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Four key takeaways from Shoptalk Europe 2024

27 June 20245 minute read

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Oliver Crowther, BaaS Sales Director at NatWest Boxed

Shoptalk Europe 2024 took place in Barcelona from 3 to 5 June, providing insights into the transformation of European retail in a rapidly changing world. While the event covered a wide range of topics, here are some noteworthy takeaways that support our views at NatWest Boxed.

1. Rethinking customer loyalty 

Alejandra Tenorio from RMS Beauty, a US based pioneer of the clean beauty movement, delivered one of my favourite talks at Shoptalk, emphasising the message: “Keep it simple”, in regards to loyalty programmes. Recognising customers is crucial, with 83% returning to the retailer when they feel acknowledged. 

At NatWest Boxed we believe that tangible loyalty is becoming increasingly important for driving customer lifetime value. Our recent research with a large electronical retailer demonstrated that instead of points, cashback and discounts seems to be the major attraction for their customers. Brands need to understand that loyalty programmes are more than just collecting and converting points. A strong loyalty program creates a deep relationship between customers and brands, as long as the customer feels they are gaining something meaningful to them. With a strong understanding of the customer, brands can tailor rewards that resonate best with their customers. 

When loyalty is done right, it drives repeat business for brands. Our research with Boston Consulting Group demonstrates that by embedding and offering financial services into their customer journeys, retailers boosted engagement and loyalty by increasing their basket size by 15-30% and increasing repeat purchases specifically in the fashion segment by 3-5%.  

2. Unified commerce

One of the key trends discussed was “unified commerce”, highlighted by Ben Miller from ShopTalk, where retailers are shifting from a channel-centric to a consumer-centric view, emphasising a unified tech stack to drive purchasing efficiencies. Ben spoke about the principle of enabling shoppers to buy your brand or from your store wherever they are, whenever they want. 

This supports our research at NatWest Boxed, where we identified that omni-channel strategies play a major role in the customer experience. The ability to buy online and return in-store, or vice versa, offers customers the flexibility they demand.

Furthermore, “Single View of the Customer” (the holy grail of retail, with many retailers struggling to achieve this), can be achieved through having a unified data platform to enable a seamless exchange of data. 

Brands like Currys and Ikea highlighted the importance of integrating e-commerce with physical stores to enhance customer interactions. The term ‘phygital’ was mentioned several times, with brands also turning to gamification to improve customer experience. For instance, Instacart and BP are gamifying their customer experiences to make daily chores like grocery shopping more engaging by digitalising shopping carts.

Additionally, the CEO of Currys', Alex Baldock, discussed the importance of offering services to customers, with their repairs and refurbishment business driving significant loyalty and increasing the circularity of their business model. Furthermore, when discussing whether or not Alex is worried about cannibalising Currys’ customers as they further expand their services business, he responded “We’d much rather cannibalise ourselves than have somebody else do it to us” - a very honest and pragmatic view, in our opinion.

Other noteworthy takeaways: 

3. Generative AI

We all knew it was coming… AI was one of the most frequently used phrases at the event, with retailers discussing how they are integrating it into the customer journey.

AI presents a great opportunity for the retail industry to streamline efficiencies (internally and externally), particularly in driving personalisation, which was a key trend among the retailers who spoke on the topic. Amazon held a very thought-provoking session on using AI for promotion accuracy, market trend forecasting, and real-time size recommendations based on brand-specific insights and customer preferences. However, many retailers noted the need for a strategic approach to AI implementation to avoid the risks of moving too quickly or too broadly.

4. Social shopping

With roughly five billion people active on social media, using up to seven different platforms each month, the creator economy is expected to double in value from £250bn in 2023 to £500bn in 2027. This presents a significant opportunity for brands to connect with consumers through content that drives purchasing habits.

An enlightening discussion featuring Elena Montenegro from Bimba y Lola highlighted the importance of relationships with key influencers in relevant territories. These relationships play a major role in their marketing strategy, increasing brand power and the bottom line. As more consumers use social media to discover fashion ideas and explore new brands, delivering valuable and meaningful content is crucial for enticing customers to make purchases.

A big thanks to Shoptalk, their excellent organisation and the insightful content. It was great to hear from both leading and emerging brands, who are developing innovative retail strategies and rethinking their future approaches to customer engagement and revenue growth. We look forward to Shoptalk 2025! 


Oliver Crowther, BaaS Sales Director at NatWest Boxed

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