A Power-Packed Content Agenda Makes retailX the Must-Attend Event of the Summer

In just a few short weeks, retailX will pack a wealth of data, insights and practical advice into two days of keynotes, educational sessions and in-person networking opportunities, as well as a vibrant exhibit floor. At Chicago’s McCormick Place, Aug. 24-25, 2021, 54 sessions across seven tracks featuring more than 90 speakers will dig into retail’s hottest trends, including:

  • Incorporating sustainability and values-driven retailing into business plans;
  • Harnessing the growing power of social commerce;
  • Navigating the ins and outs of marketplace selling;
  • Turning diversity and inclusion from buzzwords into real-world actions;
  • Maximizing the fast-growing livestreaming channel; and
  • Reimagining the store’s role, from BOPIS and curbside to the supply chain and experiential retail innovations.

In addition to retail executives from companies including Lowe’s, Vera Bradley, Rite Aid, Target, David’s Bridal, Crate & Barrel, Ulta Beauty and Madison Reed, speakers will include a diverse group of retail industry experts:

  • Scott Benedict, Texas A&M University
  • Greg Buzek, IHL Group
  • Brad Eckhart, Columbus Consulting
  • Suketu Gandhi, Kearney
  • Dr. Bill Hardgrave, Auburn University
  • Tyler Higgins, AArete
  • Kasey Lobaugh, Deloitte
  • Mike Simoncic, Alvarez & Marsal
  • Katie Thomas, Kearney
  • Deborah Weinswig, Coresight Research

Focus on BIPOC and Female Execs and Innovators

Several sessions will delve into how retailers can turn ever-louder calls for increasing female and minority participation into real-world change. A panel of women supply chain executives from Shoe Carnival, Nestle Nutrition and Hubble Contacts, moderated by Melissa Campanelli of the Women in Retail Leadership Circle, will reveal their secrets for success. The How Retail Organizations Can Boost the Bottom Line While Helping Minority Businesses Succeed session will feature Founder Stephen Wicks as well as Jomaree Pinkard of Hella Cocktail and Maranda Walker Dowell of Joe’s Gourmet.

Opening the Retail Landscape: Action for Inclusion and Innovation will feature Target’s Director of Multicultural Merchandising Melanie Gatewood along with Jasmin Foster, Founder of Be Rooted.


retailX also will go Inside the Mind of the Values-Driven Consumer in a session featuring Danny Alexander, Co-founder of Who Gives A Crap, and Lindsay McCormick, CEO of Bite. Additionally, the goodRETAIL: How Vera Bradley Leaned into Socially Responsible Retail session will provide a case study showing the benefits of aligning the store experience with increasingly values-driven consumers.

Rethinking the Brick-and-Mortar Store

Rite Aid Chief Retail Officer Andrew Persaud will discuss how the retailer’s reimagining of the traditional store experience has created closer connections with its customers. In another session, Melissa Gonzalez will reveal why pop-ups represent the newest trend in agile store formats. Two members of the design:retail 40 Under 40 class of 2021, Macy’s Prabhjot Singh and Under Armour’s Christiana DiMattesa, will participate in the Retail Rockstars Setting the Future of In-Store Experience session.

Additionally, retailX isn’t shying away from tough subjects, with sessions like Addressing the Shopping Center Identity Crisis.

Alternative Fulfillment Models: Dark Stores, Ghost Kitchens, Drive-thrus and More will be one of several sessions examining how retailers can use pandemic-inspired pivots to improve their business for the long term. Additionally, Liza Amlani of Retail Strategy Group and Melissa Minkow of CI&T will reveal how retailers can turn last year’s must-have functionality, curbside pickup, from a necessity into a competitive differentiator. And Andrew Lande-Shannon, Senior Director of Store Experience at Madison Reed, will share how contactless experiences have strengthened the retailer’s omnichannel business.

Practical advice for managing the growth of direct-to-consumer (DTC) and participation in marketplaces will be covered in several sessions, including Building a DTC Brand for Today’s Modern Retail Environment and Building a Made-to-Measure Online Retail Marketplace.

Hot Takes on Livestreaming, Influencer Marketing and Social Commerce

Aisling Organics’ CEO Krysta Lewis will present a session titled Speaking Gen Z’s Language: Using TikTok to Grow Your Brand, one of several focused on tools retailers can use to engage with younger consumers. Executives from Bayer, Linqia and NYCfitfam will provide an Influencer Marketing Reset, while Glam2Greatness, Cartograph, Hydrant and ProductWind leaders will reveal How to Use Influencers to Actually Drive Ecommerce Sales.

Coresight Research CEO Deborah Weinswig will make the case for Why Shoppable Live Streaming is Here to Stay, while executives from Dormeo North America and Direct Branding will discuss How to Optimize Video Merchandising with the 3 R’s: Reach, Response and Results.

These are just a sampling of the sessions that fill the retailX 2021 agenda. We hope to see you there!

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