Five Takeaways from Internet Retailer 2013
Internet Retailer Conference and Expo (IRCE) 2013 is in the books.
I’ve been attending the conference for years. I think the first time was 2003 when there was something like 300 vendors. A decade later, the organizers announced attendance and exhibitor figures of 9,500, and almost 600, respectively. That’s a lot of growth.
I’ve seen similar attendance growth with the eTail conference series. Online retailers just can’t get enough of getting together to learn and network. And Chicago is a great place to learn, network, and eat.
If you couldn’t get there, here are five takeaways that stood out for me, based on walking the expo floor, sitting in conference sessions, talking to FastPivot customers, and speaking with partners, prospects, and other vendors.
Internet Retailer is definitely the global watering hole for the ecommerce industry. For the second year, Rakuten CEO Hiroshi Mikitani gave a keynote. (If you’re drawing a blank on Rakuten, it bought Buy.com in June 2010). He must have made a deal with Japan Airlines, too, because there were at least 50 Rakuten employees at the conference. Easy to pick out with their brandedtee shirts.
Mobile commerce and everything associated with it just keep growing. Why? Many stores report that over 10% of site traffic is coming from smartphones, a number that is quickly rising. Mobile strategy and mobile design continue to be conference sessions that fill up fast. The one-day, post-IRCE specialty conference focused on mobile, too. Finally, the organizers announced that the IR Focus Conference in Orlando next February, will be designed around Web Design and Mobile. There will be separate tracks for both, and mobile will get equal billing on the marquee out front.
Not surprising, is it? Social has become a source of content creation, it can increase conversion, and it definitely aids in raising customer loyalty. And it’s also a customer service channel that can deliver call center savings. There were a lot of social-centric conference sessions and a couple of interesting vendors on the Internet Retailer expo floor. A small-business session speaker said that chat on-sitechat is the modern world’s version of a store greeter. It’s a must have. Social Q & A system vendors like TurnTo.com were also interesting.
Growth and consolidation
If you build a better mousetrap or ecommerce technology or service model, and the timing is right, someone will buy you. Acuity falls into the third category. Accenture’s $316 million, mid-May acquisition of the direct marketing agency was a conversation topic at the show. Who will be gobbled up next, as the popularity of data-driven marketing continues to rise?
Al Gore was another keynoter, speaking of the imperative of taking an international perspective in “The Global View: The Internet, Business and the Worldwide Opportunity.” While the former lieutenant to POTUS didn’t present any unfortunate truths about online marketing and retailing, the inevitability of Internet sales taxation, courtesy of legislation such as the “Marketplace Fairness Act,” was a really big buffet line topic.
These are my takeaways from the 2013 Internet Retailer Conference and Expo in Chicago. Definitely worth making the trek. If you’d like to discuss any, drop me a line at matt at fastpivot.com