Photo credit: Internet Retailer Conference & Exhibition 2011
This month Baynote attended the 7th annual Internet Retailer Conference & Exhibition (IRCE) – and man, was the conference buzzing! With the online retail market growing rapidly, there certainly is a lot to buzz about. To lend a hand to any of you still furiously sorting through conference notes and others who couldn’t make it to San Diego, I’ve compiled my notes on the trends that shaped conversations at IRCE this year. From the show floor, to back rooms, to keynote presentations, three major trends emerged:
- Demand for Personalization. Undoubtedly, the single most challenging and exciting trend for online merchandisers today is web personalization. As the face of retail changes rapidly, so do the expectations of all consumers. The ‘new retail’ is constantly being refined and tailored to meet consumer’s expectations to find and purchase exactly what they want within seconds. As keynote speaker Christopher Payne of eBay put it, the new retail is a “seamless way of shopping that is more convenient, more accessible, more local and global – and more relevant to more consumers – than any retail experience to date.” The emerging reality is this: Retailers need to find ways to provide a personalized and unique online shopping experience that provides more than just great recommendations.
- Extending Across Channels. Mobile commerce is a theme everyone is talking about this year, so it comes as no surprise that it was a hot topic at IRCE. The trend was validated when Forrester issued its mobile commerce forecast on the final day of the conference. In a Forbes’ article discussing the forecast, analyst Sucharita Mulpuru called m-commerce the “most heavily debated topic-du-jour among retailers,” and wrote that “mobile commerce will transform retail.” Despite the hype, Matt Poepsel of Compuware Corp cautioned during a panel that mobile retailers need to consider the mobile shopping experience from the viewpoint of the consumer to make it more intuitive and yes, personalized.
- All About The Bottom Line – eMarketer recently issued a report that predicted the number of consumers researching or shopping online will surpass 200 million by 2015 – meaning over 90% of all internet users will access e-tail sites. Despite high intent-to-buy among online shoppers that lean in retail’s favor, several IRCE panelists pointed out that many retailers only achieve single digit conversion rates. As you can imagine, there was much discussion about what was causing this disconnect. My biggest takeaway? eCommerce merchandisers need to use a combination of technology and their own market knowledge to drive conversions and make a difference in the bottom line.
In keeping with the conference theme, the eCommerce “race” is on, and it’s personalized, multi-channel, and finishes with a bottom line in a brighter shade of green. Were you at IRCE? What were your biggest takeaways from the event?