Shoptalk 2017 Day 2 Highlights - from disruptive to AI in ecommerce

March 21, 2017 by Paul Byrne

Business Environment eCommerce Technology

My second day at Shoptalk 2017 turned out to be useful. I would note that the content for small and medium sized businesses is limited as most of the content is aimed at Enterprise level organizations.

If the word of the day yesterday was ‘disruptive,’ the word of the day today was ‘AI.’

Google Home

Admittedly not ready for prime time, Google’s shopping experience on Google Home was interesting. The main differentiator is that Google Home seeks to provide results of product availability near you (if you want) or online (though, don’t expect results from Amazon).

Based on the demo, I would say that the device is a little shaky and the search results were less than impressive. Nonetheless, I would say retailers (online or off) need to take the Google Home device into account given the size of the effort behind it and the need Google has to bust Amazon’s hold on the voice interface device market.


Wish is more pure intelligence than artificial intelligence. This app which is quickly challenging Amazon and Ebay on a number of fronts and which is winning the user acquisition war is based on the premise that Amazon have left a dual failure in ecommerce: 1) Product and 2) Demographic.

In short, some people value price over convenience and want cheap off-brand merchandise that isn’t necessarily shipped in 2 days. I.e., hard to imagine for VCs and executives that live in their $100K+/yr household income bubble. The average American household makes less than 1/2 that and the rest of the world even less. Yet these consumers, whose only device connected to the internet is a smart phone, like shopping online, too, they just cannot afford Amazon’s prices and the 5% to 7% you pay for the premium experience.

I would be on Wish if I were you and plan to compete with them!

Harry’s Razors

Great presentation by the founders should give hope to the dreams of  small merchants everywhere. Plenty of product categories are ripe for disruption. They and the $1 Shave Club ate Gillette’s lunch and will continue to if they keep it up (though $1 shave is now a division of Unilever).

AI and Mind Meld

Mind meld gave a frank assessment of AI and made 3 points worth repeating here:

  1. Good AI requires LOADS of clean data. If you want to play in this space, you need to have the funds to produce and sanitize a ton of data. So… probably won’t see many breakthroughs coming from garage tinkerers as opposed to previous technology breakthroughs.
  2. AI works well in limited scopes and consumers have come to expect that. It will get better, but, that will take time.
  3. If you want to be a player in this technology, you have to invest NOW in creating the data. If you wait 3 years, the data gap between you and your competitors will be insurmountable.

I’m convinced, however, that there will be ways to take services created by the giants and scale for SMBs…. more to come on this.

Note: IBM is offer free passes to its Amplify show for holders of passes to Shoptalk. Given the agenda for tomorrow, my last report will probably be about that conference as I’ve found a number of very interesting sessions to attend there!

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