Connect with us



DRAWING NEARLY 1000 professionals representing retailers, CPG brands, design firms, suppliers, educators and students, the Shop! Association’s second annual MarketPlace trade show and conference took place in Cincinnati at the Duke Energy Convention Center this past April 9-11, 2024.

Featuring live music, engaging experiential zones and a plethora of informative educational sessions, this year’s event also played host to the 2024 Outstanding Merchandising Achievement (OMA) Awards, Design Awards and Global Awards.

Making the Most of MarketPlace


Starting with Offsite Inspiration Retail Tours of Cincinnati, attendees were encouraged to choose one of three options to explore the city before the first full day of the trade show. Options included a guided tour of the American Sign Museum or the Contemporary Arts Center (a Zaha Hadid-designed building), or a self-guided tour along Cincinnati’s streetcar route – dubbed “The Connector” – hosted by the Ohio Chapter of the Retail Design Institute, which kicked off at NELSON Worldwide’s newly designed headquarters right down the street from the convention center.

After an afternoon of inspiration gathering, all attendees were encouraged to attend that evening’s Welcome Reception + Design Awards Celebration, highlighting the winners from the annual competition. With live music by local cover band DV8, the event saw light bites, cocktails and networking to officially mark the beginning of MarketPlace 2024.

Making the Most of MarketPlace THIS PAGE: Along with the show floor, industry experts discussed topics from sustainability and AI to mentorship and retail media networks.



The next two days featured more than 17 educational speakers, hands-on experiences and a plethora of exhibitors covering categories like flooring, mannequins, lighting, materials/wallcoverings, signage/graphics, p-o-p displays, fixtures, props and decor, and more.


  • Creative Circus Workshop
    Presented by ZenGenius Inc., this three-ring circus engaged guests in play, art – and even dance – intended to be triggers that ignited a sense of well-being.
  • AVEDA Shop! Ideation Retail Challenge Brought to Life
    The winning team from 2023’s Retail Challenge that took place during Shop! Ideation and Retail Challenge in Minneapolis this past October got to build their winning display IRL. The brand focus was Aveda with themes centered around self-care.
  • PAVE & Fred Meyer Student Design Challenge
    Students were tasked with creating a flexible merchandising system for Fred Meyer with the best student designs on display at the PAVE booth. (Congrats to all the student winners!)
  • An Artificial Intelligence Playground
    A hands-on experiential lab, this Artificial Intelligence (AI) zone featured AI enthusiasts and experts guiding attendees through case studies, projects and the discussion of how AI is impacting retail design.
  • Customer Engagement Pavilion
    This curated digital signage exhibition featured the latest products aimed at elevating engagement in retail; hosted by the Digital Signage Federation.

Making the Most of MarketPlace


Spread across a main Content Theater and Smart Talk Station 1 and Station 2, content this year centered on sustainability, AI and retail media networks, among other hot topics.

The first day saw opening keynote speaker Ron Thurston, author of “Retail Pride,” discuss his latest tour around the country and new insights he had learned since writing his bestselling book. That same day, Samar Younes, Chief Imagination Officer, Founder, Samaritual, spoke on generative AI’s role in retail. Tara Haase Hieminga, Global Shopper Experience Lead, Mondelez, and Lynne Neal, Global Practice Officer, RAZR/Sellcheck, spoke on using behavioral science to drive sales. A panel focusing on mentorship and sponsorship in the retail industry, moderated by The Ohio State University’s Rebekah Matheny, and featuring panelists Brian Riffle of Big Lots, Eric Daniel of Little and Brad Stewart of Hera Lighting, helped conclude the first full day of main stage content.


Making the Most of MarketPlace Five booths were awarded with the VMSD Outstanding Booth Award, picked by a panel of secret judges: OPTO Intl., VCI/Rose Displays, Mondo Mannequins, Innomark and Visual Citi.

Thursday, April 11, started with a panel moderated by AGAR’s Robyn Novak – and featured speakers Dayna Lewallen of Smuckers, Mandy Kluesener of General Mills and Mara Proctor of AGAR – exploring how to engage customers beyond store environments or brand activations. Later that morning, Kroger’s Christopher Brandewie examined bringing the concept of sustainability to reality and how that translates for larger or “big box” retailers. The closing keynote featured Bob Mitchell of Mitchell Partnership Alliances – with panelists John McCauley of Velocity Managed Services Inc. and Ezra Doty of Quorom – discussing the growing importance of retail media networks and their influence on shoppers.


Smart Talk sessions, 20-minute “power presentations,” took place between main stage content, featuring speakers like Chuck Luckenbill, Jody Wasbro, Bryan Meszaros and Lisa Wynne, among many others.

Making the Most of MarketPlace This page: MarketPlace celebrated the Shop! Awards, recognizing accomplishments in displays, merchandising, and store design.


The evening of April 10 featured the Outstanding Merchandising Achievement (OMA) Awards hosted in the Hilton Netherland Plaza’s Hall of Mirrors Ballroom near the Duke Energy Convention Center with live, acoustic covers played by local band Rucca. The Global Awards were presented the same evening and, afterward, PAVE Global hosted its Social event at Five Iron Golf, right across the street from the host hotel, supporting students in the field of design.

VMSD yet again awarded five booths this year for their innovative and engaging designs with its 2024 Outstanding Booth Awards. Chosen through VMSD Editorial Advisory Board members secretly walking the show floor, winners this year included Visual Citi, Innomark, OPTO Intl., VCI/Rose Displays and Mondo Mannequins.

For continuing coverage of Shop! MarketPlace, including winners’ galleries, updates on 2025 and more, stay tuned to VMSD and Shop!’s social media channels and, and

See you next year for Shop! MarketPlace 2025.





MasterClass: ‘Re-Sparkling’ Retail: Using Store Design to Build Trust, Faith and Brand Loyalty

HOW CAN WE EMPOWER and inspire senior leaders to see design as an investment for future retail growth? This session, led by retail design expert Ian Johnston from Quinine Design, explores how physical stores remain unmatched in the ability to build trust, faith, and loyalty with your customers, ultimately driving shareholder value.

Presented by:
Ian Johnston
Founder and Creative Director, Quinine Design

Promoted Headlines





Most Popular