The Big Four – eCommerce Trends from eTail East 2013

August 14, 2013

I’m wrapping up the eTail East conference in Philadelphia. My 140-character (much less) summary of the conference: a lot of mobile with some local, social and big data mixed in.

Mobile – responsive design, conversions and showrooming

Speech bubbles for Right and Wrong

For most retailers, thirty percent of web traffic now comes from mobile and it’s growing fast, very fast. It seems that, at least at this conference, “responsive design” is the choice-of-the-day, not custom mobile apps. At Macy’s a dedicated mobile, creative team, is now designing campaigns (email and other) for different screen sizes. Conversion rates on mobile are still lagging laptops for some (like Macy’s) whereas others see increased conversion (up to 40% on tablets).

Foresee, a company which focuses on customer satisfaction surveys, reported that a quarter of all shoppers, half of web shoppers and 67% of mobile shoppers pull out their cell phone while in the store. This is called “showrooming”. More than half of these “showroomers” actually browse the site of the same company that they are visiting. This is a huge opportunity for retailers. Some supermarkets have created dedicated in store mobile experiences with shopping lists apps and mobile scanning apps that will deliver you product information as well as alert you to discounts in the aisle nearby.

Local – bringing digital experiences into the store

Retailers with physical stores are bringing digital into the local shopping experience. Macy’s is piloting a program where they empower local storeowners (starting with the flag ship stores) to create and distribute local content. Storeowners quickly discovered how much work it requires to create content and asked for help from headquarters.

Some retailers are also experimenting with making local storeowners responsible for collecting local reviews. Urban Outfitters is trying to figure out how to empower store employees to recommend items which may not be in stock in store but available online. Dillards stores were amongst the first to issue electronic receipts in stores, thereby collecting 60,000 new email addresses each week.










Chick-Fil-A local storeowners came up with the idea of a daddy daughter date night, which became a huge hit. Customers would dine in a special reserved area on tables with white table clothes. The program drove local customer acquisition and retention, introduced the next generation (of daughters) to the brand, but also generated a lot of social media attention.

Social – give customers something to talk about

Social is growing up. Several retailers shared the success of Facebook and Facebook-only targeting. Michael Kors launched several products exclusively via Facebook and sold out in no time.  The key with social is to give your customers to talk about. Perhaps you already have great products and personalities in your business, which people would like to discuss, such as some of the QVC celebrities. Video is a great medium to pass around. My favorite from the conference was the reminder of this 2010 Jet Blue video.

Big Data - lots of it, but not always linked to campaigns

Everybody is collecting customer data. The challenge is to make good use of it. Mark Uhrmacher, the founder of Ideeli (an AgilOne customer) pointed out that it starts with measuring your campaigns and channel performance in great detail. Then you can start to experiment with campaigns that make use of customer data. A/B testing campaigns will tell you accurately what works and what doesn’t and is often better than campaign attribution. Vermont Teddy Bear decided to get around the campaign attribution debate by putting a mandatory field on their check out that asks “how did you get to us today” and has resulted in lots of insight with respect to customer perception of campaigns.









The biggest gap is to connect customer data with the different campaigns. Macy’s collects a lot of information about brides when they put together an online registry, but they are not able to use all of this data in their email campaigns.

Let us bridge the gap between customer data and customer campaigns. Contact us today for a demo.