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Top Three Retail Trends from the 2023 Shoptalk Conference

April 3, 2023

3 min read

Last week at Shoptalk, Koalafi met with retailers, attended panel discussions on the most important trends shaping the industry, and discussed different approaches to common challenges retailers are facing.

Here are the top themes our team took away from this exciting and insightful event.

Edited vs. Generative AI

It’s no surprise that the rapid advancement in AI technology was a key topic at Shoptalk. Retail and software industry leaders, including Jeffrey Katzenberg, founder of WndrCo, discussed the wide ranges of AI, from less-regulated generative AI to “sanctioned” or edited AI. The latter involves greater use of guardrails and rules to govern the AI output. Given how critical reliability and consistency are to a great customer experience, “edited” AI is likely what brands and retailers should focus on to take advantage of this powerful technology while providing a consistent and on-brand customer experience.

Unified vs Omnichannel

The conversation shifted from “omnichannel” to “unified” channels. Retailers who focus on unifying the experience across channels offer their customers more convenience, with less friction. Here are a few examples of how industry leaders are taking a more sophisticated approach to unifying the customer experience across in-store and online.

  • Shifting from channel-specific to category-specific organization structure: Best Buy restructured their corporate teams around categories, independent of channel, to align their teams to how customers are often browsing and shopping in different channels.

  • Leveraging the mobile app to connect channels: Instacart enables customers to search for more products online while they shop in-store. If something isn’t available on the shelf, they can often still purchase the item for same-day delivery.

  • Providing consultative services in-store: Many shoppers research diamonds and jewelry online, but want to see the stones or products in store. At Brilliant Earth, customers can research products online and then schedule an in-store consultation. With this approach, the sales associates are able to prep for the consultation and provide a more personalized and curated selection for the in-store visit.

  • Unifying payment methods across channels: At Koalafi, we provide payment plans for the 47% of consumers who aren’t eligible for traditional longer-term financing options, like BNPLs or store credit cards. Our customers can apply in one channel and shop for important, high-ticket items, with their approval in a different channel so it’s a seamless financing experience wherever they shop.

Customer centricity in a cookie-less world

High-quality customer data is a critical component of an effective, and personalized, marketing strategy. However, limitations on cookie tracking are an imminent obstacle to data collection. To capture more first-party data, retailers are doubling down on their mobile app experience to keep customers in their ecosystem.

Loyalty programs, such as Petco’s Vital Care program, are another avenue for retailers to drive more direct engagement. This makes it easier for Petco to learn more about their customers. In addition to capturing more first-party data, retailers are often partnering with their vendors to share data to get a richer picture of their customers.


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Koalafi offers Lease-To-Own and Lending solutions. Loans issued by The Bank of Missouri, serviced by Koalafi