Converge @ Walmart 2022: Key takeaways from the biggest retail tech event
The excitement was palpable on Sept. 16, 2022 at the Grand Ballroom of JW Marriott. About 400 people attended in-person and over 8,000 joined virtually to hear 60 global speakers at Converge @ Walmart 2022.
Here are some truly insightful takeaways from the flagship retail tech event of Walmart Global Tech, in association with, India's largest digital payments platform.
How Gen Z is shaping the future of retail
While millennials still play a key role in shaping the retail trends, Gen Z has started moving into the spotlight and will soon become the largest cohort of customers. They will be poised to both drive and embrace the most significant retail developments of tomorrow.
During a panel discussion, Sharon Pais, Chief Business Officer,, highlighted how Gen Z’s preferences are shaping retailers’ long-term strategy and key business decisions. “Self-expression and social proofing are central drivers of Gen Z choices. It’s a more visible generation that lives a lot through social media,” she said. “You have to enable the right trends and values for the shopper that allow them to express themselves.”
Echoing Sharon’s thoughts, Anuj Rathi, SVP - Revenue & Growth,said, “Gen Z is an ‘on-demand’ generation. They are big on convenience and are more loyal to trends than to brands. Delivering on a core experience underscored with trends and experiences will be key to engaging with Gen-Z.
Why AI is the new normal for eCommerce
Artificial Intelligence, paired with Machine Learning and deep learning, is key to generating insights in the retail industry. For businesses, this could lead to incredible customer experiences, opportunities to grow revenue, fast-track innovation, and smart operations—all of which help differentiate them from their competitors.
“The world is getting more ‘sensor-ised’ and a lot of the AI models are getting optimised for Edge. Edge AI is certainly a space to watch out for when it comes to eCommerce,” said Dr Rohini Srivathsa, National Technology Officer, Microsoft during her panel session.
“A lot of our growth is coming from Tier II and III cities with customers who are not digital-native. One interesting phenomenon we’re observing there is the growth of visual search,” added Mayur Datar, Chief Data Scientist,as he spoke about what the emerging use cases with AI and automation mean for eCommerce.
How Web3 will change retail experiences
We are at an inflection point, where there is tremendous opportunity for brands and marketers who are willing to engage with this emerging and promising technology. With the innate transparency, accountability and equity rooted in Web3, brands have the opportunity to change relationships and transform customers, stakeholders and markets into one community.
“If Web1 was all about data and Web2 about platforms, Web3 is going to be all about customer engagement and will take engagement to epic levels,” said Chandralika Hazarika, MD and Co-founder,.
Uday Dodla, Senior Director - Business Development, Qualcomm India put across his thoughts and added, “Web3 is the enabler of joy and ownership and ‘Blockchain’ is a tablestake technology for retailers.”
Hope to democratise access for businesses in India
Social commerce is an emerging sector in India and its growth received a massive push during the global pandemic. According to a 2021 report by Bain & Company, social commerce as a sector has the potential to grow to $16–20 billion by FY25 while also being key to boosting women’s participation in the economy and digital inclusion.
Speaking on how the social commerce landscape is helping democratise access for business and create a more level playing field for women, Pankaj Jathar, VP and Country Head - India, Etsy said, “Close to 80 percent of sellers on Etsy are women who operate from their homes. Access to technology is democratising the participation of women micropreneurs in the retail landscape today.”
Abhijit Bose, Head of India, WhatsApp spoke about India’s role in the social commerce landscape. “At the macro level, there are two foundational changes happening that’s ahead of the world here – the India stack and the proliferation of the mobile phone,” he said.
“We have a version of WhatsApp designed specifically for kirana shops that’s being used by 20 million businesses,” he added, talking about how WhatsApp is democratising access for businesses in India from the ground up.
Retail tech skills for the future
The World Economic Forum predicts that AI and automation will lead to the creation of 97 million new jobs by 2025. According to the Forum’s Future of Jobs Report, 50 percent of all employees will need to gain entirely new in-demand skills and competencies to keep up with the evolution of technology by 2025.
“A lot of lower-level jobs that can be algorithmed, will be algorithmed. Entry level jobs won’t go away, but the need for higher level skills for those jobs will not be required,” says Dulles Krishnan, MD - Enterprise, India & ANZ, Coursera talking about the skill landscape, opportunities, challenges and the retail tech skills for the future.
“Traditional industries are starting to offer microcredentials, meaning the industry is becoming the educator. The future of work will be learning, you will be what you know,” he added.
Speaking about the non-tech skills that are essential for creating an ecosystem that is built for the future, Prof Ramesh Loganathan, Co-Innovation and Outreach, IIIT Hyderabad said, “I don’t think technology is a challenge for India. The biggest gap I see is the ability to think creatively. If we don’t do that, we will lose out – we will always be the back office of the world and never be technology creative for the world,”
Access the Converge @ Walmart 2022 archives
Missed out on registering for Converge @ Walmart 2022? You could still catch the archived sessions from the event