eTail West is one of the largest multi-channel retailer conferences. Social, mobile and tablet are nothing particularly new in the eCommerce world (see: multichannel), but most companies have now had time to test, optimize and improve their strategies around these different areas.  Learn what these large companies are focused on in a few key highlights:

  • Social channels as retail stores aren’t worth the investment and time. As one venture capitalist put it, putting your catalogue on Facebook is “silly.” Social channels have yet to show high ROI. And while brands and retailers alike understand that social is a place they must have a presence, the level of conversion from social channels remains questionable.
  • Pinterest is being used but mainly as a high quality traffic driver. When social became the hot focus around 2009, a lot of companies tried to leverage their website onto Facebook in order to be where their customers were spending the most time. Although Pinterest is driving more traffic than LinkedIn and Google (combined), at eTail West it was mostly viewed as a high quality traffic driver, and not a place to upload your entire catalogue. Lesson learned.
  • When it comes to the customer experience, you need to adapt your content for the channel. In a session on mobile and tablet integration to the shopping mix, the iPad was  considered a transactional device whereas mobile is considered an informational one. If you design with your customer’s experience in mind, content becomes easier to share, find, and most importantly, purchase.
  • Customers need a first-class mobile experience. Mobile has, and will continue to be, one of the hotly debated topics for retail marketers. In one session, research showed that most smartphone users look at their phones an average of 40 times in one day. Whether it’s to purchase isn’t likely, but the mobile device is still considered a highly relevant channel to the customer experience.
  • Tablets deepen existing relationships. Retailers highlighted that tablets are not necessarily a place for new customers and acquisition. The tablet experience deepens the existing relationship between the customer and brand. Therefore, it remains important to provide clear, easily accessible and navigational tablet sites.

Although, some argue that mobile devices are better used for research, competitive pricing and purely informational use, others argue that mobile will continue to grow and increase revenue for retail stores. The number one takeaway is to provide seamless and memorable positive experiences for the user. When the Internet emerged and people first started to shop online, users were more forgiving. However, with the level of technology now available, a poor site experience may cost you in the end.