ShopTalk 2023 Takeaways for Brands with DTC Channels

ShopTalk 2023 is in the books. As perhaps the largest gathering of retail and brands, the Las Vegas-hosted event was three days of non-stop innovation and inspiration (plus a fantastic performance by Nelly). As we headed home, we reflected on key topics and trends that are poised to shape the landscape for brands with DTC channels. 

Omnichannel and Unified Commerce 

Today’s shoppers have more choices than ever. And not just choices about what to buy, but where and how to buy it. To meet that demand, retailers and brands with DTC channels cannot depend on ecommerce sites alone. Instead, they must employ strategies that allow and enable shoppers to discover, research, buy and return anywhere. 

Brands must know their target customer and which channels that customer prefers. But the right channel mix is not enough. Brands have to have products and marketing that speak to the target customer and align with the customer’s emotions and values. 

To bring it all together and create a truly excellent customer experience, brands and retailers need to have the right technology in place. The technology needs to know the customer across channels – social, online, in-store – and meet the customer’s needs seamlessly.  

Strategic Global Expansion

There’s simply too much market opportunity outside a brand’s borders to not expand globally. With organic top-of-funnel exposure through social media and other digital channels transcending geographic boundaries, setting up ecommerce in new territories must be on a brand’s roadmap.

President and CEO of Walmart International, Jenna McKenna told the audience, “You’re either in [a global market] or you’re not. 50/50 is not where you want to be.”

McKenna noted that to go all-in and achieve success in new markets, brands must identify the right, experienced partner to go with them. The ideal partner is one with a network already established in the market and who can help optimise a brand’s global footprint for sustained profitability.

Customer Loyalty

Winning new customers costs much more than keeping current customers. Couple high acquisition costs with economic uncertainty and it’s no wonder that brands and retailers are focused on customer loyalty. To keep customers engaged, brands are employing both creative and tried-and-true strategies to keep shoppers coming back. 

  • SavageXFenty have a paid Extra VIP loyalty program in which customers pay a monthly fee and, in return, get access to exclusive product drops, members-only merchandise, promotions and discounts.  
  • ULTA Beauty’s traditional points-based loyalty program boasts more than 40 million customers. COO Kecia Steelman attributes success to “[offering] everything in one place across all price points.” 
  • Chewy is known for its pet supply subscription program and its highly personal touches that create loyalty. “Chewy remembers your name, remembers your pet, remembers your birthdays. We lead the market with our surprise and delight mechanisms and all of that leads to loyalty,” said Sumit Singh, CEO of Chewy. 

Generative AI

In the few months that ChatGPT has been in the scene, interest in generative AI has skyrocketed. And generative AI was among the most buzzed about topics at ShopTalk. While new and emerging tech often takes center stage at ShopTalk, retailers and brands with DTC channels see more immediate and concrete use cases for the technology. From inventory efficiencies to product description copy to customer service, generative AI boasts possibilities that could enhance customer experience, improve loyalty and increase revenue. 

While there are compelling use cases, brands must also proceed with caution and fully understand the limits of AI and the potential risks to business.  

The Takeaway 

Once again, ShopTalk delivered. As customers take to more channels to find and buy products, brands are searching for ways to create excellent experiences that don’t over-tax already stretched resources.  

Excellent ecommerce experiences don’t just happen. Brands that want to boost revenue and grow customer bases need to deploy proven solutions that meet and exceed customer expectations. ESW helps the world’s best-loved brands accelerate speed-to-market and sustained growth around the world. Contact us to talk about your brand’s goals. 

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