I had the chance to attend Internet Retailer’s 2017 Conference and Exhibition in Chicago last week. McCormick Center’s East Building was brimming with retailers, agencies, and brands from all over the country.
IRCE had a lot to offer with over 1,000 booths, topics ranging from data science to international market-entry, and dozens of speakers from companies like Under Armour, Walmart Labs, Amazon and many more.
After two days of listening to speakers from every part of this industry; I saw some common themes arise.
It is not enough to simply put your product on an online marketplace.
Customers are using websites as a tool to do research more than ever before. They are bombarded with products through email, advertisements and through searches on online marketplaces. Brands must rise above all the clutter and show the customer how they fit into their life.
Companies like Sephora, are using technology to interact with their customers through augmented reality. They found an opportunity to reach the consumer through their mobile devices and bridge the gap between the in-store experience and shopping online. From their mobile device, customers can “try on” different products and see which they like before ordering. More brands will start to take this route and experiment with augmented reality.
Sephora is taking customer experience to the next level in their augmented reality app. #IRCE17 #mobile
— content26 (@content26) June 7, 2017
As brick & mortar stores continue to struggle, brands need to get creative.
We all know that eCommerce has become increasingly important as consumers turn to their computers, tablets and mobile devices to shop versus getting into their car and driving across town to shop in-store. While many brands have worried about what this means for the future of their business, others have used this as a chance to take a fresh and omnichannel approach to selling and interacting with shoppers.
Through brands reaching out to services like KIDBOX to bring their merchandise directly to the consumer, from personalization in the in-store experience from brands like Fabletics, and small businesses turning to Amazon Lending to expand their inventory; many are using this retail challenge to try new approaches to have their goods reach consumers.
The battle between Amazon and Walmart rages on.
Another big theme we saw during this year’s IRCE conference was continuation of the Amazon versus Walmart rivalry. Amazon continues to take a large portion of the online market share while Walmart’s integration with their in-store sales puts their revenue above Amazon’s total. While it is easy to get caught up in this back in forth, it is best to look at both as different opportunities for your brand to flourish online.
Each eCommerce giant has a large online reach and can be an excellent avenue to get your brand the exposure it deserves. Through careful strategy, smart content creation, optimization and marketing campaigns; your brand can find the perfect balance to lead to increase sales on both sites. Also, we cannot forget the other online retailers that can also build your brand’s reach such as Jet.com and others.
Content is more important than ever.
With so much weighing on that interaction with the customer on your product page, you need to make sure the content does the following:
- Shows an accurate image of the product
- Gives the online customer a detailed description of the product
- Answers the frequently asked questions the shopper may have
- Tells your brand’s story to the consumer
- Provides links to other products in the brand line-up
- Connects with what is important to the customer
- Provides a sense of trustworthiness and authority
You want the time the customer lands on your product page to be the time the customer purchases. It is in your best interest to give the shopper everything they need to decide to purchase your product and decrease the chance that they will return it.
Overall, the biggest over-arching theme from IRCE 2017 is that it is time to break away from the norm.
Use what you know and try something new. We are at an interesting time in the internet evolution where customers are looking for more from brands. It is not enough to just appear online – it is time to build the relationship with the consumer, find ways to fit into their lives, focus on different strategies for different online channels and provide shoppers with the content they need and have come to expect.
The market may be changing rapidly, but it is not too late for brands to adapt and thrive.