The 2nd Annual Ecomm Forum was held on September 21st at Aria. Located in Downtown Minneapolis, the event brought in business owners, ecommerce experts, and high level executives across the Twin Cities Metro area, as well as a few National ecommerce partners of Irish Titan.
The Ecomm Forum event was prompted by Irish Titan because of the rich history of ecommerce in Minnesota. Many people outside of this area don’t quite realize how much ecommerce history the Upper Midwest area owns. The first few ecommerce powerhouses that come to mind are 3M, Target, and Best Buy, but it doesn’t stop there. Companies like Aveda, FUN.com and I See Me! are taking advantage of the ecommerce knowledge in this Upper Midwest area. As a region we should be capitalizing on the knowledge we have of ecommerce while continuing to build on emerging trends and expand the strong presence that we already own. (And have some fun doing it!) Hopefully, this year’s forum prompted further conversations between local ecommerce companies and created some high anticipation for next year’s event.
Peter Sheldon, VP of Strategy at Magento
Peter Sheldon kicked off the event with his highly anticipated keynote presentation. The theme of his discussion revolved around the top five things online retailers need to be paying attention to in 2017.
1. Millennials are taking over the (ecommerce) world.
Peter used the term “trailblazers” to describe customers. Your customers are the trailblazers for the future of e-commerce, and we should be looking at the trends being adapted proactively. Don’t sit back and wait for your competitors to adapt a game-changing trend before doing it yourself. Be proactive, not reactive.
Millennials are key trailblazers for the future of ecommerce. By the end of the decade, millennials will be the biggest group of core customers engaging in ecommerce. One of the largest millennial buying trends is the direct-to-customer approach. (i.e.. Buying from a brand, not from a retailer). This has everything to do with trust. Millennials trust that the brand has the exact product and assortment that the consumer is looking for, and the overall service and purchase experience will be better because of that fact.
2. Supply Chain Transparency: Introducing Omnichannel 2.0
If you have brick and mortar store and you’re selling online, your customers want to know if something is in stock or not before getting into their cars and driving to the nearest location. Nobody will waste time going to a store unless they know something is in stock. Here’s where omnichannel maturity comes into play. Be completely transparent about your inventory and data online and customers will be far more likely to go to your store to purchase. Also, if you don’t have something in stock at one location but do in another store, allow your customers to purchase and worry about shipping later. Don’t isolate that product to one inventory location. If your customer wants to buy, let them buy!
3. Shipping Expectations
Back to millennials. Millennials expect 2-3 day shipping. It’s become the norm. (Thanks, Amazon Prime). Millennials also expect shipping to be free, and will often times prompt BOPIS (buy online, pick up in store) because paying for shipping and then having to wait for the product is just too much to handle.
Amazon Prime set shipping expectation bar extremely high. Prime is the powerhouse, and brands are trying to compete with that by beating Amazon at their own game. (i.e.. Shoprunner).
4. There’s a new mobile sheriff in town . . .
. . . and his name is PWA. (Progressive Web App) PWA’s allow for a fast, slick experience that’s easy to use and visually appealing. It’s no secret that purchasing via mobile device on an app is much more user friendly than a browser, but the problem lies within the customer’s mobile real estate. The problem with mobile apps is that unless you’re a frequent shopper of that one particular store, chances are you won’t waste the storage space on your phone for that app. Not to mention, building and maintaining mobile apps is expensive. Hense why PWA's are dominating mobile user experience. Google supports PWA’s, and when Google is behind something you better start paying attention.
5. Content is KING
This is no secret to marketing professionals. Product content is extremely important for customer purchase decisions, especially when the content is coming from the customer themselves. In fact, 27% of buyers will relieve purchase anxiety by looking at product reviews. A few other trends that we are beginning to see include virtual chat functionality on a product page, and shop-able content that allows readers to click on a word to add that particular item to a shopping cart.
Jason Smith, Sr. Director, Head of North America Partner Sales at PayPal
Maia Haag, President at I See Me!
Mark Bietz, CMO at FUN.com
Judy Ma, Creative Director of UX at 3M Health Care
The panel discussion featured ecommerce experts from both local and national companies. Each panelist shared their personal experiences and predictions of where the future of ecommerce is headed.
Jason Smith on Payment Experience
“Millennials would rather go to the dentist than go to the bank.”
We live in a world where reaching for your wallet to grab cash or a credit card is just too much. People want ease, they don’t want to make that one extra step. They want to push a button and be done with a purchase. This is something PayPal has mastered. That little yellow PayPal button is famous and very trusted by consumers due to PayPal’s recognizable brand and reliable reputation. One-touch click will increase your conversion rates. Uber is a great example of this. Uber has become the norm of public transportation. When’s the last time you heard someone say they were going to “catch a cab”? Cab’s require cash, Uber requires your phone. The choice is simple.
Judy Ma on User Experience
3M sells 75,000 products, so Judy knows a thing or two about organizing data to personalize a sale. How good or bad user experience is on your website or after a sale can make or break your conversion rates. Customers will only come back to you if they had a good experience, so that customer on a journey with you. Once your customer receives a product in the mail, invite them to post a photo on social media of them using the product. It’s that word-of-mouth marketing through the use of social media that will create a fun user experience for your customer. In return, you’re using your customers to spread the word about your product or service.
Maia Haag on Personalization
Personalization is a movement. We are moving towards dynamically serving up the right content to the right user when they come to a website. Personalization increases conversion rates and keeps your customers coming back for more. I See Me! sells personalized children’s books and allows the customer to see the product before purchasing. Not all products can be personalized like I See Me! Books, so ecommerce companies need to apply that same idea to the customer journey. An example of this would be recommended items based on past purchases and content views. Personalize the site visit for your customer. They will spend more time on your site, allowing more time for purchase decisions to take place.
Mark Bietz on Millennials
It’s no secret that millennials are buying certain types of products. This all comes back to personalization; personalize the customer journeys of those millennials because it’s what they a) expect, and b) needed to convert them from visitors to customers. Millennials also research products and make purchase decisions differently. Social media is becoming one of those decision makers. FUN.com began creating social media ads and Snapchat filters targeted specifically to those customers likely to buy a particular product. Outside of social media, millennials want to read product reviews. Millennials need that social proof in order to ease purchase anxiety.
We’re at a point where ecommerce will always be changing, developing, and moving forward. As one community we can identify what’s working well, what has stopped working or failed as a best practice, and what we think is about to start working in the future. If you attended the forum, we hope you left with new ideas and thoughts to bring to your business. The 2017 Ecomm Forum will be bigger, better, and share new strategies and trends that have happened since 2016.