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Retail tech loses luster at Shoptalk

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Mar 22, 2024
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Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Though AI and supply chain remained hot topics at the retail conference Shoptalk this year, the retail tech category is losing some shine.

Why it matters: Despite waning investor optimism, there were lots of retail tech startups on the trade show floor.

What they're saying: Many retail tech startups are getting down-round investments and smaller contracts from strategics, ComCap's Aron Bohlig told Kimberly on the sidelines.

  • "VCs are frustrated that none of these companies are growing as they expected," he added.

Other highlights from the conference include...

Macy's CEO Tony Spring acknowledged a disconnect with the retailer's customers.

  • "There are a few brands that have as deep a heritage and a strong emotional connection with their customers and bases. But it's become clear that our customer's needs are not fully being met."
  • Spring didn't address the company's ongoing take-private discussions with activist investors, instead, reiterating his four-pillar plan.

Home Depot sees plenty of white space for smaller players in retail media networks.

  • "The bigger kind of retailers…will set the standard for some of those things in the market and others will have to follow," says Home Depot vice president of retail media and monetization Melanie Babcock.
  • "There's a lot of innovation that will happen in this category so that smaller retailers can participate. And it may not look like what I've built and that's OK."
  • "There could be more out-of-the-box solutions, or joining into this kind of broader network could be some of the possibilities."

GoodWillFinds is leveraging influencers and TikTok Shop in its recommerce strategy.

  • "It's a lot of merch. There's a lot of things there." says GoodWillFinds chief revenue officer Jim Davis.
  • "It can't just be applying technology to help personalize that experience to make sure that the right items are ... bubbling up for you," he adds. "There's going to have to be other mechanisms that allow for very low acquisition costs of new eyeballs."
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