Online Retail Today

From The Trenches: IRCE 2017 Recap

Kibo at IRCE 2017
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Now that the flood of emails, promotions, and social media posts on IRCE 2017 have died down a bit, we thought we would provide a view from the trenches on what we heard at the annual expo in Chicago. This year, Kibo had a booth on the show floor, participated in an eCommerce Workshop, and shared a customer case study on B2B personalization up on stage. IRCE 2017 was a great conference, and here are the top five topics we heard over and over again:

1)Personalization

Retailers have been talking about personalization for the past few years, and now we are really seeing retailers making investments or creating budgets to make a purchase over the next 6-12 months.  Personalization has the power to improve click through rates by 51%, as was discussed in Kibo’s joint B2B personalization presentation with Zoro – and every audience member wanted to experience the same levels of success for their B2B and B2C channels.  

 

Personalization is a broad term, and we saw a lot of questions and discussion around elements of individualization and machine learning.  On the surface, many personalization solutions seem the same. Their underlying performance or effectiveness will ultimately be determined by how well the solution can individualize content and how finely tuned the machine learning engine really is.  If you are like many folks looking for a personalization solution, we encourage you to dig deeper on these two subject areas before making a decision.

2) Optimization as a Differentiator

No matter where you turned or which vendors you spoke to, optimization was at the center of the conversation.  Whether you were trying to increase revenue from your email channel, improve conversion rates, or maximize the customer experience with omnichannel, the name of the game is optimization.  Not only were vendors messaging to attendees on the floor about how their product will optimize their (fill in the blank), but the attendees were also leading conversations around optimizing a specific area of their business or commerce strategy.  If optimization is not in your top 5, then it should be as your competition is focused on it.

3) Manufacturers and Brands are Going Direct       

The age of channel conflict concerns for manufacturers and brands is over.  Customers want you to go direct and if you do not go direct, you will risk losing sales.  Several folks talked about creative strategies they were using to ensure channel conflict is minimized, but more importantly ensure the customer has the buying experience they are looking for. It comes down to one simple thing: jointly develop the strategy with your wholesalers, resellers, or dealer networks to find a strategy that benefits both parties.

4) Consumer Experience Needs to be at the Epicenter

This might be the most important thing coming out from IRCE – and it should be no surprise.  If your commerce or omnichannel strategy does not put your customer at the center, then it is not a winning strategy. We live in an instant gratification world where the customer expects a seamless experience.  We’ve seen success when brands and retailers sit down and determine what a  “seamless experience” really means for their business and their customer. Each retailer’s and brand’s customer target is unique and each customer is unique, so retail and marketing teams need to be discussing what the optimal experience for their customer looks like, and what tech needs to be utilized to actually provide the seamless experience. For example this can entail personalization, mobile, in-store use of next-generation technology, or simply basic building blocks like an order management system (OMS) to help drive better fulfillment.  Either way you slice it, walk a mile in your customer’s shoes and see what experience they are getting from you. Is it what you would want as a consumer?

5) Challenge Everything

Challenge the way you are doing things because consumer expectations are changing faster than retailer’s ability to respond.  These expectations span from fulfillment and pricing to product discovery and relevant content – but the only thing for sure is that retailers need to learn to adapt by bringing agility into their teams, processes, and strategies or they will run the risk of becoming irrelevant. Challenge your organization by asking the tough questions and making unpopular decisions, even if it means rethinking how you have traditionally done things.

 

Thanks for a great time Chicago, we will see you next year!

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