With my head still spinning with all the inspiring conversations, sessions and demos at IRCE, I brought back the top five takeaways you need. Needless to say, the conference was filled with insights from industry veterans, emerging leaders, and innovative retail-focused businesses that left me inspired and fortunate to be a part of this industry.
1. We’ve only just begun the journey
eCommerce is growing year over year for the past five years, yet it still only represents about 15% of retail. We will continue to see the way people purchase and receive goods evolve. Even within the past years, a lot of changes from rapid delivery models like Amazon Prime to subscription model services like Jet to mobile and social shopping; it’s evident there is a not a one size fits all for eCommerce. I expect the upcoming years to be filled with innovation across the entire experience from product and purchasing to delivery and customer service. Get excited.
2. Be flexible
While this was a theme across many sessions, nothing drove this home better than the keynote by Jason Goldberger, President Target.com & Mobile from Target. Target hasn’t fought against eCommerce, but embraced it. By experimenting strategically, before making large-scale rollouts, Target blends eCommerce trends within their retail experience. A great example of this was ‘showrooming’, a trend where people go to the store to peruse, then buy online. Target showcases lawn furniture sets within the stores, but only offer the purchase online. They give customers the high-touch showroom experience and sell more expensive sets while minimizing inventory costs of stocking within each store. This idea of being flexible and testing new strategies is something every business can do in their own way.
3. Take a chance on the new guy
Closely tied to being flexible is being innovative. What better to keep you nimble and cutting edge than embracing a new technology especially those created by a start-up. Emphasized by Forrester's James McQuivey in his keynote, innovation is happening at an exponential pace, which is leveling the playing fields for smaller companies and accelerating the industry leaders who are open to new ideas. And as a retail-focused start-up, you know we agree! But it was also inspiring to speak with other brilliant entrepreneurs within the conference who are moving the industry forward.
4. Experience matters
Gene Alvarez from Gartner said it best, “the age of eCommerce was all about the transaction. Digital commerce is a move toward the customer experience. Having personalized in context within the experience, while respecting their privacy.” It’s a tall order, but one that is fascinating to watch within the intersection of technology, data and human behavior. No longer is the convenience of online enough, people want businesses to remember what they ordered, when, and to predict not only when they will need it again, but to curate what they should buy alongside it. That’s a game over if you are like me and have a hard enough time resisting as is!
5. Every dollar counts
From sessions focused solely on money-saving tips for shipping or whether to outsource fulfillment to all the cost-savings focused logistics companies in the Expo, it is clear that running a cost-effective business is top of mind for retailers. While the front end tends to be a “sexier” topic, the fundamentals of the business are driving costs and have become even more heightened with customer assumptions about free shipping & returns. Businesses will need to bring efficiency and cost savings to their business in order to compete.
The retail industry is in for a fun ride, and I’m already looking forward to next year’s IRCE.