Insights from ShopTalk Europe 2024: How artificial intelligence and personalization are changing the world of retail

This year’s ShopTalk Europe in Barcelona was a vibrant meeting of industry leaders, offering insight into the future of retail and e-commerce. We had the pleasure of meeting Klaudia Kitowska, eCommerce strategy leader, and Guillermo Alonso Fernandez, head of eMerchandising and regulatory filings at PXP CEE, who were present at this year’s edition of ShopTalk Europe, to discuss their most important observations from the event and find out what it means for companies .

Q> ShopTalk 2024 covered a wide range of topics, from digital transformation to consumer behavior. How are companies adapting to changing consumer behavior with rapid technological advancements?

Klaudia> The landscape is changing dramatically, especially as Generation Z and Generation Alpha redefine the standards of self-confidence and beauty. These consumers are moving away from a single beauty ideal in favor of diverse trends that reflect their moods and personalities. This paradigm shift requires brands to be more agile and innovative. For example, it is crucial to focus on iconic products and look for creators who have formed a creative team, as emphasized by Simone Dominici from Kikio Milano. As LVMH’s Laetitia Roche-Grenet noted, it’s about using technology where it really matters and maintaining an organic connection with consumers.

Guillermo> Strategically, companies need to adopt a digital-first approach, but adapted to today’s world. Deri Watkins of Mars Pet Nutrition emphasized the importance of having strategies that fit the digital landscape. For example, maintaining best-in-class product detail pages (PDPs) and executing end-to-end marketing strategies is fundamental. It’s about adaptability and continuous development to meet consumer needs.

Q> How is the concept of unified trade evolving and what does it mean for businesses?

Klaudia> Unified trade is becoming the norm rather than the exception. The goal is to provide a seamless, personalized shopping experience across all channels. As PepsiCo’s Gaurav Goel mentioned, failure to adopt unified trade means being left behind. This involves breaking down organizational silos and ensuring a coherent strategy at all levels. Bubble Skincare, a self-proclaimed disruptive brand, transcends traditional unified commerce with a 360-degree consumer-centric approach and cross-functional teams. In contrast, Mondelez highlights the challenges of silos and stresses the importance of a full-funnel approach, calling on professionals to “step beyond their role and be full-funnel performers.”

Guillermo> For businesses, unified commerce means not only connecting online and offline channels, but also creating a truly integrated consumer journey. An example of this is PepsiCo’s success during the Champions League activation period, in which the company achieved threefold growth compared to its previous operations. By establishing the fundamentals, activating omnichannel strategies and building a consumer-centric vision, companies can achieve significant growth. It’s about leveraging partnerships and data to create a connected experience that meets changing consumer demands.

Q> What role does artificial intelligence play in scaling personalization and improving customer experiences?

Klaudia> AI is a breakthrough in the field of personalization. At Zalando, tools such as the Zalando Assistant use artificial intelligence to create hyper-personalized shopping experiences, tailoring recommendations to individual preferences. Pandora uses artificial intelligence to analyze massive amounts of data, identify trends and offer personalized product suggestions. However, one of the significant challenges, as noted by Paloma Juncos from Loewe, is ensuring high-quality data. To effectively use AI, it is crucial to seamlessly integrate IT and business teams, helping to ensure a more consistent and engaging consumer experience.

Guillermo> The role of artificial intelligence in personalization goes beyond just data analysis; it’s about improving the overall interaction with the consumer. AI-powered personalization provides each customer with a unique experience, making their journey relevant and engaging. Jewelry brand Pandora’s use of artificial intelligence is focused on scaling personalization by using customer data to create highly personalized recommendations. BCG X’s Dirk Cohausz mentioned that a solid AI strategy includes fixing core elements like customer experience and data integration before scaling AI initiatives. This approach ensures that artificial intelligence not only personalizes but also humanizes the shopping experience, making it more interactive and intuitive.

Q> How can companies leverage the power of social commerce and influencer marketing?

Klaudia> Social commerce is authenticity and connecting with micro-communities. As elf Beauty’s Ekta Chopra noted, these communities can increase a brand’s presence in unexpected ways. The power of organic content and authentic collaboration among creators cannot be overestimated. Elena Montenegro of Bimba y Lola emphasized the importance of staying true to the brand while leveraging influencers to address specific regional needs.

Guillermo> Influencer marketing should focus on brand truth and organic content. Andrea Martins from Stanley1913 emphasized the importance of investing in top-notch activities to build brand love, which ultimately drives brand purchases. The goal is to leverage creators and influencers to understand consumer needs and deliver authentic experiences that deeply resonate with their audiences.

Q> What are the most important takeaways for companies looking to thrive in today’s market?

Klaudia> Collaboration and breaking down organizational silos is crucial. Learning from disruptive brands and effectively leveraging AI are essential strategies. Technology should solve real problems, not be implemented in itself. The idea is to create a coherent strategy that will be adapted to the changing needs of consumers and market dynamics.

Guillermo> Companies must be flexible and constantly develop. It is crucial to leverage the opportunities of digital commerce, use data to gain actionable insights and maintain a customer-centric approach. The integration of AI and technology should enhance, not replace, human connections and brand authenticity.