A Cataloger's Thoughts on IRCE
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The Internet Retailer Conference & Exhibition (IRCE) held in Chicago this June was a snapshot of the big trends that are driving the retail industry. How do these trends reflect the shifting landscape for internet retailers? Here are my takeaways from the event:
- “Retailers see double the growth in mobile share of transactions … and mobile nears parity with desktop transactions.” And “nearly four in 10 consumers shop on multiple devices, and complete those purchases on a mobile device almost a third of the time.” This data was revealed in Criteo's State of Mobile Commerce report. Consumers live on their mobile devices, which are rapidly growing as a platform for searching and buying products. Vendors and sessions covered everything from usability tools for developers to best practices for doing commerce via mobile.
- Thirty percent of U.S. online retail sales are generated by Amazon.com, either direct to Amazon or through its marketplace. Yet Amazon is the "frenemy,” with more than 50 percent of its sales coming from third-party sellers. One entire seminar track at IRCE was devoted to working with Amazon! Retailers were digging into all aspects of working with Amazon, from pricing algorithms to best practices for product reviews to winning the Buy Box to managing Amazon customers as well as managing the relationship with Amazon. Everyone seemed to acknowledge that Amazon’s share of the market was going to continue to increase.
- Retargeting is acknowledged to be a primary tool for efficiently talking with those customers who are in the market and ready to buy. Capturing website and shopping cart abandoners has become an integral part of retailers’ marketing programs. Criteo has a full library from its Fashion Flash Report to The State of Mobile Commerce that are required reading for marketers.
- Video occupies an ever-increasing role on the web in building brand awareness and providing rich content. And the search engines reward the effective use of video! Consumers increasingly expect video across all channels (website, mobile, social media), and retailers are using video to create engagement for their brands and individual products. The search engines rankings are being increasingly driven by the presence of product videos. IRCE was full of vendors focused on using video in exciting ways to sell product.
- Real product reviews are increasingly important while canned product reviews are recognized and punished by the search engines.
- Email continues to be a dominating driver of revenue and a primary way for online retailers to harvest demand. The evolving art and science of email continues to be a major topic because of retailers’ reliance on the channel to drive top-line revenue.
- Attribution and understanding where sales are coming from is recognized as vitally important as retailers try to understand the pretzel-like paths consumers take during the purchase journey.
As always, IRCE provided a wealth of actionable marketing tactics, initiatives and ideas. Once again the show proved to be an efficient way to calibrate the state of our rapidly evolving industry.
Jim Coogan is the founder and president of Catalog Marketing Economics, a consulting firm focused on catalog circulation planning.