Retail Online Integration

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Managing Editor

Retail Rants & Raves

By Joe Keenan

About Joe

Joe Keenan is senior editor of Retail Online Integration and Target Marketing Group's web-only brand, eM+C. In addition to his work on those publications, Joe has contributed articles for fellow Target Marketing Group publications Book Business and Publishing Executive magazines. Previously, he served as senior editor at Reed Technology & Information Services for five years. Retail Rants & Raves covers the wide spectrum of retail marketing, from the very best it has to offer to the very worst.

 

Designed to Convert

Tim Ash
3 Things Every Retailer Should Know About Mobile Visitors
Apr 23, 2014

Even as smartphones, tablets and wearables become ubiquitous aspects of consumers’ daily lives, digital marketers continue to struggle to figure...



Return on Inventory

Joe Palzkill
Good Plans, Great Reactions
Apr 22, 2014

An underappreciated component to inventory planning excellence is careful alignment of the planning calendar to the timing of marketing activities....



ThinkAbout: Inspirational Verve for Your Product Line!

Andrea Syverson
What's Waiting to Be ‘Just Born' in Your Production Line?
Apr 17, 2014

What holiday best represents your brand? How might the successes from that season be a springboard for others? What whimsical...



Retail Revelations

Melissa Campanelli
’Tis the Season for Experienced Retail Sales Associates
Nov 15, 2013

Many retailers are preparing for the busy holiday shopping days ahead by making sure their websites are working properly, their...



Catalog Doctor

Susan J. McIntyre
Why Catalogs Aren't a Bunch of Ads Stapled Together
Apr 11, 2014

PATIENT: "Doc, our new owners want to change the catalog so it's more like a series of ads — aspirational, exciting,...



B-to-B Insights

George Hague
2 Must-Have B-to-B Metrics
Apr 9, 2014

Smart CEOs know two essential B-to-B metrics to successfully grow their businesses: contribution per order (CPO) for new customers and...



The Art of Delivering Style

Maria Haggerty
3 Ways Retailers Can Avoid Warehouse Scalability Problems
Apr 2, 2014

Although growing quickly may seem like the ideal scenario, it can cause operational issues for retailers who are ill equipped...



Return on Intelligence

Jim Gilbert
2 Simple Ways to Become a Social Media Thought Leader and Build Your Following
Mar 18, 2014

Today I begin a new series about social media marketing. The goal is to help you become more adept at...



Shipping Insights

Rob Martinez
2014-2015 Conference Calendar for Supply Chain, Distribution, Postal, Specialized Industry and More
Mar 4, 2014

The value of attending conferences is significant: learn from a combination of expert and peer-led presentations on trends and strategies...



Print-Plus

Stephen Lett
Actions to Take (or Not Take) When Response Rates Decline
Feb 19, 2014

Catalog response rates have been flat or trending down the past few years … or so it seems. The web...



Email Applied

Reggie  Brady
Taking Advantage of Events, Not Just the Big Holidays
Sep 16, 2013

Most marketers develop an editorial and promotional master calendar to help organize their upcoming email schedule. You want to have...



International Expansion, Showrooming, Online Marketplaces Trending at IRCE

 
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Having spent last week at the Internet Retailer Conference & Exhibition (IRCE) in Chicago, I came away with three key takeaways: One, if you're an online retailer not selling internationally, particularly in Australia, what are you waiting for? You're missing out on a potential growth opportunity for your brand. Two, brick-and mortar retailers must develop a strategy to deal with "showrooming," — i.e., consumers using stores as showrooms to check out products, then buying those products online at a lower price (with free shipping, of course). Three, online marketplaces are proliferating — it's not just Amazon.com and eBay anymore — and becoming another viable channel for retailers to engage consumers and sell their products.

What's driving these trends, particularly showrooming, is the growth of mobile shopping. More consumers than ever are carrying a smartphone with them wherever they go, including shopping. Stories of brick-and-mortar retailers losing sales to consumers who use their smartphones in-store to find the products they're looking for at a lower price offered somewhere else were commonplace at IRCE. This isn't news to anyone, I'm sure, but mobile is going to continue to have a bigger impact on your business going forward.

Here are some more thoughts now that IRCE has come and gone:

  • Wednesday morning's keynote address from Fareed Zakaria, host of CNN's "Global Public Square," was terrific. Zakaria eloquently discussed the global economy and how the internet is driving it. He left many in the packed room feeling optimistic about the future of the retail industry in the United States, saying that what the country lacks in manufacturing is more than made up for by the large percentage of leading technology companies that can be found here. Zakaria exited the stage to a standing ovation.
  • The conference itself continues to grow at a rapid pace. This year's event attracted a record 8,638 attendees, an 18.3 percent increase over the 7,301 who attended last year in San Diego. IRCE 2012 had 564 companies exhibiting their e-commerce technologies and services, up from 504 companies last year. With that growth did come one troublesome side effect — the cab lines to get out of McCormick Place were longer (and slower) than ever.
  • A common theme I heard in many of the sessions I attended was that the customer is in charge in today's retail environment. Walmart.com's President and CEO Joel Anderson gave a presentation on how the retail giant relies on innovation to be present anywhere (e.g., online, in-store, social media, email, mobile) and anytime the customer wants it to be.
  • Free shipping is a cost of selling products online. Multiple people told me that their customers not only expect free shipping, they demand it.
  • Talk of selling products via social media sites, specifically Facebook, quieted down from previous retail conferences.
  • If you have both an e-commerce site and brick-and-mortar stores, implement a ship-to-store program immediately (if you haven't already). Consumers are increasingly using this option.

 

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