Shoptalk takes shape, new event focused on next-gen commerce

A new event for retailers and consumer package goods executives is taking shape called Shoptalk and the successful entrepreneurs behind its creation have big plans and funding to make it happen.

Retailers and suppliers who are veterans of traditional trade shows are in for a first-of-its-kind experience at a new event called Shoptalk, according to the organizers of the event slated for May 16-18 in Las Vegas. With $2.5 million in seed money to launched Shoptalk, the event is billed as providing attendees an unmatched opportunity for dialogue and interaction that will serve as a catalyst for the entire commerce ecosystem. Roughly 2,000 people are projected to attend the event the first year representing a range of retailers, brands, investors, Internet companies and tech startups unified by an unprecedented agenda.

Over the course of three days, the value proposition for attendees is built around discovery, discussion and collaboration.  Shoptalk’s organizers want the event to be a platform where attendees discover groundbreaking solutions, trends and new directions to take their businesses, discuss and debate the latest and most novel business models across all commerce verticals and collaborate in new ways to forge innovative partnerships and fund new ventures.

The vision for Shoptalk is driven by chairman Anil Aggarwal who believes the world of commerce is undergoing a fundament transformation where the unification of physical and digital has created world in which everyone creates, curates and consumes differently.

“Connected and empowered, today's consumers expect a wide range of new integrated, on-demand and personalized products, services and experiences. This is the future of commerce,” Aggarwal said. “It's far more than just the incremental shift to omnichannel that dominates today's dialogue: It's a reinvention of how consumers discover, shop and buy everything."

Aggarwal and Shoptalk co-founder Jonathan Weiner had a similar revelation roughly five years earlier when they created an event called Money 20/20 that was focused on the rapidly changing world of financial technology or FinTech. The content rich event cut across all segments of the finance world so it was common to see buttoned downed CEOs of banks, credit card companies and major retailers rubbing shoulders with bitcoin entrepreneurs and startups looking to disrupt the payments world. Money 20/20 proved wildly successful and the pair sold the show last fall. An estimated 10,000 people are expected when the fourth installment of the event is held this Oct. 25-29 in Las Vegas.

“After the sale of Money 20/20, I lifted my head up and was thinking about what to do next and determined there was a need for an event like Shoptalk. The reception from the industry has been, ‘we absolutely need this type of platform to serve as a catalyst for dialogue,’” Aggarwal said. “I envision Shoptalk, with its focus on all commerce across every vertical, being to commerce what Money 20/20 is for FinTech. I couldn’t be more excited about what I am doing at this stage in my career.”

Joining Aggarwal and Weiner to build Shoptalk is long-time Silicon Valley entrepreneur Don Kingsborough who most recently served as vice president of retail and prepaid products at PayPal and prior to that founded Blackhawk Network. In addition, to get Shoptalk off the ground the trio has $2.5 million in funding from venture capital investors Commerce Ventures and Primary Venture Partners.

"As investors in companies that are shaping the future of commerce, we're thrilled to invest in Shoptalk," said Dan Rosen, managing partner, Commerce Ventures, who led Shoptalk's funding. "We share the team's mission to build a new community of commerce innovators and restructure the conversation to center around the disruptive technologies and innovations that are changing the basics of personal consumption."

A case could be made that retailers and suppliers don’t need another trade show or industry conference. After all, nearly every other week there is an event of some type focused the retail and CPG world and the various disciplines within it. However, the same thing could have been said four years ago when, amid a plethora of conferences in the finance world, Aggarwal and Weiner created Money 20/20 with a forward-looking emphasis on content and broad view of the finance world.

Applying that same view of commerce to Shoptalk, the emphasis will be on 10 trends event organizers regard as revolutionary and redefining that are impacting all types of commerce. They include:

• Pioneering brands and retail models
• On-demand services, delivery and logistics
• Collaborative consumption and the sharing economy
• Integrated, omnichannel shopping
• Search, discovery and curation
• Consumer-centric product development and customization
• Delightful user experiences and interfaces
• Anywhere, anytime marketing
• Measurement and analytics everywhere
• Globalization and borderless shopping

Clearly, Aggarwal, Weiner and Kingsborough are casting a wide net which helps explain the bold projections for first year attendance and expectations for Money 20/20-like growth in subsequent year.

"Disruption is the new norm in retail and commerce. We see Shoptalk as the definitive annual event to organize this transformative change in a meaningful, efficient way—and to provide a venue for important in-person collaboration among all ecosystem stakeholders,” Kingsborough said.

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