Top 5 IRCE Takeaways for eCommerce Businesses
We just came back from IRCE 2018 where 600 e-retailers and industry leaders, including the likes of Seth Godin, lived and breathed the future of eCommerce. Here are 5 of our top takeaways from the event.
1) Machine learning in marketing is here to stay
AI-driven technology is already penetrating the retail space and is only improving day by day. From dynamic pricing (airlines have been doing it for a while with tickets, so why not retail?) to product discovery and recommendations, to chatbots and media buying – if you are in the online retail space, chances are you are already taking advantage of some form of machine learning.
2) In a data-driven world, branding and purpose are your competitive advantage
Branding in eCommerce has never been as important as it is now. With the gatekeepers of product selection effectively erased, and more and more items becoming commoditized, how strongly your brand connects with your target audience is a key competitive advantage.
The rapid growth of Eloquii also stands testament to this brand-first philosophy.
Similarly, a 10-year study by Jim Stengel showed that retailers that led with a brand and purpose-focus ended up almost 400% more profitable than those that do not.
We all intuitively nod at this, so even as the data may not have evolved to the point of exactly quantifying every aspect of your brand, rest assured that it’s critical to your long-term success.
3) Consumers expect a seamless experience, so design your marketing and processes accordingly
Modern consumers have come to have higher and higher expectations of the shopping experience. This means every touch point your brand has with a customer is important, from your marketing ads, to the ease of purchase, customer service, to post-sale follow-ups.
Wine.com took a holistic approach to designing the customer journey from discovery to research to purchase to recording.
As the result of this process, they found that certain days of the week saw very heavy mobile usage. They also posited that they can provide more value and make customers stick longer by launching a mobile app.
By developing and launching their own app, they found a younger demographic that were interested in wine, but unfamiliar with Wine.com, ultimately tapping into an underserved part of the market.
4) Peer to peer marketing builds trust quickly and increases sales
Consumers trust the experiences of others; that’s why reviews and user-generated content (UGC) are so powerful for driving conversions.
Jensen USA, a retailer of high-end bicycles, banked on this – investing heavily into generating genuine product reviews, user images, and building a community. As a result, they increased time on site by 37%, and overall conversions by 18%.
Also, the Q&A section now sees over 100 questions per week, but the best part is that 50% of those questions were answered by the users themselves!
5) The nature of a brand’s relationship with Amazon is complex, though you can take steps to get it working in your favor
As the big kid on the block, Amazon cannot be ignored. Internet retailers tend to have a complex relationship with Amazon as a partner, a competitor, a sales channel, an overlord.
Brian Fricano from Sustainable Supply was looking to utilize the new Amazon Business B2B platform to expand his company sales. Along the way, he found a lot of success but also discovered the tradeoffs in roping in Amazon.
Amazon Business actually has pretty strict standards for admission, with the requirement of 99% in-stock rate for all products and a 99.9% quality rate, amongst others. It’s a cloud with a silver lining though since it forces your business to work out its operational kinks to comply with these criteria.
Amazon can offer access to high volumes but tends to see much higher return rates (5x) and lower average order values. Additionally, brand loyalty and hence repeat business is harder to build on Amazon.
Be careful launching your signature, best-selling products on Amazon, as it’s likely to spawn copycats and also outrank your own site’s SEO. However, adding a portfolio of other products to Amazon Business can really give your sales a nice boost if done correctly.
The landscape of Amazon will continue to shift, but ignoring it altogether is a losing strategy. Instead, think about how your brand is positioned to work in competition and in conjunction with the Amazon platform.
Ipsos, (2017, June) Hearing the Voice of the Customer
GROW: How Ideals Power Growth and Profit at the World’s Greatest Companies (Crown Business; December 27, 2011)