Top 5 Moments from #RICE24 - Retail Innovation Conference & Expo

Top 5 Moments from #RICE24

We loved welcoming thousands of our retail industry friends to Chicago for the Retail Innovation Conference & Expo earlier this month. Over three days, we got to forge new connections, spark new ideas and create new opportunities across our community, including speakers, sponsors, attendees and more! Although our time in the Windy City was brimming with incredible moments, these are the five that especially stood out:

5. Store Tours Show Innovation (and Inspiration) in Action

We loved seeing the live updates from folks on LinkedIn about their experience on the Store Tours around Chicago. Our friends at Insider Trends do a miraculous job of curating these tours, ensuring they’re designed to inspire and provoke some thought (and great conversation) among attendees. Plus, our hosts Jack Stratten and Ian Scott know the space so well and, as a result, always provide thoughtful commentary around the key trends and takeaways. Store Tour attendees saw some incredible spaces, including RH Chicago, American Girl, Trader Joe’s, the Starbucks Roastery, and so many more!

If you want some deep-dive coverage from the tours, check out this article from our friends at Retail TouchPoints.

Our incredible Store Tours hosts, Jack Stratten and Ian Scott!

4. Workshops and Meet-Ups Create New Opportunities

The collaborative workshops were the star of our programming on June 4. These 75-minute sessions were designed for folks who, well, wanted to get nerdy on a specific topic. For some, that was in-store retail media. For others, it was marketing attribution. And for another group, building an innovation culture was top-of-mind. The topics were vastly different but all rooms were filled with highly engaged and passionate attendees, eager to roll up their sleeves, talk shop and get to know each other!

We loved seeing shots inside the rooms of Andrew Smith, Angela Gearhart and others. But we especially got the warm and fuzzies seeing the great turnout for our incredible partners at Women in Retail Tech. They did an inspirational workshop on how to advocate for yourself and others, and they hosted a super-fun after-hours meet-up at the Vue rooftop bar later that night.

Collage courtesy of Women in Retail Tech

3. Dr. Marcus Collins Rallied Attendees Around Culture

Our partner Sandy Hernandez said it best. The secret sauce to McDonald’s isn’t the fries or Ronald McDonald…it’s culture. Our keynote speaker Dr. Marcus Collins explained what makes this brand such a profound model for retailers during his session, which is derived from his book For the Culture. We were so excited to have Dr. Collins on our stage, sharing his insights and experiences because we knew he would be equal parts educational, inspirational and energy-driving. And boy, did he deliver!

We loved seeing the engagement from the audience and the excitement coming into the Expo Hall after his session. Dr. Collins was kind enough to stick around for some time, signing copies of his book for our incredible attendees. (And chat with everyone in the loooong line across the expo area.) Although his time on stage with us is over, his wisdom and passion will stay with us for years to come…If you missed out, you can check out the full recap on Retail TouchPoints here.

Dr. Marcus Collins shared how culture shapes what we buy, why we buy and who we want to be.

2. Rebecca Minkoff Opened the Playbook for Stellar Brand Building

When we try to think of figures that defined modern fashion business, Rebecca Minkoff is one of the first executives that come to mind. That’s why it was so incredible to get such detailed insights into how she built her brand, how she thinks about tech innovation and, most importantly, why she decided to turn her business into a media empire. Not to mention, she got really transparent about how she was thinking about the future of the Rebecca Minkoff organization, especially since she has sold it and is still playing such a central role in its creative direction. Could she step a way, would she step away? What were the hardest lessons learned in her journey? You can get the full details from the fireside chat here.

Rebecca Minkoff got real with journalist Daniela Pierre-Bravo about what drives her business and creativity today.

1. C-level Leaders Shared Got Vulnerable About Life in Retail

There’s nothing better than getting equally passionate people in a room to talk about work, life and what inspires them. But let’s be real, sometimes, in an educational environment, people are more eager to focus on their successes and what has worked than what hasn’t worked.

But there was something about the vibe and energy at the event that inspired speakers and attendees alike to break down their walls and really get real about retail, including their roles, challenges, goals, successes and, yes, even their failures. Our C-Suite Corner session focused on what is keeping leaders up at night sparked a candid conversation about the financial and operational challenges present in the current retail climate. And Melissa Minkow of CI&T’s conversation with Monica + Andy’s Monica Royer was passionate and vulnerable, with Monica opening her heart and mind with attendees. (If you want to read more about how authenticity and vulnerability were center-stage at the event, check out this deep-dive article.)

The conference team’s goal is to not only spot light great brands and great minds. We also want to spotlight great humans that are working tirelessly to bring their businesses, and the entire industry, forward. And we are so thankful to our speaking faculty for bringing that incredible energy to the show this year!

Retail Panel Session
Our panel of executive leaders revealed what’s top-of-mind for them.

Well, those are our top five moments from #RICE24! Stay tuned for details soon on what’s next from the team for 2025 and beyond!

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