Fast takes and what’s shaking at the Internet Retail Commerce and Expo in Chicago this week
“Retail stores are not dead.” Dave Gilboa, Co-Founder & Co-CEO Warby Parker
The first one came from Dave Gilboa, Co-Founder and Co-CEO of Warby Parker, and it’s a line we’ve heard before. Interestingly, Gilboa presented an opposing point of view from what we typically read in the media regarding death of retail stores. With the focus on digital marketing, ecommerce and all things online…the death of the retail store is a sure thing -- ToysRUs, Bon-Ton, Radio Shack, Sears -- and the list goes on. But then why are uber-successful ecommerce vendors like Warby Parker doubling down on retail stores? According to Gilboa, it is a natural evolution of serving their customers. Is there any better reason that that?
Omnichannel retailing means providing a seamless customer experience across all channels (online and offline) and it works, according to an article in Harvard Business Review.
Warby Parker realized their customers wanted more than just online access to their glasses, so they began opening stores in select areas to meet their customers' needs. Each store is unique, built to reflect the region, using local artists for design, and adding some fun along the way via video games or décor. Because for Warby Parker, the shopping experience for glasses should be fun, accessible to everyone, and they saw an opportunity to flip the model for buying eyeglasses.
Traditional methods for buying glasses meant a visit to a crowded store with expensive frames with complicated pricing modules, locked behind a case without easy access to try them on. At the time, it was unheard of to buy glasses online, let alone be able to try up to five pairs at home for free.
Warby Parker makes glasses more accessible, affordable at $95, and now with 70 retail stores across the US, more fun. Retail stores are not dead, especially when you build and design them to compliment your online strategy and meet and exceed buyer’s needs instead of trying to drive buyer’s needs.
“Everyone is your competition,” Seth Godin, Author, Keynote Speaker and Marketer
Seth Godin made his name helping organizations and marketers break out of the ordinary. Godin reminds us that our world is changing and that “everyone is your competition.”
MORE is a four-letter-word says Godin because everyone wants more, and we are giving them more, but we are not giving them better. And that is the problem with the majority of marketing today.
More is not better when it comes to creating more content, sending more emails, or when selling anything. Marketers need remember that we are selling to a person and just creating more noise, isn’t better. We need to do things differently than the others have done before us. Don’t do more of the same (which is another four-letter word).
Tomorrow is day two of #IRCE18 and the lineup includes Alon Cohen, President, Co-Founder of Houzz and Mariah Chase, CEO of Eloquii. Don’t miss the opportunity to hear first-hand how leading retailers, marketers and innovators are finding success in our omnichannel world and doing things differently than their peers.
Buyers don’t need more of the same, and don’t be so quick to bury the retail store experience if that is what your buyers want. Learn more about how to deliver what your buyers want and optimize the onmichannel experience with this quick video from Office Depot Sweden.
Erika Goldwater, B2B marketer
Erika Goldwater is a B2B marketer with almost 20 years of experience in demand generation, public relations and global events. She creates marketing that drives revenue. Goldwater is a CIPP/US and has been consulting for leading SaaS organizations including Protagonist, Leadspace, Eloqua and ANNUITAS, a demand generation strategy consulting organization.
Internet Retailer Conference Exhibit (IRCE) is the largest e-commerce conference for retailers and is widely known as the “one-stop shop for e-retailers”. With a jam-packed agenda of over 130 educational sessions and 600+ vendors showcasing solutions to help streamline your e-commerce initiatives, the event can be a little overwhelming, if not intimidating.
Here’s a check-list to help you navigate through all the options available at IRCE and get the most out of your investment.
Identifying your objectives and what you would like to walk away from the event with will help you to stay on-point and not get distracted by the many things that IRCE has to offer. Some things to think about when setting your goals for the conference:
Mapping out Sessions & Workshops
Now that you have identified the kind of information you would like to learn at IRCE, check out the different workshops and sessions happening. Select the ones that would help you gain insights to some of the goals you have set. Grab a printable IRCE agenda or view the online version to see the latest sessions.
Still feeling a bit overwhelmed and not sure where to start or look? Don’t worry, IRCE offers a Jump-Start Guide where you simply answer a few short survey questions and receive a complimentary guide composed just for you.
Two sessions inRiver is looking forward to are “Break Point: The Reality of US e-Commerce Today” in the Strategies for Top Executives Track taking place on Wednesday, June 6 at 10:30 am, and “Sneak Peek into Shoppers’ Shifting Preferences at Every Touchpoint” in the Omnichannel Leadership Track on Wednesday, June 6 at 11:00 am.
Technology / Vendor Research
With over 600 technology and consulting organizations exhibiting at IRCE, there is no way you can speak with them all. This is where the advanced search function on the IRCE exhibitor list comes in handy. With a simple check-box list to choose different categories and countries, you can start to narrow down the list of vendors you would like to meet at the event.
To help you effectively manage your time, take a look at the interactive exhibit hall floor plan to identify where the vendors are located that you would like to ensure you speak to. Hint: inRiver is booth 639.
Are there certain companies that you want to focus on to learn more about their solutions/service offerings? Schedule a meeting with them on-site. This helps ensure that you have some undivided attention by one of their gurus and get specific questions answered in real-time.
Not sure who you would like to meet with, or just keeping your eye out for new technologies? Try the Matchmaking/Exhibit Hall Tours organized by IRCE. It's an amazing resource to optimize your time.
Learning from others in the industry is still one of the most powerful aspects of a conference like IRCE. The event offers various opportunities to meet fellow e-commerce professionals through coffee breaks, lounges, cocktail receptions, and more. Don’t pass up the opportunity to start chatting up a fellow attendee and see what they are currently working on, or some of the challenges and obstacles they faced. This is first-person research at its finest.
Reach out to your current contacts or customers and meet with them at the event. Do a shout-out on LinkedIn and let them know you are attending IRCE and want to connect there. You can even identify others you may want to connect with at IRCE by searching the event hashtag, #IRCE18, on LinkedIn and Twitter.
The power of in-person events is the networking. Online learning is great, but in-person delivers countless opportunities to engage.
Bringing it all Together
Pre-event planning plays a key role in getting the most out of your time and investment in IRCE. Not only will you be able to come back with some actionable intel from the conference, but you will get your creative juices flowing.
Use this pre-event checklist to effectively navigate and prioritize your time at IRCE. Save hours of research and trial and error as a first-time attendee with a little planning. Even if this isn't your first IRCE, maximize your time, opportunities and learning with this list, and have fun a little fun too.
Chelsea Camille, Campaign & Alliance Marketing Manager
Chelsea Camille is a B2B revenue marketer with over 10 years’ experience in the technology space. Before she joined the innovative world of technology Chelsea belonged to the world of Fashion, helping companies reach consumers on the subliminal level through placements, colors, etc.
According to McKinsey, only 8 percent of companies said their business model would remain viable if their industry continues to digitize at the current speed and trajectory. Additional research shows that the spoils from digitization are not evenly spread, resulting in a few big winners and a large swath of big losers. In fact, the negative economic affects are twice as large for the bottom 75% of companies as for those at the top.
What is causing this business model disruption?
Location, location, location
For retailers, store location has always been one of the most important competitive advantages. For brands, it has been the product’s location on store shelves—the ideal placement being at eye level on a shelf or endcap. Brands pay significant sums to obtain the best possible placement, not only to glean customers’ attention and increase sales, but also to communicate brand strength.
As consumers turn more and more to the web for their product research prior to purchase, spending hundreds of billions of dollars by brands for better shelf space might not prove to be as effective as in previous eras. Indeed, product ‘placement’ (i.e., ranking) within search results is, in many cases, much more important.
However, search engines need to acknowledge that the product information is relevant, in order to rank the product highly. For the brand, SEO now becomes the crucial component—not whether the product is at the consumer’s eye level. This criterion is important not only for Google, but also for ranking highly on Amazon and on other retailers’ and marketplaces’ websites.
The Diminishing Value of Brand
When the consumer has instant access to almost unlimited choices, and ubiquitous product information, the resulting transparency diminishes brand value. Similar to the way the financial markets are supposed to run, everyone in the market is on an equal footing with near perfect information at their fingertips. As a result, product imagery, descriptions, specifications—and the underlying confidence in the product information itself—become more important to the consumer than the actual brand.
Amazon recognized this phenomenon early on and launched its transparency program last March for the Amazon line of products. This program has since been extended to any vendor selling products through the Amazon Marketplace. Every item that has a Transparency label has a unique code that can be scanned with the Amazon app to reveal the product information.
Where Does This Lead?
The playing field has officially been leveled. Therefore, without perfect product information and a great product story, the only thing that remains on which to compete is price. And with lower prices, you get decreased profits. To make matters worse, algorithmic pricing—or dynamic pricing, such as what you see on travel booking sites for hotels and flights—can cause prices to automatically fluctuate based on criteria like supply, demand, competition, or season. Thus, competing on price increases volatility and complexity—and produces a “winner-take-all” environment.
This is what we refer to as the “race to the bottom.”
As retailers watch and respond to one another—and Amazon—in their efforts to become the low-priced alternative, they become less differentiated and exacerbate the race to the bottom. Although many factors affect how competitive a product is, competing on price is a no-win situation. Instead, brands need to invest in their product information. Providing a differentiated product with a stellar product story behind it is the way to avoid the price war and a race to the bottom that no one will win.
Johan Boström, Evangelist and Kathryn Zwack, Senior Marketing Manager