This past Sunday, I traveled across the country with the NetElixir team to attend the 2017 ShopTalk conference in Sin City. Almost everything about the show was new. It was my first trade show with NetElixir, our first time sponsoring ShopTalk, and only the second iteration of the conference itself. With new experiences come new insights, and the past few days in Las Vegas were no exception. Here are just a few lessons I learned from attending:
I didn’t know what to expect when I walked into ShopTalk. Second-year trade shows aren’t supposed to run smoothly – they’re often littered with logistical flaws, IT mishaps, or food debacles. And with more than double the attendance of last year’s show, I was expecting a healthy dose of growing pains going in.
Boy, was I wrong. The conference was executed with near perfection, and guests were raving about the setup and flow of the event. Attendees were delighted with the quality of the speakers, sponsors were happy to see high level retails execs roaming the floor, and everyone was utterly impressed with the way this new conference had burst onto the scene from practically nowhere.
This provides a valuable lesson for all businesses: Flawless execution can overcome barriers, even in a crowded market.
Quality Education is in High Demand
As I noted earlier, one of the highlights of the show was the sheer size of their educational catalog. The event highlighted new keynote speakers, brought back old favorites, and featured dozens of interesting panels to provide a truly unique experience. Nearly every retailer I spoke with remarked on the quality of the content. In fact, the most popular gripe was that it was too difficult to pick which sessions to attend at each time slot.
The takeaway here is clear. Despite having unprecedented access to information via the internet and social media, business leaders still need reliable, curated content that they can depend on. This reinforces our continued focus to deliver primary research, data-driven insights and unique perspectives through our NetElixir University initiative.
Big Data is a BIG Deal
After speaking with hundreds (yes, hundreds) of retail executives over three days, I was able to pick up on a few universal needs. One that stood out, in particular, was the need to understand the consumer journey in order to optimize the online marketing mix. Retail marketers and technology vendors are betting big on advances in big data, AI, and machine learning to make sense of raw information and transform it into insights.
Luckily for us, it validated our analytical approach to discovery management and justified our continued investments in our LXR Insights portal – a comprehensive technology that tracks clicks before, during and, after the purchase to deliver comprehensive customer journey maps.
Empathy is Attractive
With over 5,000 attendees and thousands of vendors, we knew it’d be difficult to stand out. So we tried a different approach. Instead of aggressively pitching everyone that met our eyeline, we sat back, smiled, and started every conversation by asking instead of telling.
The results were incredible. Most people wanted to have a friendly introduction rather than a traditional sales pitch. This led to genuine conversations, realistic expectation setting, and honest question and answer sessions. Though the quantity of our meetings was lower than some other sponsors, the quality of the conversations was considerably higher.
See You Next Year?
Overall, I was highly impressed with the ShopTalk Conference, and I’m convinced it’ll continue to be one of the top retail trade shows for years to come. I expect to be there next year with the NetElixir team – and I hope to see you there, too!