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Takeaways from eTail West Day 1

I have the opportunity and privilege to attend the eTail West conference in Palm Springs this week. This is a large industry conference for Internet retailers that provides tactical and strategic studies, networking, and salesengagements. To knowledge share with others at the event and the community at large I’m providing a few of the highlights from my notes today.  In general, a few themes I noticed were:

  • Get back to basics. Focus on driving traffic, make your site easy to use, and segment your customer profiles.
  • Integrate your channels for a seamless brand experience.
  • Social or New Media areas are relevant, but they should be a piece of your overall strategy and customized to your business needs. For the first time I heard some retailers question its relevancy because they have not had success in that space yet.
  • Mobile is here.  Are you in it?

My session/speaker notes are in bullet statement format rather than a typical blog post commentary.

Paul Elliott – Partner Acquisition Marketing- Rosetta

  • Mobile is no longer just for leading-edge retailers.
    • 1 in 5 consumers used mobile phone last holiday season to assist with shopping.

Bill Bass – President – Charming Shoppes Direct (Lane Bryant, Fashion Bug, Catherines)

  • Number 1 goal of eCommerce overhaul: Make it easy to shop
    • Focus on web 1.0 and not 2.0
  • Make sure onsite search works for what consumers know (not SKUS)
  • Banner ad retargeting
    • A/B test found that banner retargeting did not work.
  • They use their sibling brands on the top of their site as navigation tabs.
    • Attempt to cut down on the number of abandons leaving the brand family. (leakage)
  • Flat rate shipping message up front helps to reduce shipping abandonments.

Larry Freed – President and CEO – Forsee Results

  • Forrester says that conversion rates in 2009 averaged 3.4% for online retailers.
  • On average 55% of visitors come to your site to research information, while 36% come with the intent to purchase.
  • Conversion rates as a metric is flawed if you are using search marketing to drive traffic to your site. Think of ways to measure different conversion rates depending on source of traffic.

Jack Jia – CEO – Baynote

  • The essence of targeted marketing is context. Focus on presenting like products within context of main product.
  • With the Baynote product, the web site displays content dynamically based on what previous users have chosen and where they have navigated. The idea is that they are choosing things within a specific context.  (Wisdom of the crowd)

Pete Howard – Senior Vice President – Staples

  • Customer touch points
    • Staples.com
    • Customer reviews
    • Catalogs
    • Direct mail
    • Telesales
    • Retails stores
    • Chat reps, Facebook, Twitter
  • Factors that are highly correlated to a 5 in the delivery business
    • On time delivery
    • Ease of finding product
    • Clarity of promotional  offers and product descriptions
    • Helpfulness of delivery driver

Richard Gerstein- SVP Marketing-  Sears Holding

  • New tagline “shopyourway” – all channels equal.
  • The dead-end shopping experience is the worst shopping experience.
  • Examples of cross-channel integration happening in Sears
    • Free shipping for any catalog product not stocked in store
    • Personal Shopper – iPhone app where someone will call to make a purchase based on photo they select.
    • Manage My Life – Download all product manuals for things that you own into a profile.
    • Real time price check – Can check competitor’s prices in store.
    • Group Give – Multiple people contribute towards a single product.
    • LayAway for online purchases
    • Market Place – Affiliate program for small retailers (similar to Amazaon Affiliates)

Nathan Decker – Sr. Director eCommerce – evogear – Product Ratings and Review

  • Develop strategies to acquire reviews
    • Seek all information
    • Leverage the content
  • All fair reviews are open game
    • Negative information builds domain trust
  • Encourage honesty in customer reviews
  • Try to get 4-7 reviews per item because purchase percentage is highest in this category.
  • Tactics
    • “Write a Review” link on product page
    • Follow-up email
      • Send email 20 days after transaction happens
      • Sparse marketing in this email
    • Contest – Leave a review and be entered in contest.
      • Increased submissions by 49%
    • Use review headlines and star ratings
    • Sort-by filter on site for products with “Most Reviews”
    • Serve up review data so that search engine bots can capture and serve.

Verisign – Tim Callan – VeriSign – VP Marketing, SSL

  • Consumers reward sites that use and display best-in-breed security
    • Use-email properly
    • Use recognized security badges
    • Display the green address bar (Extended Validation SSL Certificate)
    • Communicate to your customer
  • Challenges
    • Increasing use confidence to transact online
  • Compliance
    • FTC guidelines (16 CFR Part 314)
    • NIST NSI Guidelines (SP 800-122)
  • Online Fraud continues to rise
    • Unique Phising sites detected is growing month-over-month
  • 48% of scanned computers have some type of mal-ware
    • The worst is key logging.

Michael Cooper – VP Specialty Channels – Home Depot – Multi-Channel Retailing

  • Creating cross-functional collaboration
    • Store Buy In – Stores get credit for sales
    • Merchandising alignment – Organizational synergies, Assortment alignment.
    • One voice to customer – Marketing messages consistent across channels
    • Stores sales facilitation – Browseable store SKUs.
    • Digital orange apron – online workshops, how-to-videos, online showrooms.
  • Ability to return online purchases at a local store
  • Redeem gift cards online
  • Multi-channel expectations
    • Consistency with online prices and store prices
    • Visibility to store assortment and inventory availability
    • Online purchase for in store pick-up
    • Status updates for special orders and deliveries
    • Online tools to estimate the cost of a project
  • Takeaways
    • Align metrics across the enterprise
    • Cross-Functional Collaboration

I’ll post my notes on eTail West day 2 tomorrow. You can also follow my thoughts on twitter.

  • Which retailers were questioning social media's relevancy?

  • Bill Bass of Charming Shoppes went on record as the first KeyNote speaker of the session saying that it was overblown. He acknowledged it would be controversial. Throughout the remainder of the I heard a few other retailers asking for case studies and definitive proof it was working while other retailers were happy to share how it worked for them. Frank Malsbenden of Vision Retailing had a session today (Day 2) saying that it was time completely reinvent your eCommerce sites to be social. I think the better example of where its working for retailers came from the panel discussion on social media today. See my blog post with day 2 highlights and the bullet notes on that panel discussion.