Beyond the Expected: 5 Key Takeaways from CommerceNext 2024

Blog - 5 Key Takeaways from CommerceNext 2024

I attended the CommerceNext Growth Show 2024 in New York City as part of the fabric contingent. It was a great event, as always, with over 150 speakers from retailers like Coach, Fanatics, J.Crew, Patagonia, Sephora, SHEIN, Uniqlo and more. 

I always like to recap events and figured my takeaways would be helpful to you, too. Here are my top 5 highlights, with the last one being more personal in nature. But, impressions are impressions! 

Thank you to Veronika Sonsev and Allan Dick, two of the three CommerceNext co-founders, for putting on a great show. It’s always great to connect with you two, and I am not surprised at this event’s quality given the wonderfully successful webinar we did with CommerceNext in March. They were also gracious enough to give my wife a pass to see me speak professionally for the first time, which was personally rewarding.

OK, here we go with my top 5 highlights from CommerceNext:


#1 – Culture wins, every time

I hosted a CommerceNext panel discussion on loyalty strategies with two great retail executives Katie Pursino, Vice President, Ecommerce + Site at J.Crew, and Angel Singh, Angel Singh, VP Customer Experience at Petco. It was by far the highlight of my week. 


CommerceNext 2024 Panelists - Jay Topper, Katie Pursino, Angel Singh

Having been on the stage a lot in my career (never before as a partner, and never before as a moderator) I wasn’t sure what to expect. But our conversation around culture and data being foundational pillars for outcome-based digital transformations resonated with the packed audience. Both of these professionals were dynamic, humble, and offered super great perspectives. I really enjoyed myself, and we even picked up a few viable leads.

#2 – Better together

We co-hosted two events with fabric partners — a dinner with Bounteous  x Accolite and a cocktail party with Red Van Workshop. Both of these were super cool experiences. 

As the newly minted Chief Customer Officer at fabric, who is also responsible for our partnerships, I found this especially rewarding. To have the ability to speak with potential (and existing) customers live with two of your key partners allows an opportunity to establish simpatico between the three, which is one of THE KEYS to a successful project or program. The weather on both days was beautiful, too, and the company was outstanding!


#3 – It’s the people

The CommerceNext conference itself was great. What tops the list for me was the mix of retailers, partners, and a small assorted variety of consultants and investors. 

Sometimes, these conferences are overloaded with partners that chase retailers around like a carny. I know because I’ve attended dozens as a retailer. But the mix here was perfect. I spent a good deal of time with retailers, not just as potential customers (yes!) but also simply understanding new businesses and challenges. I am infinitely curious, so learning new businesses, even with companies we may never do business with, is fascinating. 

I also ran into a dear friend, the current CEO of ESW (the world’s leading DTC ecommerce company), and that has stimulated yet another partnership opportunity. 

Lastly, the keynotes I attended were realistic and meaningful. I especially enjoyed the initial keynote featuring Doug Mack, former CEO of Fanatics, who attributed, amongst other things, culture as a key driver for success. Not everything is AI!


#4 – Modular apps are the way

The market for complete replatforms is trending down. I attribute this to three main reasons:  

  • People are generally a little nervous — the economy, inventory positions for Q4, interest rates, and the election all contribute to this uneasiness. 
  • It’s a jungle out there. As our CEO articulates, we are at a tipping point around modernization, and the number of players claiming AI-based engines, composable & headless platforms, product catalogs, dropshipping, and awesome technology is overwhelming. 
  • There seems to be a general “fix and maintain what we have” mentality. I feel like that is partially stimulated by the media, like everything else.  

However, all that said, I was positively surprised by the interest in incremental approaches, especially around our omnichannel Order Management System, Product Catalog, and Dropship products. These conversations dominated my week. As an OMS nerd, who serves a product that is flat-out awesome (great tech, great user experiences, improved outcomes!), it made for some conversations that hopefully will continue throughout 2024. Certainly, many positive signs indicate modular apps anchored by a modern platform, with potential paths for eventual lifts and shifts, are the new trend.


#5 – Your past shapes your future

Lastly, and this is 100% personal, I was able to visit Governors Island off the southern tip of Manhattan. It mainly was under military control from 1983 to 1996, and I was part of the team that turned it over in 1996. I was also one of the last residents there (my kids went to PS26 on the island). 

Governors Island

This opportunity to reminisce made the entire trip worthwhile. It was my last job in the US Coast Guard before entering the commercial world, and as a veteran of the two branches that owned the island (Army & USCG), I am forever an alumni!


More to come from CommerceNext and fabric

CommerceNext was a fantastic experience! I’ll have the opportunity to participate in another webinar with CommerceNext and Forrester on Wednesday, July 17th at 11 am PT, “Exclusive Insights: Revealing Retailers’ Strategies for Holiday 2024 Q4 Success” and I can’t wait. Hope to see you there!

Topics: Commerce
Jay Topper

Chief Customer Officer @ fabric

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