7 Cutting Edge Lessons For SMB Retailers From ShopTalk

May 24, 2016 Peter Krasilovsky


ShopTalk, a new mega-event with 3,000 attendees, took place May 15-18 in Las Vegas.   The event focused on the next wave of retail for both national and local merchants in the face of challenges from online giants such as Amazon, as well as the exciting new opportunities that technology provides  .  Here are some of the big takeaways we saw for SMBs:

  1. The customer experience is an essential part of the buzz, and should be consciously developed.  As Dollar Shave Club CEO Michael Dubin said at the conference: “It used to be about place/ product/price.  Now it is about the experience.” 
  2. Build your business as a “Digitally Native Vertical Brand.”  SMBs can lower their costs and build their reputation via social media and other content for cutting edge products, customer service and scale.
  3. Commerce has become "Mobile First."  Consumers expect price comparisons, product information, social media sharing and content to be available on the Web and on mobile.  That means getting your inventory and operations on the Web, as well as your marketing.
  4.  The ultimate goal for any SMB is deep personalization.  The personalization piece remains a big hole for SMBs, and also represents a big opportunity.  It is about more than addressing an email by a customer's first name.
  5. The “sharing economy” exemplified by companies like Uber and Airbnb  provides a lot of customer feedback.  SMBs should participate and focus on getting more feedback (and reviews).
  6. Delivery is a swing issue for many SMBs.  It is expensive, but can be leveraged by bringing in new customers, and made part of a synergistic delivery service such as Postmates or Google Express.
  7. Amazon – the Big A – is generally considered the company that retailers are all competing against.  In reality, Amazon may only be competing in some areas.  Understand what those are, and try to focus on different things (service, personalization, delivery etc.) 

About the Author

Peter Krasilovsky runs Local Onliner, a consulting firm that focuses on how digital channels target local consumers. “Local” has been a focus for him since 1995-96, and the firm's practice now includes search, marketplaces, geotargeting, vertical media and loyalty and promotion services. Peter was Chief Analyst and Vice President for BIA/Kelsey from 2006-2015. He holds an MA from The Annenberg School of Communications at The University of Southern California and a BA from Sarah Lawrence College in Bronxville, NY. He currently resides with his wife Sharon in Ashland, Oregon.

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