In-person events may still be far off, but a program of virtual “Retail Meetups”—debuted last month as an offshoot of the pandemic-altered Shoptalk trade conference—will be permanently added to the annual agendas of the influential Groceryshop and Shoptalk trade events beginning next year with a virtual grocery conference in March, organizers said.
The online events bring large groups together for curated, double opt-in meetings and peer group discussions that complement separately scheduled live trade shows. Organizers say they are “proven and productive ways to connect with both new and familiar faces, in a fun, friendly and open environment.” Founded five years ago as a trade show focusing on the convergence of technology and retail, Shoptalk quickly became a popular industry event and spun off a sister conference called Groceryshop focused exclusively on how technology and changing consumer behavior is altering the food retail and CPG industries.
Retail Meetups use proprietary technology that organizers say empowers participants with three months worth of meetings in just three half-days. Participants may request meetings with groups or individuals and opt in to meetings requested of them. The virtual events are then scheduled as a program.
“The inaugural Retail Meetup we held last month was such a tremendous success, we’ve added a permanent series of Retail Meetups to complement our Shoptalk and Groceryshop in-person events,” said Anil Aggarwal, founder of Shoptalk and Groceryshop. “We’re now omnichannel—just like retail—so organizations and individuals throughout the retail, grocery and CPG industries can utilize both our online and offline events to meet with their customers, partners, prospects, colleagues and friends throughout the year, every year.”
The virtual events include a Groceryshop Retail Meetup scheduled for March 9-11, a Shoptalk for Women meetup May 11-13, and a Shoptalk fall meetup Oct. 19-21.
The next live Groceryshop event is scheduled Sept. 19-22 in Las Vegas. Its originally scheduled 2020 event was postponed to make room for a pandemic-canceled March Shoptalk event. The rescheduled September Shoptalk event was subsequently canceled for the same reason.
Organizers hailed the first Shoptalk Retail Meetup, held in October, as the retail industry’s first digitally native event, rather than just a stopgap measure due to the pandemic. More than 2,000 participants from over 1,000 companies joined and completed more than 20,000 meetings over an aggregate of 6,200 hours, making it retail's largest meetings program ever. At peak, more than 1,100 individuals were engaged in concurrent meetings. When asked if they were satisfied with their meetings, 91% of participants responded “yes.” Almost half of all participants joined Tabletalks small group peer conversations across a broad range of 14 timely topics, creating the retail industry's largest peer collaboration program.
“The pandemic accelerated e-commerce penetration by 3-5 years, with the most seismic changes happening in grocery,” said Caroline Farley, chief growth officer of Shoptalk and Groceryshop. “From consumer behavior to the supply chain, every aspect of grocery and CPG is undergoing massive transformation, creating a new level of urgency to embrace innovative technologies and business models. We’re excited to bring together a community of changemakers at Groceryshop Spring Meetup in March to learn and collaborate online at this critical moment.”
Shoptalk and Groceryshop were acquired by the London events company Hyve Group last year.