Shoptalk 2017 Commerce Takeaways

POSSIBLE’s own Frank Kochenash and Christine McCambridge attended Shoptalk 2017, the new event covering anything and everything commerce. With over 5,500 attendees, Shoptalk discussed the rapid evolution of consumer behaviors, new technologies in retail, and the latest and greatest trends. We caught up with Christine for a recap of the event. Here are her top takeaways.

China is huge

Let’s start with this staggering statistic: By 2019, 29 percent of all online shoppers globally will be in China. Add to this that 55 percent of ALL sales in China are ecommerce-based, and we’ve really got a lot to talk about. But with all of this, multinational corporations have had a hard time breaking into the Chinese market. This is largely due to not understanding the Chinese consumer. But Lee McCabe of Alibaba pointed out some other problem areas. Brands fail because they are too short-term profit focused, the local team in China doesn’t feel empowered, and the initiatives often move too slowly.

$17.8 billion in sales on Singles’ Day 2016
82 percent of singles say orders were on mobile

China leads the world in mobile, but they have weak brick and mortar retail where brands fail to wow. Alibaba and other Chinese commerce platforms turned all of this into an opportunity, optimizing their stores for mobile, and introducing light-hearted and quirky features like Smile Pay (literally smile into the camera and your payment is processed). It remains to be seen how brands will level up their response to this massive market, but the opportunity is clear.

Amazon is still the disrupter and can be the place to build brands

Similarly to our experience at WPP Checkout (Link to that article here), Amazon was on the lips of nearly every presenter. However, it wasn’t just about how the retail giant shapes the current landscape, but how brands shaped themselves using the platform. Anker, Cards Against Humanity, Stand Steady, and Trx—just to name a few—launched themselves by leveraging the customer base and recognition Amazon has to offer.

This also reflects a shift on the part of Amazon. As Peter Faricy, VP of Amazon Marketplace, noted, his team is working to help brands grow, rather than focusing on sellers. This includes encouragement for small brands: tell the story of your product on Amazon using lots of photos in a natural environment, with a good description, and you could be on your way to market success.

Retailers need to offer great experiences or convenience to succeed

And it’s hard to do both.

In a climate where you can buy nearly anything online, being inexpensive isn’t enough. And often, brands aren’t competing against products anyway, but against the last experience their target customers may have had.

This was key in the rise of Harry’s Razors over conventional shave brands. Their subscription service and branding offered customers a unique experience that felt premium but was low cost. Offering customers experiences like this goes a long way toward winning their business. But this tactic doesn’t work for every brand either. Where a beauty line might benefit from an experience, household disinfectant won’t. And that’s where convenience is king.

Brands need to be more agile

With a projected 50 billion (yes, billion) connected devices by 2020, and the rise of AI and machine learning, brands need to constantly pivot, assess, and refine to keep consumers interested. Retail for trial and subscription services are perfect examples of brands thinking of new ways to engage the online consumer.

An even more compelling example of great thinking for commerce platforms? Laundry detergent pods. Tide came up with the pods specifically as a commerce solution, solving the shipping challenges for their product.

POSSIBLE was proud to participate in Shoptalk, and we’re looking forward to supporting our clients with our takeaways, and testing out new ways of thinking about commerce solutions. Visit the Shoptalk website to learn more about the event.

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