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Mar 26, 2024 | 4 minute read

What Did Leading Commerce Minds Have to Say at Shoptalk 2024?

written by Seamus Roddy

It’s up for debate whether you really can find the American Dream in Las Vegas, but every year, at Shoptalk, you’re certain to hear about the technologies, trends, and business models reshaping retail.

We spent the week on the show floor, in sessions, meeting customers, and talking to retailers, vendors, and colleagues across the industry. What did the sharpest minds in commerce share this year? Here’s what stuck out to us.

The Big Retailer: “You Aren’t Working in a Vacuum”

Lisa Roath, EVP and Chief Marketing Officer at Target Corporation, gave the first stand out insight of the show, when she reminded merchandisers, marketers, and other eCommerce pros that no brand will find success by working in a vacuum.

For too long, operating in a vacuum was the way of the commerce world. Different business functions would, over the course of months or years, complete their responsibilities for a new commerce initiative or program. Then, one day, after spending millions of dollars and tens of thousands of work hours, commerce innovation would go live.

The problem? In addition to the huge investment, the so-called innovation that goes live in a vacuum-style approach is what was considered innovative months or years before – not necessarily what’s innovative now. And all that time and money hangs over everybody’s head when innovative experiences finally go in front of customers, as everybody wonders… is this what our customers actually want?

Lisa says that Target has adopted the opposite approach, instead opting to pursue iterative improvements, see what works, and collaborate horizontally – across departments – to respond to demonstrated customer desires fast.

The Strategic Partner: “Experimentation in One Market Begets Experimentation in Other Markets”

Vikalp Tandon, Global Commerce Lead at our partner, Accenture, directs strategic partnerships with leading online retailers. His observation about where commerce is today and where it’s heading in the future? Experimentation in specific markets and business lines is what unlocks broader commerce success.

Once, Vikalp says, producing a digital commerce solution looked like a car assembly line: scores of workers labored over time to add different touches to a single, mass-produced vehicle that a customer could happily drive off the lot.

Now, it’s up to brands to consistently test drive vehicles that they are building in real time. The car eventually becomes faster and smoother and more fuel efficient – but only after being taken out on real roads to see what works and what doesn’t.

New markets and business lines are a good place to experiment because they offer a real but limited testing ground. If a new initiative or tech component or merchandising strategy works in a new market, great – it can be expanded more broadly. When something doesn’t work? That’s okay, too – you’ve crossed an idea off the list without disrupting your entire commerce solution.

The Chief Digital Officer: “Building stuff is fun. Solving customer problems is better.”

As Levi Strauss & Co.’s Chief Digital Officer, Jason Gowans oversees engineering, data, and digital product management. He reminds his team often that it’s fun to build stuff, but even better to solve real customer problems.

In the context of a modern commerce solution, Jason says that solving customer problems means choosing components that fit around a customer’s buying journey. That means strong site search and product management and payment processing that isn’t necessarily built in-house.

To Jason, an emphasis on solving real customer problems also means that expansion and improvement of an existing solution doesn’t have to mean a total overhaul. Changes happen gradually, over time, as composable architecture means swapping in one component for another without disruption.

The Commerce Solution: “You Never Have to Replatform Again”

What did we tell the brands we met with at Shoptalk? 

Just look at our booth: Never replatform again, Unplatform™.

Elastic Path booth at Shoptalk 2024

In practice, that message represents the best way to implement the strategies and ideas introduced by the leading commerce minds at the show.

Unplatforming means

  • No working in a vacuum, as modular, standalone components mean getting to market fast
  • Restrained budgets and truncated timelines, as you solve business challenges piece-by-piece and scale at your own pace while enjoying access to a commerce-intelligent iPaaS.
  • Experimentation, as you expand what works, ditch what doesn’t, and drive more conversions and revenue in weeks – not months or years.
  • A strong commitment to solving business problems, as you move from the technology project of the replatform to the business project of the Unplatform.

We loved chatting with brands about our Unplatform approach at Shoptalk. Missed us at the show? Schedule time to chat with us today about your dreams for commerce innovation and how we can help.

Ready to join the brands pushing the boundaries of commerce innovation?

Connect with us today to see how our family of composable products will help you deliver unique commerce experiences.