LETT Me Tell You About...IRCE!

by Paula Jeske

LETT me tell you about…IRCE!

From June 6th through June 9th, 2017, approximately 10,000 marketers, executives, leaders and solution providers in the e-commerce world converged in Chicago for the annual Internet Retailer Conference and Exhibit (IRCE)! Lett Direct’s own Greg Lett, Geoff Hineman and myself, Paula Jeske, were among those in attendance. Although a plethora of conferences on digital marketing have come and gone over the years, IRCE has existed since 2005 and shows no signs of slowing down. It has been held in other cities, but Chicago will be its official home through 2020. We wanted to share some of the top take-aways from attending sessions and walking the floor. Learning: The Speakers

  1. Expanding the Customer Experience - Seen as the one and only way to beat Amazon*, there was much direction on what each and every etailer needs to do to personalize and customize the experience for their particular demographic. These are things catalog marketers have known for years, and it’s a good lesson for us not to forget – pay attention to what is happening at every touch point to make your product or brand memorable, whether it’s an ad, a customer service chat or a box on the doorstep. *We at Lett Direct are also true believers in the value of unique merchandise which is not readily or easily copied by marketplaces or big box retailers.
  1. Analysis of Customer Value - It’s been a long time since I’ve heard a speech at a digital conference on Lifetime Value (LTV). It appeared that most attendee companies at IRCE spend a vast majority of their time and budget working on (and whining about) finding new customers – but don’t we all! I appreciated one speaker who said a 1x buyer is not yet a customer. Of course, he had a direct mail/catalog background! Realization is dawning in the ecommerce world that many individuals search, purchase and disappear. Learning how to attract the right buyer, create a multi-buyer and retain them are new skills for pure plays. Catalog principles apply to the online world.
  1. Analytics – A Couple of Predictions
    1. Third party analytics platforms for social media are growing in importance. Google Analytics is good, but Facebook and Twitter’s analytics are limited and very proprietary. New developers are stepping up to fill the void.
    2. Data modeling to predict future sales - Take a group of people that purchased one particular item – look to see what else this group is buying. Note what products correlate or what commonalities you can find, and incorporate that in your marketing.
  1. mCommerce - A new study released by UPS & comScore entitled, “US Pulse of the Online Shopper™, Vol 1: Digital Evolution,” shed some fast facts on the rise of how consumers are shopping.
    1. While total discretionary retail was up 4% over the past year, e-commerce grew 13% with an impressive 45% increase reported for mobile retail spending.
    2. Online shopper satisfaction has risen faster for smartphones compared to other digital channels (but 93% still use desktop to place purchases, vs 43% smartphones, and 39% tablets).
    3. More device shopping = more spending. (Should sound familiar to catalogers!!)
    4. Online influences 79% of purchases.
    5. Searches are moving to single-channel vs multi-channel due to more seasoned online shoppers and the effect of marketplaces.

A couple of takeaways: know your customer preferences, their shopping patterns, and realize they could be shifting more quickly than expected. And, make sure your channels are optimized! The full study is available here.

Watching: The Show Floor

  1. Analytics & Attribution solutions - Many, many, new exciting software offerings being are unleashed these days! The number of vendors now offering a solution to tie your customer’s interactions from disparate devices to your CRM has proliferated exponentially, and the barrier to entry is lowering for the mid-size e-retailer. If these tools truly work, our journey to find the Holy Grail of response attribution will be within reach for most of us in the near future, and we’ll no longer rely on last touch or custom models to determine our customer’s journey.
  1. AI (Artificial Intelligence) - Software that can generate content stories from facts and figures. Lots of bots, even a giant “fake” robot (Geoff’s favorite), used to promote one booth’s AI feature. A “Google” for analytics, featuring search-powered analytics using natural language. If AI can lessen your workload, increase your speed to market, or improve the customer experience, then consider it and its quantifiable ROI. On a side note, although AI & VR are receiving a lot of media hype these days, recent surveys of CMOs show this element is the lowest priority on their spend list for 2017. So choose wisely.
  1. Fraud - Popular belief states that the use of chip at retail has pushed more fraud online. There was certainly a large growth of fraud protection software services present on the show floor this year, and this will remain a critical factor for all online – AND brick and mortar – retailers.

The third thing we did was listen to what the other attendees wanted to take away from the conference, and “Amazon, Amazon, Amazon – tactics on how to play with and win against” seemed to be the top theme! Also, many came with a shopping list and had a distinct purpose to meet with potential new suppliers on the large show floor. To summarize, it was a packed couple of days with some new ideas mingled with a refreshing approach to the standards – and potential new tools to accomplish the task.