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Top 5 Takeaways from Shoptalk 2024 

When it comes to Shoptalk, what happens in Vegas definitely does not stay in Vegas — at least not when talking retail, CPG and eCommerce. The ebbo team just returned from this year’s packed event, and with dozens of panel discussions, over 100 speakers, and countless energized attendees, 2024 did not disappoint. Mandalay Bay was abuzz with the latest hot topics — and we’re fired up to share our top five takeaways: 

1. AI Chatter is Getting Louder

Generative AI wasn’t just a buzzword this year; it was a breakout star. It’s no secret that AI stands to transform retail and eCommerce as we know it, and a note we heard repeatedly focused on its ability to redefine customer interactions and build deeper loyalty. AI can personalize anything — product searches, recommendations, and, yes, loyalty programs, fostering deeper, more meaningful connections with shoppers. This aligns with the broader industry trend of leveraging AI — not just for internal optimization, but as a cornerstone of a cohesive brand experience across all touchpoints. 

Even with all the excitement surrounding AI’s potential, the importance of navigating this new frontier responsibly had an equal share of the spotlight. Protecting customer data, strategically deploying AI to avoid overwhelming customers, and carefully considering the cost-benefit analysis of scaling AI were all crucial discussion points. The emphasis remained on striking a balance between innovation and the irreplaceable value of human interaction. Case in point: on Day 2, Chris Rupp, CCO at Victoria’s Secret, discussed how AI is used to enhance product descriptions to assist front-line associates in selling effectively. We’re excited by this thoughtful approach: if done right, retailers that embrace AI stand to craft a seamless omnichannel experience that builds trust and, ultimately, lasting customer loyalty.  

2. The Omnichannel Journey  

Speaking of which, Shoptalk 2024 solidified the omnichannel experience as the undisputed king of eCommerce strategies. Consumer behavior has undergone a dramatic shift: gone are the days of online and in-store existing in separate universes. The new frontier is a seamless integration, connecting your website, social media and brick-and-mortar store (if you have one) to create a cohesive brand experience wherever your customer is. Even online-only brands are getting in on the act, partnering with physical stores (like online cosmetics brand Glossier, now available instore at Sephora or at their own brick-and-mortar locations.)  

Thie emphasis on channel cohesion puts consistency at the forefront; regardless of the customer’s chosen touchpoint, the brand message, products, loyalty incentives and service quality remain uniform. By prioritizing convenience, choice and unified experiences, eCommerce companies can meet today’s shopper expectations and resonate with them on a deeper level. In essence, omnichannel is not a trend, it’s the future. 

Want to dive deeper into this topic? Check out: A Seamless Journey: Unifying the Customer Experience through Loyalty 

3. Retail Media’s Gaining Ground

Retail media stole quite a bit of spotlight—and with its explosive growth in recent years (it’s poised to surpass linear TV ad spend by 2025), it’s easy to see why. This shift signals a significant power move for retailers, enabling them with two key advantages: a treasure trove of first-party data and a lucrative new revenue stream. 

Gathered directly from your customers, first-party data is marketing gold. With insight on purchase history, browsing behavior and demographics, it empowers retailers to craft targeted campaigns and encourage targeted behaviors. Likewise, it allows brands to advertise directly to highly-engaged customers already in a purchase mindset. This approach creates a win-win scenario: brands reach relevant audiences, and retailers earn revenue by providing valuable ad space. With the power of first-party data and the promise of significant new revenue, it’s clear that retail media has moved off the sidelines and onto the field as a central player in the marketing game. 

4. Profitability & the Case for Premium Subscriptions 

Rising costs and shrinking margins are still a top concern for retail, and sessions explored strategies like streamlining supply chains, using data analytics for waste reduction, mitigating vendor costs and, most notably, adding new revenue streams. This could be in the form of subscription services, premium memberships, leveraging retail media (see number three on our list) and even adding fee-based promotional overlays to an existing program. Lisa Roath, CMO at Target discussed their announcement last week moving to a 3-tier loyalty strategy, which includes a premium-tier subscription that includes same-day delivery service provided by Shipt (a Target property) to complement their curbside, ship-to-home and in-store shopping experiences. Roath referred to the benefits of making all options available to their consumers in order to meet them where they are. By offering tiered benefits, members can shop when and how they want, which can differ from customer to customer — and day to day.  

This one hit home for our team; as innovators in the loyalty solutions space, ebbo creates easy-to-scale subscription-based loyalty programs that are cash positive from day one. Considering that customers have adopted the subscription model — and that 64% of existing loyalty members would be willing to sign up for a paid offer if doing so gave them more valuable benefits* — it’s easy to see why subscription-based premium loyalty is a serious contender when it comes to easy-add revenue streams.  

5. Customer Experience Rules the Roost 

Empowered consumers and rising advertising costs continue to drive a strategic shift towards customer experience (CX).  Every merchant we spoke with is prioritizing CX in 2024, recognizing its impact on conversion, retention and ROI. By prioritizing zero- and first-party data opportunities, personalization, customer engagement and feedback as well as benefits and rewards-earning opportunities, brands can trigger new and repeat purchase — and ultimately foster deep customer satisfaction, loyalty and long-term value.  

*Source: ebbo 2023 Paid Enrollement Data Study 

Keep Up the Momentum 

The future of retail is bright, and we love Shoptalk for that reminder. It does, however, require a strategic approach that prioritizes customer experience and loyalty, leverages data and explores new revenue streams once unheard of. At ebbo, we’re passionate about helping brands achieve just that. 

Our comprehensive loyalty ecosystem offers a suite of tools and strategies designed to address today’s retail trends, drive incremental behaviors, increase customer lifetime value and add additional revenue streams — all while seamlessly integrating with your unique brand.  Ready to get started? Contact us today.  

ebbo

ebbo helps brands achieve their customer loyalty goals with full-service, end-to-end solutions and also creates original educational content straight from the experts to help loyalty marketers stay on the cutting edge of customer engagement.

https://www.ebbo.com/insights/blog/a-seamless-journey-unifying-customer-experience-through-loyalty/

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