Top IRCE Takeaways – A CMO’s View

Top bits to remember from IRCE include focus on customer experience and the impact of the Amazon effect

Happy summer, everyone! While many people are heading to the water and cookouts, a bunch of us from inRiver spent last week at IRCE, Internet Retailer Conference and Expo in Chicago. While inRiver has been attending this event for the past six years, this was my first, and I had a blast meeting customers and partners and exchanging ideas with some very smart people on the expo floor. I also had a chance to check out a couple of the hottest sessions and wanted to share a few key takeaways from the show.

The Keynotes

Doug Stephens, aka, the “Retail Prophet” gave a statistic-filled keynote on the first day of the show. Doug continues to preach about how the Amazon effect continually sets the standard for all sellers of goods online. One new thing I learned from Doug’s IRCE talk is that shipping is going to become Amazon’s next enormous revenue stream and become the industry benchmark for shipping (and reverse logistics) excellence.

Jeff McRitchie from and Joe Caldwell of SIM Supply reflected on the dark underside of Amazon where they mentioned that while Amazon Businesses can provide great visibility for brands, there are also risks. He said seller fees hit margins hard and make it hard to know if you’re making money and who is buying from you; ultimately, Amazon holds all the power. In addition, sellers often fear being suspended for incomplete product information, lack of responsiveness, or too many negative reviews.

Focus for 2020

There seemed to be a quiet debate in the content sessions between the most important thing e-commerce sellers need to focus on in the coming year at IRCE. One of them a very technical topic and the other a holistic customer-focused one.

The technical topic on everyone’s mind is shortening page load time on your e-commerce site. Consumer expectations are ever increasing (see: Amazon effect, above). This year, the benchmark is a load time of two seconds or less. One of the presenters highlighted Google’s algorithm change last year that gave higher rankings to mobile sites that load under three seconds. One study from last year noted that for every additional second of web latency resulted in a 7% loss of conversion. So businesses need to balance their site design and aesthetics against the practicability of designing pages that render super-fast on all devices.

Customer Experience

But the loudest cry from IRCE came from the agencies and retailers who declared that customer experience is still king in the world of e-commerce. Elements of a compelling user interaction with your e-commerce web site included such classics as robust menus (with smart taxonomies), alternate product images, cross-sells and customer reviews, as well as configurators, chat functionality and videos showcasing product use and troubleshooting.

Finally, I spoke to a number of B2B sellers who are attending these retail conferences to learn about trends in the market that will affect them in the coming years. With B2C setting the bar in customer journey optimization, consumer expectations don’t change when they step through the door to their workplace. Leading B2B companies are already preparing to meet those expectations by implementing omnichannel strategies, systems, and process that are already working for winning e-tail organizations to turn browsers into buyers.

Kubb Game at IRCE

The team kept busy at the inRiver booth, talking to customers about how to get out of “Excel jail,” with our new syndication capabilities and how to play Kubb*, a Swedish summertime game set up at the booth. A few lucky players received prizes for best performance. Caught your interest? Watch the video for the rules if you want to play for yourself.

Thanks for hosting us IRCE and as always, when you want to learn PIM and e-commerce best practices to drive more revenue, we’re here for you. Just give us a shout.

*Note: An actual femur bone is optional and not really recommended for non-Vikings.

Post via Steve Gershik, CMO, inRiver