I am grateful for the recent opportunity to have been immersed deep into conversations, presentations, workshops, introspection and plenty more on ecommerce at the Shoptalk conference in Las Vegas this week.

This conference is the best ecommerce and business conference this year, in the world. I know because I did it last year and that is how good it was.

Shoptalk 2016 resulted in two tangible business changes in my own businesses; changes that have helped us connect with new shoppers, raise brand awareness and evolve to more current models.

I attended with six colleagues from Tower Systems and newsXpress, and more than 5,000 other retail and ecommerce practitioners. Each individual had a different takeaway from the event, as well as group-wide, whole-of-business takeaways.

Inspirational, exciting and terrifying are words that describe the experience of Shoptalk.

We heard from the best of the best and from those who want to disrupt the status quo with innovative, online and retail models that turn tradition on its head.

I appreciate that it can feel like this is a world away from the neighbourhood store where everyday challenges are the most important thing to you right now. The reality, however, is that this world of online is taking more shopper attention every day and you will probably not know the extent to which this is happening now or in the near future.

Shoptalk has been excellent in helping us understand where these unseen online competitors are playing, as well as the strategies they are using to attract our current shoppers. In the UK, the supermarkets have been delivering to the customers’ doors from their websites for years.

For many reasons, I am not going to share specific information here as it is an advantage being here, attending the sessions and networking with so many innovative large and small retailers. Another reason is that with a conference such as this, the most valuable insights take time to evolve into actionable items.

I do have one point to make, though, and that is: having an online shopping strategy is key as this is the most important and valuable way to find new shoppers and, of course, new customers are gold in this world.

Having a lack of an active, online presence is not an option for any retail business today, whether large or small.

While one word I used was ‘terrifying’ to describe what I have learned at Shoptalk, the reality is that it is a massive motivator. It is exciting!

The changes in retail today are at a faster and larger pace than in recent decades. This certainly is a time of extraordinary shift, and that is outside the changes and tectonic shifts occurring in the retail businesses that I am involved with – the Australian newsagency channel.

What is happening is happening. It is real. It will affect you, and businesses of any size and in any location can be part of it.

There will be a Shoptalk event being held in Copenhagen in October. Will you be attending?