We’re thrilled to release Shoptalk's 2018 Preliminary Agenda, and excited to continue our mission to empower the retail and ecommerce ecosystem. Below are just some of the highlights of our groundbreaking preliminary agenda, which you can download here.

We're Showcasing Innovation from Around the World

The retail and ecommerce ecosystem is changing globally and no single geographic region has a lock hold on innovation. To fully understand how retail and ecommerce are evolving, a global lens has become essential. To provide this unique perspective to our audience, for 2018, we’re integrating Shoptalk and Shoptalk Europe into one unprecedented global experience that encompasses a broader cross-section of countries and companies. The result is a single event that offers a unique and complete view of retail and ecommerce innovation.

Our 2018 agenda will feature a significant number of European speakers and showcase innovation from Asia-Pacific with a focus on disruptive trends and technologies in China. You’ll hear from international speakers on the main stage, integrated into our regular track sessions as well as on sessions dedicated to specific countries, regions and global trends. More than 75 speakers from across Europe, Asia-Pacific and Latin America will join Shoptalk’s 2018 speaker lineup.

Descriptions of Shoptalk’s 2018 Tracks

The Evolution of the Retail Store. The Evolution of the Retail Store track will encapsulate a broad set of topics related to the physical shopping experience. Track sessions will cover topics ranging from ecommerce companies launching physical locations to new store design and how retailers are enhancing the in-store experience through both consumer-facing technologies as well as technologies that optimize store operations. It will dive into the changing formats and locations of retailers’ fleet of stores and the shifting needs of retailers and their employees when it comes to the store workforce.

The Future of Brands. The Future of Brands track will look at changing brand-retailer relationships and the implications of the growing number of new and emerging brands. It will also examine how brands are taking greater control over the customer experience, both online and offline. We’ll address these issues and also look at the rise of private label products as a growing trend across virtually every category in retail.

Shopping Experiences of the Future. The Shopping Experiences of the Future track will include sessions that address some of the most critical changes in store and online experiences and highlight new offerings to attract and convert shoppers. We’ll look at retailers that have some of the most innovative and seamless omnichannel shopping experiences; we’ll also address the rise of connected in-home devices and appliances and the impact these devices are having in commerce. This track will also look at the latest developments in augmented and virtual reality, as well as other advances in product visualization.  

The Retail Industry Shakeout. The last year has seen the retail industry routinely described in cataclysmic terms like “apocalypse” and “armageddon,” but a number of established retailers and startups are still flourishing in today’s environment. This track will look at the high-level trends reshaping the retail industry and will include perspectives from real estate developers as well as retailers. It will also look at the shifts in consumer behavior that are having the biggest impact on retail overall.

Conversational Commerce. In the last 12 months, we’ve seen massive consumer adoption of voice-activated assistants; at the same time, retailers and other businesses have increased their use of chatbots and messengers. Our Conversational Commerce track will dive into these areas as well as highlight some of the most innovative messaging apps around the world, with a focus on their commerce offerings and aspirations.

Shifting Ecommerce Trends and Technologies. The Shifting Ecommerce Trends and Technologies track will cover major shifts in how products and services are sold online. It will include a wide range of topics related to ecommerce, from the next generation of ecommerce search to connecting consumer touchpoints and reinventing retail business models online. It will look at the opportunity for brands to sell through online marketplaces in the U.S. and overseas and assess advances in AI and real-time personalization in ecommerce. This track will also include two perspectives from the venture capital world: One that will provide a broad look at emerging business models and technologies, and another in which venture capitalists who funded and helped nurture billion-dollar businesses will describe these companies’ paths to success.

Innovations in Delivery, Pickup and Logistics. The Innovations in Delivery, Pickup and Logistics track will explore advances in fulfillment, including developments in both at-home delivery and alternative pickup points. It will cover overall last-mile strategies, same-day shipping, store fulfillment and returns, and will also showcase some of the most cutting-edge logistics solutions being pioneered outside the U.S.

Advances in Payments and Checkout. The Advances in Payment and Checkout track will feature two sessions on payments: a keynote by leaders in the payments industry and a session that will highlight some of most exciting innovations happening in consumer payments today, both in the US and internationally. We’ll also have a checkout session that will look at how the checkout process is fundamentally changing where you’ll hear from the retailers and technology providers behind some of the most groundbreaking initiatives.

Engaging Customer Experiences. Our Engaging Customer Experiences track will dive into some of the core areas retailers are exploring to surprise and delight customers. We’ll look at mobile experiences in the shopping journey and highlight innovative mobile use cases beyond standard mobile shopping apps and websites; we’ll also look at some of the most exciting experiential retail experiences today. This track will also explore what it means to provide a truly personalized shopping experience today, whether online or offline.

Marketing Strategies and Technologies. The Marketing Strategies and Technologies track will examine how brands and retailers are adapting their marketing strategies to take advantage of new tactics, technologies and platforms. Executives from social networks will discuss how marketing on their platforms is changing while CMOs will speak to the future of marketing overall. We’ll highlight some of retail’s most innovative experiential marketing campaigns and discuss how AI is changing the industry in myriad ways, including in areas such as predictive marketing.

Product and Merchandising Strategies. The Product and Merchandising Strategies track will highlight some of the major shifts in how retailers develop products, from design to manufacturing and distribution. We’ll look at how the most forward-thinking retailers are optimizing pricing and product assortments, and also explore how AI and other technologies will enable retailers to better predict demand.

Culture and Leadership for Retail Innovation. The Culture and Leadership for Retail Innovation track will look at how traditional retail organizations are successfully cultivating technology innovation, whether through their own accelerators and R&D divisions, or by partnering with independent incubators and startups. It will also address how companies are developing the next generation of leadership as the knowledge and expertise needed to compete in a rapidly evolving market change.

The State of Global Retail and Ecommerce. The Global Perspectives track will analyze how retail and ecommerce are evolving outside of the U.S. The track will highlight best practices in operating in key international markets by showcasing some of the leading brands, retailers and startups in regions such as Latin America, Asia-Pacific and Europe. Conversations will highlight not only what it takes to succeed in these markets, but also examine some of the innovative retail initiatives being trialled in other regions of the world.

Specialty Content for Shoptalk 2018

Grocerytalk. This new 12-session track in 2018 will focus on some of the most pressing issues facing grocery retailers and CPG companies today. Grocerytalk will look at how these industries are changing and the most disruptive trends across the sector. Investors, retailers, CPG companies and technology providers focused on grocery will all discuss the massive shifts taking place in the industry--in addition to tackling areas like food safety and new in-store technologies, speakers will provide insights into areas of investment in grocery and CPG and highlight some of the innovative companies revolutionizing how consumers shop for both perishable and nonperishable products.

Innovation in China. Our Innovation in China track will kick off with experts providing an overview of technology and business innovation in China; it will also include a showcase of some of the most exciting retail concepts and initiatives in the world’s largest retail and ecommerce market.

Business School Perspectives. The Business School Perspectives track will include a series of interactive sessions with renowned professors from some of the world’s leading business schools. These sessions will feature short lectures by professors in which they’ll discuss recent research and findings focused on the retail industry, followed by Q&A with the audience.

Research and Market Insights. The Research & Market Insights track will feature 9 presentations by leading market research firms, industry organizations and equity research analysts. Each one will highlight a different theme or trend that can help retailers better understand their target markets or plan product roadmaps.

Startup Pitch. At Startup Pitch, 15 innovative early-stage companies will present their businesses to a panel of distinguished judges from the investment community to vie for two $25,000 prizes. Each company will have just 3 minutes to pitch their company and 3 minutes for Q&A with the judges. Two winners will be selected from the 15 competing startups: one winner will be selected by our panel of judges and the other through audience voting.

Disruptive Technologies and Pioneering Brands. The Disruptive Technologies and Pioneering Brands track will feature 48 innovative technology companies and emerging direct-to-consumer brands changing how consumers discover, shop and buy. An executive from each company will present his or her technology and business model.

Deep Dives. Our Deep Dives will build out four core areas on the agenda: Distribution Innovation, Manufacturing Innovation, Marketing and New Market Opportunities. Sessions will be tactical and interactive, and will include a high level of audience participation. Deep Dive sessions will typically start with a panel discussion followed by Q&A or interactive exercises with attendees.

Technologies Covered on the 2018 Agenda

Shoptalk’s 2018 agenda will include conversations about next generation technologies on virtually every session, but below are just a few areas we’ll cover in depth during the four days of the event:

Artificial Intelligence (AI). In 2018, a number of our sessions will have an AI focus. We have five sessions where we specifically call out AI: (1) AI and Predicting Demand, (2) AI and Real-Time Personalization, (3) The Next Generation of Search: AI, Visual and More, (4) AI and Predictive Marketing, and (5) Innovations in the Warehouse: Robotics, AI and Beyond. Additionally, sessions such as Chatbots, Messengers and More, as well as Commerce Through Voice-Activated Assistants, will discuss how AI is enabling increasingly sophisticated conversational commerce offerings. Elsewhere on the agenda, Pricing and Assortment Strategies will look at how AI is enabling retailers to optimize their sales.

Connected Devices. Our agenda will cover connected devices from several different angles. A dedicated session on Connected Devices and Appliances will look at the growing number of connected in-home devices that are facilitating product ordering and replenishment. The conversation on Voice-Activated Assistants will look at the rise of devices such as Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant and the growing commerce options they provide. Additionally, our Startup Pitch and Disruptive Technologies and Pioneering Brands tracks will feature early-stage companies whose businesses are based on consumer adoption of these devices.

Augmented and Virtual Reality (AR and VR).  Our agenda will tackle AR, VR and Advances in Product Visualization in a session that will look at the growing use cases for AR in categories such as beauty and home furnishings. It will also explore how retailers are experimenting with VR and what the long-term use cases will be. In addition, our Deep Dive on Marketing will look at the opportunities for new marketing campaigns using VR technology.

Fulfillment and Logistics. In addition to our dedicated track on Innovations in Delivery, Pickup and Logistics which will feature different sessions related to last-mile delivery, we’ll look at areas such as Warehousing Innovation and Logistics Innovation on our Deep Dives. These two sessions will take an in-depth look at some of the newest technologies such as Robotics, AI, Blockchain and RFID that are dramatically changing how products are managed and distributed.

Measurement and Analytics. Across the agenda, we’ll have a focus on how data is being collected, analyzed and applied to improve both business operations and the customer experience. Two separate sessions will analyze how companies are using predictive analytics to forecast product demand as well as shopper behavior -- on AI and Real-Time Personalization we’ll also examine how companies are taking advantage of real-time analytics to personalize shopping experiences, and on Measuring and Optimizing the Store Experience we’ll look at how new sources of data are being used to create better in-store experiences. Our Grocerytalk track will include a session on how more advanced use of data is enabling retailers to improve food safety and create a more transparent supply chain, while our Deep Dive on Advances in Attribution will tackle this issue from a retailer and brand perspective.

Mobile Technologies. In 2018, few of our sessions will call out mobile specifically since it has become such a fundamental part of every retailer and brand’s digital strategy that a discussion of mobile is now infused in almost every conversation across the Shoptalk agenda. However, our session on Mobile Experiences in the Shopping Journey will highlight three examples of brands and retailers that have created unique experiences for shoppers using mobile devices. Additionally, many of the companies on our Startup Pitch and Disruptive Technologies and Pioneering Brands tracks have mobile at the core of their offering.

Store Technologies. In a session on Interactive Store Technologies, we’ll discuss how the store is evolving and which consumer-facing technologies are having the biggest impact on driving sales and building loyalty. New solutions that help retailers and brands better understand both shopper behavior and store inventory will be discussed on our session on Measuring and Optimizing the Store Experience as well as on our Disruptive Technologies and Pioneering Brands track. The Evolving Store Workforce will look at some of the technologies stores are using to hire, train, manage and empower their store employees.

Marketing Technologies. In a track keynote, you’ll hear from the CMOs of a venture-backed startup and a traditional retailer who will discuss the marketing technologies that are helping them succeed in their roles. Our session featuring Social Network Executives will look at how leading social platforms are evolving and which technologies are enabling brands to better use them. The agenda will also include a look at some of the new Experiential Marketing tactics retailers are investing in to build their brands, from pop-up stores to social media influencers. We’ll also have a Deep Dive that will explore Advertising on New Platforms and a discussion of emerging areas of investment such as Assistants and Virtual Reality.