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Transforming Retail: What Brands Can Learn From eTail West

Lindsay Tjepkema
Lindsay Tjepkema , Global Head of Content , Emarsys

Emarsys joined thousands of retailers and digital marketing experts in Palm Springs for WBR’s eTail West conference. The week was packed with panels and presentations, covering the current state of the e-commerce industry and what lies ahead. We learned what challenges retailers face, and what their priorities are for solving them in 2016 and beyond. Here are just a few themes that emerged from the conference surrounding mobile, social, and digital innovation strategies.

Build an Experience

Focus on “why” and not “what”. Ask yourself, why do your customers need your product and how can you help them, not just “hey, here’s my random product”. While building engaging experiences, remember to reduce any friction or potential pain points that could cause your shopper to disengage. This could include optimizing the time it takes your pages to load, integrating more seamless payment options, and making it easy to browse and shop regardless of channel or device. One tool that makes it easy for your customers to shop online and in store is your mobile app. Don’t have an app yet? As Beyond the Rack’s VP of Marketing, Richard Cohene, said: “[if] you sell stuff on the internet, you need an app, and customers that download your app are worth 10% more”.

From Conversation to Content

Authenticity is key. Foster and encourage conversations with, and about, your brand, then use these conversations as promotions (if permitted) to increase engagement across all channels. Whether in post-purchase emails, asking your customers to share photos, or a product review, brands should be looking to their own customers and fans to help produce engaging content. Seventh Generation invested in bloggers early on to create content. Brands, such as Wet Seal, are using content to project their brand personality and create an authentic voice in their marketing content. Many other brands are telling a story beyond promotions and discounts, and using their own customer conversations to do so. No one can tell your story better than your biggest fans!

Personalization

Personalization isn’t a new concept, but it’s becoming more essential than ever, and should be a top priority for retailers. Throughout messaging, content, emails, automation, and products, everyone at eTail West was talking about personalization. Kelly McGann, CMO and Head of eCommerce & Integrated Marketing for Sears Holdings Corporation, said there will be 20 billion connected devices in the next five years. The more connected consumers become, the more relevant content customers will want and need. If you want to find and keep new customers, your messaging will need to be tailored to their interests and behaviors. Your content need to become more personalized and seamlessly integrated into each channel, to reach your audience and customers wherever they are.

eTail West provided a glimpse into the overall world of e-commerce and what the future will look like for brands in an ever more connected and shifting landscape. Retailers need to keep up and remain relevant to their audiences and those who engage with their customers, solve pain points, listen, and provide highly personalized experiences will win this year and in years to come.

Want more? Check out How Rue La La Know Their Customers Better Than They Know Themselves: Real-Time Personalization at its Finest.