Lucy Marshall, ecommerce sales at World First USA, Inc. reflects on her experience at the recent ShopTalk conference in Las Vegas.
I had the pleasure of attending the first annual ShopTalk convention in Las Vegas this past week. The event brought together over 3,000 attendees from all segments of the ecommerce industry, from large retailers to start-up innovators, from data experts to user experience professionals. Here’s a recap of the trends and concerns I saw come up in sessions and conversations with people at ShopTalk.
Changing how consumers shop
With the ever-growing presence of ecommerce, consumers are no longer restricted to brick and mortar stores. A multitude of online marketplaces are available, many catering to niche needs, and consumers now have to want to go to stores. This is opening up new challenges for traditional retailers. A lot of the sessions at ShopTalk focused around the increase in interactive technologies that encourage the consumer to come into a storefront. For example, Penguin Random has debuted a storefront with digital interactive elements in addition to the books they’re selling. The store is filled with iPads and displays offering a very different kind of shopping experience.
We’re also seeing a trend toward more stores acting as showrooms, as opposed to the traditional approach of having stock in their stores. Retailers like Bonobos, a men’s clothing and accessories store, now display their entire line but don’t stock any products to buy in the shop. Instead, they offer in-store fitting and measurement to customers, and then ship the product after the customer has made a selection from the line-up. Storefronts are now focusing on creating a holistic customer experience, as opposed to simply selling a product.
The proliferation of new marketplace startups
A big theme at ShopTalk was the proliferation of new venture-backed startups catering to niche consumer needs and providing unique products. We heard from George Arison of Shift and Bill Bobbit of Move Loot, companies that help consumers buy cars and furniture. They aim to create a user experience that’s a step up from Craigslist, providing more services to both the sellers and the buyers in these scenarios, such as listing and shipping support. In the example of Everything But The House, an online estate sale marketplace, the company pays the seller for the collection and then runs an online auction, taking over the listing and selling process themselves and completely relieving the seller’s stress.
A big question on the minds of many was how these new marketplaces will compete with giants of the ecommerce world such as Amazon. Everyone had an opinion, but I agree with what the CEO of Magento, Mark Lavelle, had to say. He advised that to compete with Amazon, commerce startups should be global, fulfill how the customer wants, and build differentiated experiences. World First USA, Inc. specializes in helping ecommerce companies become globally successful by helping them pay suppliers and bring their profits home at better exchange rates.
With changing trends in shopping habits, we’re also seeing changing trends in how people pay for their products. In the case of startups such as Yo-Yo Wallet, consumers will soon have more options to not only pay for their items through an app, but to also have special discounts and offers downloaded to their phone immediately. This will streamline payments and also create customer loyalty by keeping them in the loop with deals from their favorite retailers.
Additionally, we’re seeing a move toward new developments in payment security. With the increase of mobile payments, there can be a greater risk of fraud and identity theft. Sift Science, a startup that has pioneered a machine learning fraud detection system, is working to address the increased security concerns that are arising with mobile payments.
Though there was some emphasis on payment options and technologies at ShopTalk, the industry will need to think more strategically about payments, which is key to retail success and an integral aspect of seamless customer experience.
New means of fulfillment
Working alongside Amazon sellers, one of the biggest hurdles I see my accounts struggle with is how to approach fulfillment. Stephanie Landry, the VP of Amazon Prime Now, gave a great presentation at ShopTalk on Amazon’s development of 1-hour delivery for Amazon Prime members. She said that Amazon has opened fully-stocked warehouses in urban centers that allow couriers to deliver customers’ products within an hour. This innovation has been a complete game changer for millennial shoppers.
We’re seeing a large trend towards on-demand fulfillment. Outside of industry giants like Amazon, companies like Delivery.com and Hello Alfred are taking on similar challenges for groceries and on-demand chores. Many companies are working towards expediting both the shipping of goods and the delivery of services to customers.
There’s never been a better time for a conference to address questions of innovation and disruption in the rapidly changing ecommerce space. With new players coming up, established players like Amazon innovating, and brick and mortar retailers trying to address questions of customer loyalty, it’s a very exciting time for traditional and new retail. One thing is for sure, next gen commerce will need next gen payment solutions. If you’re looking to grow your ecommerce business abroad and become more successful, we invite you to get in touch.