ShopTalk vs.  Leading Indicators for the Future of North American Retail by David Matthews


Returning from a disappointing convention, I’m thinking about the differences between my ShopTalk experience and my experience in 2017.  While I’m grateful that several of our investees reported making several good connections, I didn’t feel the show was worth the time and money RevTech expended.  Here are my top seven observations:


  1. was devoid of the energy and excitement experienced at ShopTalk. It was cold, quiet, and empty feeling.  To make up for the emptiness, there was a gigantic lounge area in the center of the show floor.  This was actually nice, as it provided tremendous opportunity for 1-on-1 coffee meetups.
  2. Startup innovators were relegated to the sidelines at, yet were the nucleus at ShopTalk. I loved that, at ShopTalk, it was impossible to make it to either the content sessions or the meals without encountering a few startups along the way!
  3. Amazon, the 800-pound gorilla of ecommerce, had very little presence at, but was an integral participant at ShopTalk.
  4. At ShopTalk, all members of the ecosystem – retailers, vendors, agencies, media, ecommerce, startups, and mature companies – had balanced representation; at, the vendors talked to each other and the retailers hid from the vendors!
  5. The graphics for’s promotional materials looked like they were created in the 80’s; the graphics for ShopTalk were modern and engaging – caricatures were created for each of the many presenters.
  6. At ShopTalk, the sessions and show floor were packed; at, the show floor was a ghost town by noon on the final day – attendees, including me, couldn’t wait to get out of there.
  7. appears to be in decline; ShopTalk is clearly on the rise, as evidenced by the move from the Aria to the Venetian for next year’s venue.


The contrast of these two conventions encapsulates the current transformation of the retail industry.  On the one hand, we have the National Retail Federation (NRF) running, representing old retail models struggling to adapt.  On the other hand, we have ShopTalk, Inc, representing new thinking and true innovation.  As for RevTech, our small marketing budget will be allocated to ShopTalk in 2018.