Shoptalk Barcelona: Takeaways from Europe’s top retail tech event

Emilie Robert
Global Vertical Retail Lead & Global Client Executive
Pascal Malotti
Global Retail Strategy Lead & Strategy Director at Valtech France

07. Juni 2024

Shoptalk Europe unites the leaders in Europe’s retail, brand and tech landscape. It’s the continent’s best event to explore how innovative ideas and technologies are shaping retail. Below are our takeaways plus some of the best insights and ideas we heard in Barcelona.

Retail success story: What happens when you let customers lead the way

Simone Dominici, CEO of cosmetics and skincare brand KIKO Milano, gave an impressive presentation on Monday about the ways global brands are driving growth via innovation and collaboration.

Simone explained how retailers are blurring the lines between online and physical. This must be done smartly, he said, because otherwise you end up with a digital screen between your customer and your product. That is the opposite of what you want to achieve in your stores.

He also touched on how important and subtle communication for luxury shops must be, as it's so easy to damage brand perception.

Further, Simone talked about how consumers today have “shifted from a model of following brands to a model of creating their own stories. "This has been an advantage for companies like us, who anticipated these trends, by not chasing followers across the different social media, but inspiring creators to create content together with us."

Younger consumers, especially, want to take control over the way they express their own individual beauty, Simone said.


The sessions confirmed retail trends we already identified

The first post-COVID years brought about an innovation frenzy among retailers. Now, these brands have a new perspective and are refocusing on customer needs. This means balancing convenience and value while prioritizing cultural relevance.

A Monday afternoon session addressed this. On stage were:

  • Sara Sjöberg, Head of Marketing & Digital Sales, South Europe at H&M
  • Roger Graell Sole, Chief Digital Officer at Bata Group
  • Stijn Demeersseman, Chief of Staff at Amazon Fashion Europe
  • Jennifer Berry, CEO of Digitas UK, who was the interviewer

Together, the four explored how inflationary pressures had knocked loose an old equilibrium between convenience and price. Shoppers seek convenience along the full path to purchase, whether they shop in-store or online, but they tend to be sensitive to price.

The panelists talked about how their companies leverage new technologies to adapt to ever-evolving customer expectations, particularly regarding convenience and price.

The bottom line: Retailers are all seeking new ways to provide value to shoppers while keeping costs in check.


Relevance implies continuous innovation

For retail brands, staying relevant means working every day to improve and innovate. This applies to the brand as well as to the products themselves. If you don’t bring innovation to your products, expect customers to focus on price instead or move to the competition.

Continuous adjustment applies to prices, too. Whether a retailer aims to raise or lower their prices, the brand still must always create value for the customer. That’s something that requires innovation and improvement every single day.

For younger consumers today, relevance is tied to whether a brand has a strong purpose. Brands that stand for something have a better chance of winning the loyalty of those consumers.

Observations from the week

Beyond the major themes of Shoptalk, we wanted to highlight a handful of things we liked about the event:

  • Inspiring women led many of the conversations on stage.
  • A spirit of transparency permeated. Top retailers shared genuine examples of their work, and they did so openly.
  • Top-notch organization. The event went smoothly, and being on-site was a nice experience.


Innovation through time

On June 3, Valtech co-hosted our own intimate event, Innovation Through Time, on the first evening of Shoptalk Europe at the iconic Casa Batlló.

Pascal and Lukas Rose, Head of Strategy and Partner at Valtech RADON, began the evening with a pair of talks on how retailers can cut through the noise and focus on what matters. 

Marie Masselot, Group Product Manager at Ocado, gave us a great overview of how that company has productized their Retail Media Platform.

Afterward, Ashkhen Zakaryan, Valtech VP of Global Strategic Alliances, hosted a panel discussion around the key opportunities and challenges in retail this year. Panel members included:

  • Sven van Hegelsom, Customer Value Director at commercetools
  • Charlie Bell, Senior Director of Solution Engineering at Contentful
  • Solène Le Saout, Head of Partnerships EMEA at Algolia
  • Tal Ofer, Channel and Alliances Director at Cloudinary

After a long day, guests were excited to hear panel members talk shop — how customer behaviors are changing, how technology can connect in-store and online experiences in a way that drives customer engagement, the emerging role of AI — in a cozy setting.

Turnout exceeded our expectations, too. “I heard from a few people, ‘I was planning to be elsewhere tonight, but someone said Valtech is hosting an event at Casa Batlló, and we had to be there,’” Ashkhen said.

We were honored to host our guests. The venue was dreamy and delivered an event that inspired us, our speakers and our guests.

We all appreciated having that moment to look at the biggest trends in retail, critically analyze them, and identify what actionable insights we all needed to bring back to our teams, our clients and our partners.

The intersection of retail, technology and innovation

A recurring theme throughout the week was how transformative both MACH architectures and a focus on experience innovation can be for retail and CPG brands.

It’s easy for these kinds of conversations to get lost in the hype, Ashkhen said. It's much harder for brand leaders to recognize what’s useful and what’s just noise. “At the end of the day, it’s trying to distill the difference between what a retailer can implement today in a competitive market.”

That takes education, she said. Key decision-makers and board members need to understand why investing in some of the latest technologies is important.

Throughout the week, we had the chance to talk about the technologies that do actually prioritize human connection and cultural exchange, and how brands can create human-centric experiences with those technologies.

As concepts such as these continue to transform retail, Shoptalk Europe has provided a clear glimpse into how technology and innovation will intersect to unlock memorable customer experiences.

Want to learn more about creating these kinds of experiences for retail customers? Contact either of us today:

Pascal Malotti
Global Retail Strategy Lead & Strategy Director at Valtech France
Emilie Robert
Global Vertical Retail Lead & Global Client Executive


Let's reinvent the future