Earlier this week, the HubLogix team traveled to Las Vegas to attend ChannelAdvisor’s Catalyst 2015. It was a fascinating event, filled with great content from brands like Google, eBay and Shark Tank, plus “been there” insight from successful & growing online retailers.
Here are some common themes woven throughout the conversations in the desert:
Time is at a Premium in eCommerce
The concept of time as a valuable commodity was on the top of many retailers’ minds. For some, it is the redefinition (or absence) of personal work/life balance. The Herjavec Group and Shark Tank’s Robert Herjavec made the point in his keynote address to not expect much of a balance when growing a new business, comparing it to being “like a crying baby, with no regards to your actual spouse or kids, needing to be fed on its own schedule.”
Many eCommerce retailers cited the ability of their technology partners to free up time with which to be productive as being a major driver of satisfaction. In his address, BulbAmerica’s Corey Frons described his productive relationship with ChannelAdvisor in terms of time – by delivering on their value proposition, “they (ChannelAdvisor) have allowed us to step back and focus on the business as a whole.”
HubLogix clients echoed this importance and scarcity of time – and the importance of finding technology partners who can help with efficiency – with Mike Solomich of Quality Hardwoods pointing out that “you are freeing up hours out of my day that I can spend getting back to growing the business”.
Data Accuracy Can Make or Break an eCommerce Retailer
The concept of “Big Data” was everywhere with two common takes on it – without operational data accuracy and integrity an eCommerce business cannot win; with analytical insight can unlock massive opportunities. Being a technology conference, many retailers pointed out that maintaining partner trust via accurate data feeds (such as inventory counts) have become table stakes when working with Marketplaces (“It has become impossible for Amazon to send a customer to your site to buy a toaster if Amazon no longer trusts that even have toasters available”). Vineet Buch, Google’s Director of Product Management for Shopping Search, outlined their new shopping features and their ever-more-intuitive ability to route searching prospects to sites to make their purchases. “Of course,” Buch pointed out “the experience all falls apart without the data.”
Ice.com’s CEO – and self-proclaimed data geek – Brandon Proctor built on this idea by pointing out that not only do good data practices prevent the negative, but they improve upon operations as well. “Good data is gold…for one thing, it will make your technology integrations much easier.” He then added that with the growth in importance of Marketplaces to the eCommerce ecosystem, the level of competition selling identical products will follow accordingly. Identifying, testing, and applying customer behavior data will define success for online retailers in these increasingly competitive environments.
Technology Partners Need to Be More than Just Apps
The rapidity of expansion in eCommerce was prevalent throughout almost every presentation and conversation. “Take a global mindset”, “customers are expecting more”, and “assume bandwith will be unlimited” were pieces of advice given from the stages. At the same time, maintaining lean organizations to protect margins remained a top priority of many of the retailers we talked with. “Sales growth is obviously important. It is why I am here, of course. But I don’t want the additional complexity in fulfilling the orders from that growth to be an enemy to my organization”, noted one retailer. Their solution was to find technology partners that understood their business – that complimented their existing technology stack & took proactive steps to add value and improve margins on the front and back-ends of their operations. From printing labels to inventory management and order routing, online retailers are looking for technology partners that can solve big problems for them without passing the burden of headcount and development investment onto the client. “I like the idea of not needing to invest in a lot of programming to solve my business’ problems” shared Corey Frons.
We could not have agreed more.