Why Shop.org matters

          Laura Heller

Retail has changed quite a bit in the past two decades as focus has shifted from merchandising to digital marketing, social media and big data. And while the Internet has changed the way retailers do just about everything, one thing remains constant: the trade show.

Trade shows provide invaluable opportunities to get out from behind our screens and make connections in more personal ways. The networking, meetings and accidental interactions have the power to stay with us long after we've returned to our offices.

I once was offered a job following a chance encounter at a trade show, and that contact remains influential in my life and career today, 15 years later. It can be difficult to keep track of people—we change jobs so quickly these days—but catching sight of a familiar face on the expo floor or outside of a conference session can bring things back into focus.

There are few areas of retail where the in-person connection is more important than in digital retail. One of the great ironies of the Internet age, however, is that working online both isolates and unites us. Those working on websites, mobile applications and digital marketing strategies may spend more time online than off, so it becomes even more critical to take advantage of events such as Shop.org.

Take advantage of the many conference sessions, keynotes and roundtable discussions. Shop.org attendees may work in a digital medium, but retail is a very personal thing.

Get off Twitter and talk to the person next to you about whether or not in-feed purchasing will benefit your business. Put down the smartphone to find out how to create a better mobile experience for your customers from the person in front of you. And please, forgo answering emails for a few hours in the evening to socialize in person at at least one of the many daily events, including FierceRetail's party at the Space Needle on Tuesday evening.

We'll see you at the show. -Laura