Shoptalk’s Retail Framework for COVID-19, Virtual Conference & New Slack Workspace Coming Thursday

May 11, 2020 by Zia Daniell Wigder

A New Approach to Virtual Events 

Just over a week ago, we decided to postpone the Shoptalk Virtual Conference which was scheduled to take place on April 30. We were in the midst of learning how to produce engaging and informative content delivered over video, and felt we were not at the point of having a product that met the needs of the industry at this critical juncture. We realized that creating a compelling online event--and truly starting an industry-wide dialogue around the changes brought about by COVID-19--would require in-depth, analytical content created exclusively for this unique time and virtual environment we’re all living in.

We’ve therefore taken a completely different approach and decided to launch our new Shoptalk Virtual Conference series with our own Shoptalk original content to start the conversation. This Thursday, May 14, we will hold the first session in our brand-new Shoptalk Virtual Conference series from 1:00-2:00pm EDT (register here)

During that time, the Shoptalk team will introduce a brand new framework for understanding how COVID-19 will affect the retail industry. The Shoptalk Retail Framework for COVID-19 will provide a comprehensive view of how retail is set to evolve over the next 12-36 months, including the challenges and decisions facing the industry. The framework will be regularly updated based on changing data points as well as feedback and insights from the community. 

We will also be launching a new Slack workspace in tandem with the framework that facilitates industry collaboration and crowdsourcing to update the document, ensuring the framework remains timely and relevant. A few details on the two new products below.

Shoptalk Retail Framework for COVID-19

The framework we’ll be launching on Thursday includes a timeline of 30+ areas that are set to change as a result of COVID-19 and looks at shifts in consumer behavior, operational changes, category implications and more. We look at how these 30+ areas will evolve as we go through four phases: 

  • COVID-19 curveball/chaos (March/April 2020): In early March 2020, a growing number of individual states declared States of Emergency. Business slowed as many brands and retailers preemptively opted to close their stores, and consumers became leery of leaving their homes. President Trump declared a national State of Emergency on March 13, and widespread consumer panic set in. Mandates to close all nonessential stores meant physical store shopping effectively ceased for all but essential retailers.
  • COVID-19 crossroads (May/June 2020): May 2020 marked a small inflection point for many retailers, as increasing numbers of states relaxed restrictions on nonessential businesses. Stores began to reopen at a measured rate where legally permitted, but with heavy restrictions and safety protocols in place. Still, many questions remain heading into June, including whether newly opened stores and states will once again be forced to close with COVID-19 cases still rising.
  • Rapid reengineering (Q3 2020 - Q1 2021): From late 2020 into the beginning of 2021, the retail industry (along with broad swaths of government, society and the economy) will engage in a comprehensive reengineering process, deploying systems and technologies to improve agility and resiliency. At the same time, several quarters of uncertainty will endure. America's COVID-19 response will be the pivotal issue in the US Presidential election.
  • Upturn: digital, accelerated (Q2 2020 and beyond): Starting in mid-2021, the COVID-19 crisis will begin to abate. The new world will not be the same as it was back in early 2020. However, retailers and brands that survive to enter this phase will start to see opportunities increase as economic growth slowly returns.

For the retail industry, the Shoptalk Retail Framework will serve as a critical resource as those across the industry seek to understand and plan for different phases of COVID-19. The pandemic has brought about change in every aspect of our lives and how we do business: this new offering provides the industry with a holistic framework to think through these changes and to envision a future in which everything from consumer behavior, store and ecommerce operations, technology innovation and the workplace remain fundamentally altered, even as we emerge from the pandemic. 

We believe it is essential for all players in retail to be assessing the impact of the pandemic from every angle outlined in the framework. It’s tempting for businesses to look at the changes through a narrow lens, but to prepare adequately for a rapidly evolving future, it is critical to take a comprehensive view of the changes happening around us. The framework will be continually updated by the Shoptalk team based on new data as it emerges. 

New Slack Workspace

Additionally, we will be inviting the entire Shoptalk community to contribute to updating the framework. On Thursday, we will launch a new Shoptalk Slack workspace dedicated to discussion of the changes included in the framework. We invite the entire community to suggest new areas to include and provide alternative scenarios to the ones we proposed. 

To enable the dialogue, on Thursday we will publish the first iteration of the framework as a Google spreadsheet. Using the Shoptalk Slack workspace, anyone will be able to comment, add their ideas and work together to make the framework an even more robust planning tool for the industry. The Shoptalk team will constantly monitor input and update the framework document with suggestions.

To join our event for free on Thursday, May 14, register here. And stay tuned for a full schedule of upcoming Shoptalk Virtual Conferences which will be announced at the event on Thursday. We hope to see you there!