The annual Internet Retailer Conference & Exhibition (IRCE) in Chicago featured more than 200 ecommerce experts across 130 conference sessions. In addition to the presentations, the exhibit hall featured 600 vendors and the entire event brought in about 10,000 attendees. With that many experts in one place, it’s the perfect spot to learn about the latest in ecommerce – and what’s coming next. Here are a few of the major trends I heard at the show.
“Brick mining” retail stores leads to omnichannel success
Ecommerce company, Fabletics is proving that the retail store is not dying – instead it’s being used to bring life to its webstore. Gregg Throgmartin, General Manager of Fabletics, explained how the athletic apparel brand is thriving online with what he calls “brick mining.” By mining data from its 18 brick-and-mortar stores, Fabletics is able to use that information to help boost sales and improve the online experience. For example, if a pair of leggings is converting high at the stores, but not online, it indicates the need for better photos on the website. After the first nine months of “brick mining” Throgmartin says the company has experienced:
- 32 percent higher net promoter score.
- 231 percent higher lifetime value.
- 121 percent more purchases.
Augmented reality and virtual reality are going to be big
There was a lot of talk about artificial intelligence, augmented reality and virtual reality at the show. Sephora showed off how it’s allowing customers to use virtual makeup try-on and augmented reality through its mobile app.
Imran Ansani, principal manager of Walmart Global Ecommerce, believes augmented reality will replace smartphones in the next five years. During his session, he showed several use cases of the technology including try-before-you-buy options and showrooming. He believes augmented reality will be a game changer in the retail industry. “We’re moving from an information age to an experience age,” he said.
Marketplaces are exploding
Retailers who want to sell on marketplaces have lots of options today. According to data from Internet Retailer’s Senior Analyst Fareeha Ali, 200 billion dollars of goods were sold on marketplaces in the US and 30 niche marketplaces have launched in the last five years, totaling $2.5 billion. Amazon is still leading the pack, followed by eBay, but the newest competitor in the game is Walmart. It’s clear that marketplaces are here to stay and will continue to grow.
Personalization remains the top tech investment
Brendan Witcher, Principal Analyst at Forrester Research, revealed the top tech investments for retailers in 2017. The list comes from a survey of 80 ecommerce professionals. What topped the list this year – and the last three years? Personalization.
Witcher explained that today personalization is about creating systems of insight and systems of engagement. “Systems that understand customers, organize data, build profiles about customers and systems of engagement that allow you to create unique, individualized experiences for customers in both content, communication and experience,” he said. Witcher added that personalization is important because 77 percent of consumers have chosen, recommended or paid more for a brand that provides personalized service or experience.