Just back from the 2013 Yahoo! Merchant Summit in Santa Clara, CA. It was a hectic 48+ hours; talking to customers, prospects, partners, competitors, and Yahoo! company personnel. I’d rate it “better” than the last couple of years. Here are the key takeaways for me:
1. Attendee Optimism
Optimism was much higher compared to the most recent annual summits. The 2013 event sold out, and there was a lot of optimism among attendees about online retailing in general, and the Yahoo! platform, in particular. As a vendor, Yahoo! appears to be more responsive than before, and more willing and nimble in terms of delivering upgrades (see Lexity integration).
2. Lexity Acquisition and Integration
Lexity is/was a 4-year-old startup that provides retailers with a marketplace or platform of ecommerce apps. Its Yahoo! roots were deep from the beginning, given that Lexity CEO Amit Kumar was formerly a Director of Product at Yahoo, and Lexity launched with initial support for both Yahoo! Stores and Shopify. Still, the announcement last week of Yahoo!’s acquisition of Lexity surprised a lot of Summit attendees, and even Yahoo! employees.
What’s promising is that Yahoo! integrated Lexity into the Merchant Solutions platform in a week. Ongoing investment in the Yahoo! platform like this boosts merchant confidence.
3. Social Persuasion Panel Starring Matt Ledford (Yeah!)
Neil DeLuca, Sr. Manager Social Media Engagement at Yahoo!, moderated the panel. I spoke alongside Top Right President Ron Pereira, and TurnTo Network’s Director of Marketing Cathie O’Callahan. We had an almost-full room to hear a very lively discussion on how to use tools to engage with prospects, invite them to your site, and inspire engagement and discussion throughout your pages.
Cathy started off by talking about on-page social and community marketing through reviews. Ron spoke about engaging your customers socially but of course by using email, emphasizing the importance of list segmentation, which too few retailers actually do. (Lesson: more tailored email appeals deliver much higher ROI). The audience questions were really good. “What if you get negative reviews?” was a great question. (I’ll cover the discussion and recommendations for that question in a separate post next week).
The question I started my presentation with was: “How many of you have done door-to-door or face to face selling? Do you remember how much time you spent learning to ‘build rapport’? Social media can help your site ‘build rapport’ and trust!” I also have slides available by request with the top social media tools we use here at FastPivot.
4. Launch of Ecom Hell Book by Shirley Tan
Shirley Tan, who created and ultimately sold AmericanBridal.com as a flourishing online business, released her new book, Ecom Hell. We’ve known Shirley for years. She spent years deep in the online retailing trenches, and continues to consult in the industry so she’s got a lot of wisdom to impart to newbies and more experienced retailers. Her new book is getting rave reviews on Amazon. Key lesson: If you don’t create business process to scale, you are doomed to live in ecommerce hell. Hence, the book title!
5. Mobile Commerce and Responsive Sites
Really big interest in these areas. Yahoo! is much more open to delivering mobile shopping experiences so we expect to see some important technical developments in the next year. (Our FastPivot customers are generally much more mobile aware than they were a year ago. We’re working with a lot of them to think more about women using tablets on Sunday mornings, for example, to shop).
Overall, the 2013 Yahoo! Merchant Summit was quick, busy and fun. There is a lot of hope and optimism among Yahoo! Store owners, and we’re looking forward to translating this energy into results and revenue as soon as possible.