Behind the Screens: Key Themes from Shoptalk 2024

Behind the Screens: Key Themes from Shoptalk 2024

Shaping the future of online retail starts with improving the customer experience, a common theme discussed among Shoptalk 2024 attendees. Join us as we unpack key topics from the conference and what their implementation means for businesses and consumers.

Retail Media

There were a handful of sessions that focused on Retail Media this year. Speakers like Colleen Aubrey, SVP of Ad Products & Technology at Amazon; Melanie Babcock, VP of Retail Media+ & Monetization at The Home Depot; and Eric Tarnowski, SVP of Connected Commerce at Kenvue, spoke on topics that ranged from “Embarking on a Retail Media Journey” to “The Future of Retail Media.”   

And for good reason. The idea of leveraging data to place relevant ads in front of shoppers is gaining popularity — even more so with Google’s recent announcement

“It makes sense why Retail Media is so important to retailers: it creates an additional, high-margin revenue stream for businesses trying to become more profitable in tougher economic climates,” Kevin Laymoun, CRO at Constructor, shared on LinkedIn

Retail Media allows retailers to surpass ad blockers to maintain product visibility, better connect brands with shoppers, and enhance shoppers’ journeys. And with the right solution, retailers can even guarantee ad revenue via strategic ad placement based on customers’ historical data.

“More and more retailers have entered this space over the last few years, but suffer from terrible and irrelevant ads that cost them organic revenue (i.e. one [Constructor] customer mentioned seeing ads for incontinence products come up for searches on “cereal”),” said Kevin. 

Good product data

Of equal importance for retailers is having good product data. This allows sponsored search listings to lead to business success. 

“Maintaining attractive results for end-customers, while balancing the Retailer’s ability to offer brand-bidding on product ranking, is fundamentally reliant on the quality of the underlying product attributes and the ability to recall them within the correct context,” stated Kevin.

kevin laymoun constructor retail media solutions shoptalk 2024

Generative AI (GenAI)

This is where Generative AI (GenAI) steps in, an emerging technology that was discussed in sessions with companies like Sur La Table, Rakuten, and Walmart.  

Ecommerce solutions powered by GenAI allows retailers to clean up and enrich their product data to improve product rankings and the overall product discovery experience.

But with GenAI comes great responsibility. 

At Shoptalk, retailers were instructed how to look beyond the general AI hype and implement GenAI-powered technology for tangible ROI, a topic covered by Mokshika Sharma, VP of Product & Technology at Sur La Table, and Karin Tracy, Head of Industry – Retail, Fashion, Luxury at Meta during their session titled “Case Studies: Pioneering Applications of Generative AI.” 

As product discovery experts have been advising for months, start by experimenting early to shine light on its best use cases. 

“Proactively experiment with new product search and discovery technology now,” said Eli Finkelshteyn, CEO of Constructor. “Don’t wait until it’s a must five years down the line because then you’ll be playing catch-up to your competitors.”

AI-Based Personalization

Several sessions focused on AI-driven personalization. Topics ranged from “Leveraging AI to Scale Personalization” to “AI, Data and Personalization Solutions,” and speakers ranged from Kamanasish Kundu, VP and Head of Digital & Ecommerce at Kendra Scott, to Jessica Lachs, VP of Analytics & Data Science at DoorDash.

And understandably so. 

Consumers expect brands to demonstrate they know them on a personal level, with over 70% of consumers expecting companies to recognize them as individuals and know their interests. 

AI-based models have the power to meet and exceed those expectations with their ability to ingest big data and extract insights at scale. These abilities are especially important for ecommerce retailers and companies with large product catalogs.

Chris Clark, Co-founder and CTO of Grove Collaborative, shared his company’s experience leveraging AI during an exclusive Shoptalk interview

“[Grove Collaborative] started off in home cleaning. That’s a category where selection was smaller, and search and discovery was a bit less important,” shared Chris. “… As our product catalog expanded, our homegrown [search] solution started to be more challenged. At the same time, it was more important for customers to understand the breadth and depth of our catalog in different ways.” 

To keep up with rapid business growth, Grove Collaborative turned to a product discovery solution that offered AI-based personalization paired with out-of-the-box functionalities and an API-first architecture.

By transforming their personalization capabilities, Grove Collaborative was able to not only drive 20.07X overall ROI, but also drastically improve the customer experience. 

For more on Grove Collaborative, read the full story on how they upleveled their product discovery experience with Constructor.

One thing is clear coming out of Shoptalk 2024: retailers and brands that opt for tech that best fits their business needs and prioritizes customer experience will gain a competitive edge. To unlock new growth opportunities and differentiation in an increasingly competitive landscape, strategy, experimentation, and focus are the name of the game.