Editor's Note: Key Retail Trends From eTail West
I’m writing this Editor’s Note from the eTail West conference in sunny Palm Desert, Calif., and I’m dizzy with excitement over all of the new and fun things I’m hearing about in the cross-channel retail industry. Here are two key themes I’ve heard while at eTail that I think you should be aware of:
Digital Disruption: A key trend for cross-channel retailers to keep their eyes on is the growth of direct-to-consumer selling. “Big brands are building online more quickly than ever before,” said Dana Settle, founding partner of Greycroft Partners, a venture capital firm that focuses on companies in the digital media space. “All of the pieces are in place in terms of infrastructure for them to do so. They can source product very easily with very little capital, for example.”
Settle, who was speaking on a keynote panel discussion about emerging and current customer retail trends, said that while it’s easy for big brands to have an online presence, it’s not easy for them to sustain their growth.
“Anyone can easily go online today, so when we look at a company before deciding if we should fund it, we make sure it has the relationships in and an understanding of its target market in a way way that nobody else does. Finding those companies is the mystery, science and art of venture investing.”
Technology and Big Data: As more business is transacted by consumers via multiple channels, more retail marketers are focusing their attention on data and the technologies to analyze it. “With so much business happening on the web, on mobile devices, on tablets, offline and online, the sheer amount of data available to marketers is vast,” said Ajay Agarwal, managing director of Bain Capital Ventures, who also spoke on the same keynote panel with Settle.
“It’s going to take sophisticated technology to take advantage of all of that data, so there’s much more of an emphasis on the data and the technology needed to analyze it.” In fact, data isn’t only the domain of tech guru geeks anymore. Agarwal cited a recent study from technology research firm Gartner which projected that by 2017 chief marketing officers will spend more money on IT resources than chief information officers. “Retailers and e-tailers who harness this data and analyze it will have a competitive advantage,” he noted.
Other trends that the keynote panel addressed that retailers should be aware of going forward include the following:
- the growing number of companies offering personalized, custom merchandise on-demand;
- an increased emphasis on behavioral commerce, the practice of giving different consumers different offers based on their shopping personality and buying behaviors;
- a continued emphasis on creating a first-class mobile experience for consumers, whether they’re shopping via a mobile app, website or tablet; and
- the growth of new social media channels like Pinterest, which is already delivering high-quality traffic to retailers.
Trends From Our Readers, Leading Female Retail Execs
This Editor’s Note doesn’t contain all the retail trends discussed in this issue, however. Check out our Annual Trends Survey, which focused on cross-channel marketing and promotional integration. Our readers, who were polled for the survey in January, revealed that traditional marketing channels such as email and search are continuing to deliver solid results for them, while social media, affiliate and video marketing will be seeing an increased share of their marketing spend in 2012.
Another trend? An increase in the number of high-ranking female executives at leading cross-channel retail brands. This issue’s cover story honors these top women. The article highlights senior-level women who have helped their companies survive and grow despite the evolving retail industry and volatile economic climate they’ve had to overcome. You’ll learn about their career paths and achievements, plus each woman has shared her best tip for succeeding in cross-channel retail.