact extends beyond just the in-store experience. 

For example, it will enhance the ecommerce experience by helping consumers easily find information about products with chatbots. Marketers will also benefit from the technology with new capabilities for creative asset creation and campaign management. 

Importantly, these benefits will not be achieved without some challenges, such as intellectual property and privacy concerns. Sessions at the conference offered tactical frameworks for adopting AI, navigating risks, and maximizing its potential. Communicators should keep these concerns in mind when crafting AI narratives to avoid stoking concerns with customers and criticism from other stakeholders. 

Social commerce is a boon for brand building 

Increased social media usage in recent years has driven a parallel rise in social commerce with brands vying for a small slice of consumer attention. eMarketer recently found that US adults are expected to spend 18% of their digital media time on social platforms like Instagram and TikTok this year. Of those surveyed, 28% planned to use Instagram and 22% planned to use TikTok to make purchases. 

This year's Shoptalk sessions and announcements underscored the growing importance of these practices in shaping retail strategies. For example, discussed how it is using TikTok to personalize its shopping experience and reduce customer acquisition costs. TikTok also introduced new ad products enabling direct advertising within TikTok Shop, enhancing sales and Return on Advertising Spend (ROAS).

As consumer behavior and shopping preferences continue to evolve, keep an eye out for retailers diversifying ways to shop with social platform partnerships. In an era dominated by e-commerce, communicators should leverage retailers’ in-store, AI and social commerce innovations to craft narratives that position clients as customer-centric and innovative.

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Published by Tricia Dawal March 29, 2024