Six lessons from Shop Talk 2019

Find out six lessons betterRetailing learnt from the largest retail trade conference in the world, Shop Talk

Shop Talk is one of the largest retail trade conferences in the world and is held annually in Las Vegas. This year, I had three colleagues from newsXpress with me. The learning and insights that we gain for our Australian-based newsagency business is amazing and gives us so much to consider and implement that the true value of the trip will probably not be fully realised until well into next year.

My journey from our news heritage is in the gifts and collectable categories as there is less competition in the Australian marketplace than the convenience channel. Many of the things we learned from Shop Talk are of value to the UK neighbourhood retail scene, so I’ve singled out six key points for retailers to take away.

1. Create a mission statement

Asking yourself why you run your business, how it supports the health and wellbeing of your community, and how lightly it impacts the environment are some of the questions you need to answer to craft an effective mission statement. A mission statement that is purposeful and is produced with full engagement of your store team will change the dynamics of your business.

2. Empower your staff

Multiple retailers used to work by building and developing store teams, from managers to sales assistants. In the digitally-connected environment, many businesses are run from head office and the store team has much less control. Retailers are looking to regain this empowerment to bring value and responsibility back to store level to improve engagement. It is important for independent business to empower their store teams and include them in business decisions.

3. Move quickly

A significant message across Shop Talk was the speed with which changes are happening. Big store chains are developing strategies that deliver actions much quicker than even two or three years ago. Reacting quickly used to be where independent business had an advantage. It seems that only the fastest stay ahead of the best big stores.

4. Don’t let history define you

UK and Australian newsagents have a shared heritage in historically being a key part of newspaper distribution. We have all suffered from declining circulation across the formerly successful categories. To be successful in the future, we need to find a new personality that will renew or refresh our customer base. The CTN model has already faded, and convenience is changing with food to go. The opportunity that your space and your people offer are the most valuable asset you have for future success, not what you used to sell.

5. Meet the needs of younger shoppers

Millennials and younger generations – these ages groups will continue to grow in importance. What businesses do now to speak to them and meet their expectations will determine success. Capturing them now will mean you are more likely to keep their interest in the future. Just remember that this generation have grown up with digital and they are likely to want to find you there.

6. Be authentic 

Being relevant to your customers means stocking what they want to buy. Every neighbourhood demands and needs a different offer. Don’t try to be another version of the store down the road. Be your authentic self.


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