Well, I am proud to say we completed our first exhibition at IRCE. We learned so much from our time in the exhibit hall to the speaking sessions we attended.
While the highlights I’m about to outline mostly apply to the consumer, they also have meaning and translate in the B2B realm, which is beginning to mimic the consumer experience and requiring a new challenge; that online buying be as easy for B2B buyers as it is for consumers. B2B buyers are human too, so we are applying these lessons to how we serve our prospects and customers. Here are my takeaways and what I gleaned as the most important lessons in the rapidly-changing world of eCommerce.
1. eCommerce will continue to rapidly grow as the internet becomes more ubiquitous (think outside of the US) and the younger population ages up. With time, this will eventually lead to more purchases taking place online as the older population that doesn’t shop online ages out.
2. Traditionally, companies that wanted to scale up started with a physical, retail location and later with eCommerce. However, the converse scenario (build online and then build brick and mortar) dominates today for new brands. As in-store spending continues to wane, even big box retailers are closing stores due to the lack of ROI. As a result, brands are boosting their budget to support the technology needed to deliver a strong customer experience instead of focusing on an aggressive brick and mortar strategy.
3. While Facebook dominates when it comes to active users, that medium has lost some of its power due to the Cambridge Analytica scandal, which resulted in the removal of third-party apps and powerful tools, like Audience Insights and Custom Audience Reach. Instead, Instagram is where it’s at for one reason; video and images dominate, which marries perfectly with the visual nature of B2C eCommerce. Snapchat is trailing behind Instagram when it comes to the number of users and user activity, so many companies are focusing efforts on Instagram, which recently made it possible for brands to make posts shoppable.
4. Worry less about last-click attribution, CPA and ROI. While marketers do need to keep an eye on these, the numbers lack something else we need to examine: the human behind these clicks. Seth Godin reiterated this in a session he led when he urged marketers to treat the millions of internet shoppers as individuals, not in the aggregate.
5. We are entering a new customer-centric era. If you don’t put your customer’s needs and wants first, someone else will. There are an endless amount of options today. On that note, we seem to have entered an era of consumer fatigue and frustration. Consumers don’t want to wait for the right voicemail prompt to get the department they need. Customers want to speak to customer service through the channels they prefer, not the ones you prefer to provide. Companies that recognize this will win and surpass the competition, even if their product is inferior, in some cases.
6. Be agile, and we’re not just talking about your development team and the resulting online user experience. Everything needs to be agile whether it’s your marketing strategy or your product development team. The world moves at an entirely too fast pace to be unwilling to change your approach when the market demands it. Keep in mind that you need to stay true to your company’s values and mission, but be agile enough to initiate and implement changes quickly. The trick here is not to always mimic what your competition is doing, but to apply what’s necessary to keep your customers returning over and over again. It’s not about outspending, but outsmarting the competition by being creative and innovative not only when it comes to your products but the customer experience.
7. The days of not taking a social stance are over. In fact, doing that along with some social good, is being very well received by consumers. However, don’t try to use this as a marketing tactic. Today’s consumers will see right through it and call you out for it. If you take a social stance, be prepared to gain new brand fans and lose customers. Whichever side you choose, there will be heat. The most important side you take is that of your customer while you stand by beliefs and causes you genuinely care about.
Overall, we found IRCE to be a great event in terms of the connections we made and for what we learned during conversations with prospects and customers. As we continue to develop and enhance our solution for B2B and B2C companies, we found the conversations we had helpful as we adjust our product roadmap and approach.
If you didn’t stop by our booth to speak with us and you’d like to learn more about our how our solution can help you run your business more efficiently, schedule some time with us here.