Editor's Note: 2 Key Trends From eTail West
As it usually does, the eTail West conference in Palm Desert, Calif., from which I've just returned, didn't disappoint. I'm back from the show with a stack of business cards from retailers and consultants whom I can't wait to contact to discuss retail industry trends, a reporter's notebook filled with great insights around cross-channel retailers' marketing strategies and a new excitement about the year ahead for cross-channel retailers. There's nothing like a few days at a conference to restart my engine and get me thinking about what's really important to our readers. While a bunch of themes emerged from the show — big data, analytics, social media personalization, customer engagement, conversion and mobile apps, to name a few — two stuck out that I'd like to discuss here:
1. The importance of omnichannel integration. Not a single presentation I attended or conversation I had at eTail West failed to mention how consumers today are focusing on brands holistically, not by channels, and thus retailers must strive to offer them an omnichannel experience consistent across all channels. Samantha Starmer, the former director of customer experience at REI, discussed six omnichannel attributes retailers must keep in mind when establishing their omnichannel strategy. They include the following:
- offer seamless connections (i.e., make sure your brand is consistent across all channels);
- maximize convenience (i.e., make sure customers can interact easily with your brand);
- be service-oriented (i.e., know where your customers are, what services/attention they need and then follow through);
- offer compelling content (i.e., offer advice, make expert recommendations and be brand appropriate, customized and timely);
- put the products you're selling front and center across channels (i.e., remember why you exist and focus on it everywhere); and
- start with the experience (i.e., remember, good customer service equals sales and a great customer service team that works across all sales channels is a great investment).
2. The rise of responsive web design (RWD). For years, many mobile insiders proclaimed "201_" as the year of mobile. While in my opinion that hasn't actually happened yet, 2013 is definitely poised to be the year of RWD. In short, RWD enables a brand to optimize its website across desktop PCs, tablets and mobile devices. At eTail West, RWD was discussed regularly on the trade show floor, during presentations and in questions to speakers from attendees. Are you using RWD? If so, drop me a line at email@example.com. We'll be tracking this trend and would love to hear your successes and challenges around it.