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Shop! MarketPlace Sessions

Main Stage Keynotes

Ron Thurston

Co-Founder of OSSY; Author, “RETAIL PRIDE”

Main Stage Session - Opening Keynote: 16 Months, 31 States, Hundreds of Retail Success Stories

April 10, 2024, 9:00 a.m. - 10:00 a.m.

As the author of the bestselling book “RETAIL PRIDE,” Ron Thurston has more than three decades of experience under his belt, working at the helm of retail stores and operations for the likes of West Elm, Tory Burch, Apple, Bonobos, Gap, and Saint Laurent. Ron is also the co-founder of OSSY, a retail recruiting agency platform designed to streamline the connection between talented candidates and forward-thinking retailers. During this opening keynote session, Ron will share highlights from his 2022/2023 “Retail in America Tour,” lessons from leaving New York and living in an Airstream. More session details to come.

Samar Younes

Chief Imagination Officer, Founder, Samaritual

Main Stage Session - Crafting Futures: Generative AI’s Role in Designing Tomorrow’s Brand Experiences

April 10, 2024, 11:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.

Take a peek into the future where Generative AI (GenAI) is transforming the landscape of brand storytelling. Through its ability to strategize experience design, offer unprecedented opportunities for businesses to evolve (with creativity at the core), empower artisans, designers and strategists, GenAI allows for co-creation between creatives and intelligent machines. In this session, discover how Artificial Intelligence (AI) can redefine the narrative of experiences. Learn how the use of AI can make retail experiences more sustainable, inclusive and – above all else – imaginative.


  • Discover how GenAI or AI can become a part of your designer toolkit
  • Understand the ability to co-create experiences using AI
  • Learn how your retail experience can be shaped using AI techniques

Tara Haase Hieminga

Global Shopper Experience Lead, Mondelēz International—Global Sales CoE

Lynn Neal

Global Practice Officer, RAZR/SellCheck

Main Stage Session - The Formula for Creative Effectiveness: How Behavioral Science Drives Sales

April 10, 2024, 1:00 p.m. - 2:00 p.m.

In recent years, marketing organizations have been asked to create more with less, and Mondelez is no exception. How can companies be expected to accomplish this? New research from the international brand shows how below the line creative can be optimized using behavioral science, improving the closure rate by 10 to 30 percent. In this session, attendees will discover the specific ways in which behavioral science plays a role, and how Mondelez applied and implemented this line of thinking in order to create scalable and transformative growth throughout its organization.


  • Understand how to foster creative effectiveness and how to apply it to your own experience
  • Learn the five steps to scale creative optimization through your organization
  • Discover the metrics and measurements needed to align creative effectiveness to sales performance

Rebekah Matheny

Associate Professor of Interior Design, The Ohio State University

Eric Daniel

Design Principal, Creative Director, Little

Brian Riffle

Director, Macro Space Planning and Analytics, Big Lots

Keith Podob

VP Store & Merchandise Planning, Dunham’s Sports

Main Stage Session - Mentorship and Sponsorship: What it Means for The Future of Retail

April 10, 2024, 3:00 p.m. - 4:00 p.m.

Navigating a career path through the dynamic universe of retail isn’t always easy: How can your harness your leadership skills through leveraging mentorship? In this interactive and engaging panel presentation moderated by Rebekah Matheny, attendees will learn from seasoned retail professionals from across the industry as they share the transformative impact that sponsorship and mentorship has had on their careers and organizations. Gain insight on navigating your own career trajectory and discover how to cultivate stronger leadership skills, all while utilizing mentorship opportunities to move forward.


  • See how other retailers and brands are tackling the concept of “mentorship”
  • Uncover how you can apply these same strategic approaches to your own company or organization
  • Glean insight from other retail professionals from across the industry and gain inspiration to help move you and your company forward

Robyn Novak

Executive Director of Strategy & Development, AGAR

Mandy Kluesener

Customer Marketing, Retail Media, General Mills

Mara Proctor

Executive Director of Strategy & Growth, Brand, AGAR

Dayna Lewallen

Strategy & Design Management, Smuckers

Main Stage Session - The New Social Currency: The Shelf, The Store, The Scene

April 11, 2024, 9:00 a.m. - 10:00 a.m.

In our constantly evolving industry, are you really engaging your customers in a meaningful way, and is it going beyond the store experience? In this thought-provoking panel presentation, join consumer brand strategists in a candid conversation about facing these challenges: Learn what it takes to have a truly meaningful exchange with your consumers, whether at the shelf, on the streets or beyond. This presentation will explore the forces that are changing the way consumers engage, the power of a brand experience, as well as the different strategies to elevate your brand – and impact.


  • Dayna Lewallen, Strategy & Design Management, Smuckers
  • Mara Proctor, Executive Director of Strategy & Growth, Brand, AGAR
  • Mandy Kluesener, Customer Marketing, Retail Media, General Mills
  • More panelists TBA


  • Robyn Novak, Executive Director of Strategy & Development, AGAR

Christopher Brandewie

VP, Store Planning, Design and Merchandise Implementation, The Kroger Co.

Main Stage Session - Big Box Sustainability: Bringing Concept to Reality

April 11, 2024, 11:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.

Sustainable design is a hot topic across the industry, but how can a larger, or “big box,” retailer like Kroger bring eco-friendly ideas to life? Attend this session to learn more about Kroger’s current and future approach to sustainability, from a building and remodel perspective, in addition to its social impact. From materials used in the construction process to the life cycle of fixturing and decor, this presentation will examine how the grocery retailer – as well as other similar companies – approaches the concept of sustainable design to truly bring it to life for customers. In addition to gaining a better understanding of Kroger’s “Zero Hunger Zero Waste” program, attendees will also learn about how Kroger works with its vendor partners in order to more thoughtfully examine temporary displays and endcaps in store.


  • Learn more about materiality from a construction standpoint as well as the lifespan of displays and decor
  • Gain a deeper understanding of current innovations as it relates to sustainable initiatives in “big box” design
  • Discover what similar retailers are doing in their approach to sustainable design and how to apply those learnings to your own organization

John McCauley

SVP Media, Digital Signage and Media Division, Velocity Managed Services Inc.

Bob Mitchell

Principal/Founder, Mitchell Partnership Alliances

Ezra Doty

Co-Founder/CEO, Quorum

Main Stage Session - Closing Keynote - Blending Digital and Physical: Influencing Consumer Purchases and Shopper Experiences

April 11, 2024, 1:00 p.m. - 2:00 p.m.

The use of “Retail Media Networks” is on the rise and – alongside the continued expansion of e-commerce/digital native brands into brick-and-mortar retail – many opportunities as well as challenges are presenting themselves for the modern merchant. In this engaging panel discussion, attendees will learn about the increase in importance of “first-party data,” and how utilizing this and other data can help establish a closer customer relationship online and in store. Discover how these new challenges have a direct impact on store openings, design, merchandising and even marketing.


  • Understand the importance of first-party data and how utilizing it might impact your business
  • Get a better understanding of Retail Media Networks and what opportunities they present
  • Hear from industry experts about how to overcome modern-day challenges

SmartTalk! Sessions

Chuck Luckenbill

Principal, Luckenbill Retail Solutions

SmartTalk! Session - Excite the Mind and the Hand Will Reach for the Pocketbook

April 10, 2024, 10:30 a.m. - 10:50 a.m.

Creating “retail theater” has been at the forefront of brick-and-mortar retail strategies for decades, but the key is remembering that shopping is more than a simple transaction – it needs to be an experience, and a memorable one at that. Attend this session to understand how visual merchandising and marketing can work hand-in-hand, and learn how to truly surprise and delight your shopper.


  • Understand how to connect the dots between e-commerce and “IRL” experiences
  • Discover the importance of relying on your instincts when it comes to reaching your consumers
  • See examples of how marketing and visual merchandising can work hand-in-hand

Declan McCormack

Client Leader, BHDP

Vikas Srivastava

VP, Design Lead, Fifth Third Bank

SmartTalk! Session - Fifth Third: Reaching New Heights in Banking

April 10, 2024, 12:00 p.m. - 12:20 p.m.

With a meticulous attention to detail and a commitment to ongoing evolution, Fifth Third’s latest reimagined branch at Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky Intl. Airport’s (CVG) Terminal B is unlike most bank experiences. Attendees will hear from Fifth Third’s VP Design Lead Vikas Srivastava and BHDP’s Client Leader Declan McCormack about this new dynamic concept that features an innovative, hands-on customer journey. Discover how the power of design can transform traditional spaces and leave a lasting, memorable impact.


  • Discover the power of transforming traditional environments into dynamic, engaging spaces
  • Learn the importance of cohesive branding
  • See why creating memorable customer experiences is paramount in any design

Lyn Falk

Founder and President, Retailworks Inc.

SmartTalk! Session - Lighting: Are You Doing It Right?

April 10, 2024, 12:30 p.m. - 12:50 p.m.

There is power in a properly illuminated selling environment, and many independent retail environments are improperly lit, making sales suffer. In this session, learn how to effectively use natural, ambient, accent and decorative illumination in your selling environment to create an atmosphere that consumers want to shop in, showcase your key product lines and reflect the best of your store’s design and business brand.


  • Understand the types of light to work with in a retail environment
  • Learn how to properly showcase your brand through lighting
  • Uncover the importance of creating an atmosphere at retail

Bryan Meszaros

Founder and CEO, OpenEye Global

SmartTalk! Session - Embracing Digital Signage, Enhancing Customer Experience

April 10, 2024, 2:00 p.m. - 2:20 p.m.

Discover how forward-thinking approaches to retail fixtures and digital signage can elevate your brand and captivate consumers in a rapidly evolving market. Attend this session to explore the latest trends, design concepts and technological advancements redefining the retail landscape when it comes to signage and creating a true experience.


  • See the latest examples of trends in digital signage and in-store communication
  • See why effective signage is crucial for any evolving brand
  • Learn how to properly incorporate digital signage to support the store experience

Jody Wasbro

SVP, Strategy and Experience Design, WD Partners

SmartTalk! Session - Market Realities vs Glass Tower Ideals: Is Your Brand Experience Living Up to Expectations?

April 10, 2024, 2:30 p.m. - 2:50 p.m.

As consumer expectations are constantly evolving, it’s important to stay close to how those changes affect retail experience needs, and to evolve to support shoppers. In this session, learn about the high and lows of designing and fielding actionable assessments on a global scale, how assessments can lead to experience design opportunities and the partnership-building opportunities between manufacturer brands and retailers.


  • Understand how shopper expectations are defined and influenced
  • Learn to identify opportunities and inspiration to differentiate brands
  • Discover how co-creation opportunities lead to valued partnerships

Rebekah Matheny

Associate Professor of Interior Design, The Ohio State University

SmartTalk! Session - Designing a Sustainable Retail Culture

April 10, 2024, 4:00 p.m. - 4:20 p.m.

As fashion designers seek to create a sustainable future through slow fashion philosophies, including product longevity and the circular economy, the retail store has an important role to play in the education of consumers through the services offered and communication of these principles. Attend this session to discover a new approach for translating slow fashion’s methodology into a slow retail design process.


  • Discover how “slow fashion” principles and inform sustainable retail design
  • Understand why retailers should educate consumers on sustainable consumption
  • See examples of how sustainability at retail is evolving

Samar Younes

Chief Imagination Officer, Founder, Samaritual

SmartTalk! Session - AI-Infused Craftsmanship: Bridging Tradition and Tech

April 11, 2024, 10:00 a.m. - 10:20 a.m.

In this concise discussion, we’ll examine how to balance traditional craftsmanship with Generative AI (GenAI). In this session, discover how a partnership between creatives and AI can lead to incredible, innovative – and sustainable – designs that resonate with modern consumers’ values. At the intersection of machine and hand intelligence, discover how AI can work for you when it comes to design.


  • Discover the balance that can exist between traditional craftsmanship and AI
  • See how AI can be used to support sustainable, innovative design approaches
  • Get inspired by the idea of AI being a part of your toolkit

Joe Baer

Creative Director and CEO, ZenGenius Inc.

SmartTalk! Session - Creative Wellness Strategy

April 11, 2024, 10:30 a.m. - 10:50 a.m.

How can engaging, creative opportunities make a difference? Attend this session to learn how engagement can be layered into retail, health and hospitality environments in order to promote a stronger sense of community and overall well-being for your employees and customers alike.


  • Rethink strategies of how you can take care of your creative mind
  • Learn how you can help strengthen your customers’ wellness and well-being through thoughtful, engaging design
  • Discover how individual creativity is connected to our overall community

Lisa Wynne


SmartTalk! Session - Overcoming Limitations on Sustainability in Consumer Environments

April 11, 2024, 12:00 p.m. - 12:20 p.m.

Consumer environments are usually “high-turnover” spaces meaning materials have to not only hold up structurally, but the designs have to stay trendy. Traditional concepts often result in significant landfill contributions and directly conflict with sustainability strategies. In this session, attendees will delve into the concept of 100-percent product circularity. Understand how a balance can be achieved through flexible design, alternative materials, emerging technologies and cultural perception changes.


  • Understand how retailers and designers can take steps to drive cultural perceptions when it comes to sustainability
  • Consider the balance between using alternative materials, technology and flexible design approaches
  • See why traditional methods need to be reconsidered when it comes to design

Noah Sange

Senior Vice President eCommerce, ECU Worldwide

SmartTalk! Session - Moving Cargo in 2024: The International Freight Market Update

April 11, 2024, 12:30 p.m. - 12:50 p.m.

Ocean freight in 2024 is already off to a volatile start: From the Panama Canal water levels to East Coast ILA labor negotiations to the Red Sea crisis to the recent collision of a container ship with the Francis Scott Key bridge in Baltimore, challenges are a plenty for shippers and consignees alike. In this session, discover how to become more agile in your sourcing strategies. Learn how communication, technology and visibility all play important roles.


  • Learn about the recent challenges for shipping and moving cargo in 2024
  • Discover new sourcing strategies and techniques
  • Understand how to utilize different approaches to curb shipping pain points