With eTail West just three days away, we’re looking forward to getting together with the best-of-the-best in internet retail next week in Palm Springs. As I began preparing for my chairperson’s opening remarks and panel discussions with industry luminaries (Nine West, Haggar, Ritani, Living Direct, Chegg, HP, Moosejaw, Extole and Ensighten, to name a few), a few trends began to emerge. Take a read and let me know if you’ve seen the same trends, disruptions, and opportunities facing your business.
Better yet, join us at Palm Springs next week as I kick off an exciting morning of spirited discussions and best practice sharing on Wednesday 2/24. Find us at booth #418 to see how we help 47 of the Top 100 Internet Retailers improve digital performance and revenue. You can even get a free assessment of your website’s performance. (Here’s a roundup of all the SOASTA activities at eTail West.)
1. Retail is at the forefront of a massively disruptive digital transformation
We are in the era of “retail everywhere.” Today’s digital retail consumers are hyper-connected, 24×7, omnichannel, and have high expectations for their online experiences. They want retailers to know them, serve them, delight them, and not waste their time.
By 2020, Forrester estimates that e-commerce will represent $10 trillion of the global economy. Digital performance has never mattered more than it does today and retailers are embracing new skills, processes and technologies to deliver frictionless e-commerce customer experiences. What were once considered cutting edge — such as mobile, social, and cloud-based services — are now considered table stakes for any retailer hoping to remain relevant.
2. People before technology – always!
To move at the speed of consumers, etailers must adapt an agile approach to doing business — from sourcing, merchandising, user feedback, digital payments to shipping and post-transaction support.
To excel in optimizing this end-to-end customer journey, etailers are in dire need of skilled workers who understand both business and technologies and can coalesce business, operations, and development functions to deliver against a common goal – providing a frictionless user experience. Most etailers are continually challenged with recruiting talent that has the right cultural fit, organizing this across various functions, while at the same time defining agile business processes and shared KPIs to enable an overall faster time-to-market.
3. Omnichannel (and, increasingly, IoT) is the new norm
To thrive in today’s hyper-competitive digital retail environment, etailers must provide a seamless experience across web, mobile, social, and email — as well as in traditional brick-and-mortar stores. Mobile is the leading catalyst for change with IoT and wearable technology rapidly following suit. Many etailers are seeing, for the first time, smartphone revenue overtaking desktop revenue. The ability to monitor and gain visibility into omnichannel customer behavior, engagement and conversion is now a critical requirement to the success of digital retailers.
4. In digital retail, customer experience is the ultimate competitive differentiator
Today’s digital retail consumers not only own the shopping experience, they can also reconfigure it, manipulating different devices across multiple channels, quickly. With competition just one click way, etailers must work intelligently to earn mindshare as well as wallet share.
According to Accenture, the inability for brands to deliver winning customer experiences is resulting in a “switching economy” that accounts for an estimated $6.2 trillion in global revenue opportunity. At eTail West, you will hear how leading e-tailers monitor and quantify customer experiences in real time, on difference devices, in different geographies, across both digital and analog channels to meet customers’ dynamic preferences.
5. The need to double down on analytics
The influx of big data, advances in processing power, and data science are now enabling etailers to make more informed decisions, predict customer demand, and even prevent problems from occurring. By leveraging analytics and aligning this with customer experience, IT performance, and business outcomes, leading etailers are now able to deliver hyper-personalization, optimizing the customer journey, as well as monetization, in real time and at scale.
Agree? Disagree? I would love to hear from you. Leave a comment below — or, even better — find me at eTail West next week.
About the Author
Ann has spent over two decades leading some of the most disruptive innovations in software-as-a-service, cloud computing, cybersecurity, e-commerce, data analytics, mobile software, networking and embedded system technologies. She is a leading advocate for better customer experience management and believes today's mobile and hyper-connected consumers deserve web and mobile applications that are fast, reliable and easy to use. Prior to SOASTA, Ann was Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer at LiveOps. Ann also served in a variety of management roles at Symantec, Sybase (acquired by SAP), eBay and HP. Ann received her bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering and her master’s degree in business administration from the University of Florida.