3 Takeaways from the 2017 eTail East Conference

3 Takeaways from the 2017 eTail East Conference

Last week about 1,000 retail and e-tail professionals descended on Boston for the 2017 eTail East Conference. During the show there were lots of great sessions that discussed various topics including the rapidly changing eTail market landscape, the impact of millennial buyers & Amazon.com, eCommerce site and customer experience optimization, and the fulfillment of products/goods to the customer. If you weren’t able to make it to the show this year, here are 3 of my major takeaways to give you a taste of what you missed:

  1. Own the Customer Relationship

The easy way to do eCommerce is to sell via Amazon.com and let them take care of everything. Sure, they take a significant cut of sales revenue, but it saves you from a lot of capital expenses related to setting up your online presence and fulfilling your products. But is that the full cost? No, it’s not. If you sell solely on Amazon.com, Amazon.com owns the customer relationship. By leveraging only Amazon.com, you are disintermediating your own business from your own customers.

Nicole Quinn, Partner, Lightspeed Venture Partners, said during a session, “Own the voice, don’t let Amazon own your customer’s voice.” That customer relationship is invaluable to an online business. So, losing that relationship can be very costly for your business in the long run if you ever need or want to market and sell to consumers directly.

  1. Be an Agile Online Business

Agile product development has been around for years. But the Agile concept (defined by producing an output, measuring results, and rapidly making incremental improvements) is making its way through various departments within organizations, including marketing and sales. It’s now make its way to e-tail and eCommerce leaders are taking note. Brent Cryder, Dillard’s CTO says, “Kill the things that are not working and put those dollars to work in the things that are, as fast as possible.”

Brent talked a lot about taking the scientific approach and measuring metrics, not gut feel.  In order to be successful, retailers & e-tailers need to experiment a lot and do it quickly, then point all the cannons toward the things that work.

  1. Delight your Customers (like Amazon.com does)

The theme here is that EVERY retailer is focused on finding new customers, but not as many are focused on delighting them.  One Etail East panel member said, “Everyone in retail is talking about Amazon taking their customers, but no one is focused on distribution.” His tone was that retailers should mimic the value that Amazon delivers all the way through their to their distribution and fulfillment capabilities.  Marketing and sales may spend a ton of money trying to attract new customers but “cheap-out” on the delighting part.  Think fast delivery and the opening-the-box experience — they should be included in the new definition of the online customer experience. The key takeaway here: delight the customers you have and you will have a strong brand and a stronger business.