1. Industry Leaders Are Balancing Shifting Priorities

Kevin Kuntz, SVP of Global Logistics at Gap, struck a chord with retail executives when he spoke about the ongoing need to balance costs while also providing a superb customer experience. Executives are often left juggling what seem like competing priorities (cost efficiency, customer satisfaction, and sustainability goals) and as Kevin Kuntz explained, they have increasingly turned to third party partners to help them meet their goals.

2. Sustainability Is Shifting From a Consumer Preference to Strategic Initiative

Unsurprisingly, sustainability is a top priority for retailers in 2023. Executives are exploring ways beyond the sourcing of their clothes themselves to make their supply chains more sustainable. As new technologies emerge, opportunities have started to arise that previously were not possible: for instance, Kevin Kuntz described how Gap uses consolidated returns at dropoff points to cut down on their emissions while saving on costs.

3. Returns Are Top of Mind

More retailers are starting to look at returns as a way to differentiate themselves from their competitors. As customer expectations continue to increase (partially thanks to Amazon’s industry-disrupting returns policies), retailers are left fighting to maintain their customers’ loyalty. Most have invested in phenomenal front-end shopping and brand experiences, but more and more retailers are turning to returns as a way to set themselves apart from their customers by offering painless exchanges and easy package drop-offs.

4. Focus on All-In-One Platforms

With new customer expectations come new solutions: there is a fix out there for every problem that exists within the retail world. The challenge? Most of the solutions are separate, don’t talk to each other, and require a heavy lift from a retailer’s tech team to implement. At Shoptalk we saw an increased hunger for all-in-one solutions that can solve multiple problems at once, without having to disrupt existing systems.

5. Use Social Media for Authentic Messages

Perhaps unsurprisingly, social media is top of mind for every retail brand today. Digitally native brands have grown exponentially thanks to platforms like TikTok where they leverage the authentic, open format to make customers feel more involved with this brand. JuE Wong, CEO of Olaplex, discussed how Olaplex turned to TikTok in order to address concerns about the product: the result was that consumers were better educated about how to use Olaplex and also that they felt listened to. The engagement Olaplex was able to generate by creating an open, transparent conversation surprised them, but it reenforced what retailers have been buzzing about for the past year: social media is how brands grow today, and is absolutely critical as a tool in growing retail brands today.

If you didn’t have a chance to stop by our booth while you were at Shoptalk or if you want to learn more about what trends you can expect to see the rest of 2023, contact us to learn more.

White Paper

The Returns Dilemma: How to Avoid the Cost-or-Revenue Trap

Balancing a great customer experience and mitigating the cost of returns is an evergreen conundrum for retailers. Download the Returns Dilemma to understand the latest research around returns (hint: it’s becoming a more critical challenge to solve) and how to approach returns with a holistic mindset.