Sucharita Mulpuru

The retail and e-commerce event ShopTalk named former Saks Fifth Avenue and Forrester executive Sucharita Mulpuru as chief retail strategist.

Under her supervision, ShopTalk will launch its ShopTalk Networking Initiative in order to furnish new connections within the retail landscape. “Attendees at ShopTalk look to meet other players in the ecosystem, whether it be retailers meeting other large retailers, retailers meeting start-ups or even companies looking for technology solutions,” said Mulpuru. The on-site venture will introduce industry leaders to discover growth opportunities and tackle business challenges as well.

At Forrester, Mulpuru served as vice president and principal analyst of e-business and channel strategy. Her expertise was in the area of e-commerce and consumer behavior. At Saks, she worked as a director of marketing, managing customer acquisition and conducting market research for the retailer’s online unit.

Mulpuru said her new role “will drive different programs at the show and different dyads of connections. I look at ShopTalk as having a number of unique attendee groups.” Mulpuru will be responsible for delivering personalized insights relevant to various types of attendees.

“There’s a level of thoughtfulness in knowing what their [company] issues are, knowing what they [attendees] would want to get out of the show, and we have the ability to help answer questions or help be a business partner for them,” she said, adding that the initiative is designed to broker interactions for the companies in attendance. Retailers and branded manufacturers, for example, will meet tech start-ups to assist in discerning solutions for mainstream development. There will also be networking facilitation for peer groups, and for venture capital firms to meet with start-ups.

The meetings will be held in a variety of settings from dinners to exhibit hall tours. “There might be peer gatherings for people within different levels of an organization,” Mulpuru explained. “Alternatively, the gatherings might collate people who functionally have similar roles like marketers, or technologists, or supply chain leaders to discuss topics that are pertinent to them.”

Mulpuru brings with her a host of professional relationships from prior positions at Forrester and Saks. She will also contribute to ShopTalk’s overall strategy and agenda development in line with experience. “When you have the insight in knowing people (and what their goals and challenges are), it’s interesting to make a suggestion such as: ‘Here are five people that can help you think through an issue because they have an interesting perspective or business solution considering the specific need,’” Mulpuru said.

“The goal is to make it a series of meaningful interactions and to curate and provoke conversations in order to make sure useful conversations happen throughout the course of the show,” Mulpuru said.

Mulpuru also plans to help uncover commonalties among attendees. She said, “Some of [the analysis] will build from what we gathered from last year’s show. Some of [the approach will include] information that we collect from interactions we’ll have with attendees over the next few months. Some [data] will be from what they share with us during the registration process. Some of it will come from inferences of what we think the issues are for particular companies, and what we think the issues are for a particular role within that company. It will be a combination of different sources as well as where we can have conversation and get insight.”

Mulpuru described ShopTalk as “a powerful brand that transcended events,” likening it to a community. “It’s something that quickly built a lot of equity with a lot of interesting and influential players in retail,” Mulpuru said. “A large part of the reason that people go to events is to meet other peers and to have conversations with other people who could be helpful to them professionally. Those conversations [occur] by happenstance, and there’s opportunity to help orchestrate and create even more value than by just having great content. That’s really what’s an interesting opportunity here.”

ShopTalk hosts attendees ranging from retail industry leaders to media analysts to investors for its annual event presenting innovative exhibitions to explore developments in the e-commerce and online retailing space.