eTail: Mad Max and A View From Experts on the Future of Ecommerce
Adam Meshot, Director of Growth, Cordial
I’ve been going to Etail West for about 8 years in a row. It’s easily my favorite show for a number of reasons, great content, great opportunity to see what’s innovative in martech and learn how retailers are stretching their means to produce incredible results.
As we prepared to make the trek to beautiful Palm Desert, CA for Etail West, I could see retailers and reps alike posting their excitement on LinkedIn and Twitter, arranging sidebar coffee meetings, promoting their after hours events and preparing to showcase their award worthy results from 2015. All the fervor around this event made me comically think about Mad Max with a nomadic post-apocalyptic army of retailers and sales reps descending upon the desert oasis from air, Uber, Hertz rental car, maybe a motorcycle thrown in there somewhere who knows, dust flying as the psychotic warriors shout #etailwest!!!!
It got me thinking about the post-apocalyptic nature of Mad Max and the remnants they collected to build their fortresses, their weapons, their means of survival. Over generations of mining sand for tools, they must have unearthed a bit of history that provided some clues to how civilization existed in the past…some of those tools probably didn’t entirely make sense in the context of the acquirer. Follow me here for a minute, what would that post-apocalypse world look like in 200 years? What contraptions would they unearth and what would those clues tell us about how we as humans existed?
The Future of Ecommerce
We hosted an event at Etail West in partnership with the team from Huddl, a group of expert retail executives keenly focused on banding retailers together for shared learnings to explore just such a topic, What Is the Future of Ecommerce? Sincere thanks to Shilo Jones, Director of Ecommerce for Destination Lighting, Nathan Decker, Director of Ecommerce for evo.com and Roy Steves, founder of Statbid for producing the event.
On display we had 3D Makerbot feverishly printing keychain prototypes from Evo.com, retailers touring their virtual reality with Oculus Rift, and some smooth voice-ordered tunes pumping from Amazon Echo. Cordial jumped into the device gauntlet with our own connected (IoT) device with an wifi enabled microprocessor the size of a postage stamp strapped to an indoor basketball hoop integrated to the Cordial API with an SDK to log baskets in our behavioral analytics dashboards. We effectively mimicked a shopping cart abandonment scenario where the first basket made started a ‘session event’ and the Cordial platform listened for concurrent activity in the basket for some period of time. If Cordial’s event listeners didn’t collect a ‘add to basket event’ in a few minutes, we would trigger a real-time event triggered message. Device sensors like these are capable of logging additional context for events and behaviors with timestamps, geo, device, humidity, weather, etc. Yeah, super nerdy but we see a future where marketers fully benefit from merging web and mobile app behaviors with signals collected in real-time directly from consumer devices, connected wearables and in-store connected shopping experiences. Click here to learn more about Cordial’s event data and analytics.
We had some fascinating conversations at the event with retail executives contemplating what the next few decades of ecommerce holds for marketers and consumers and how technology will help or hurt some of the ways in which we aim to create better marketplaces for us humans. I wonder what the nomads in Mad Max of year 2215 would find amongst the rubble and what would they think about the culture of our humanity? What would they make of a Virtual Reality headset, a 3D printer, a baseball bat with a sensor that measured swing speed….
Nathan Decker, Director of Ecommerce of evo.com commented on how dependent we’ve become in our modern society on technology. “Innovation creeps into our lives little by little and before we know it we look back and realize how differently we are affected. One of my coworkers forgot his phone at eTail. It was a solid reminder of how important technological change is to our lives.” Yeah, I’ve been there myself, and as a guy who eeks as much as I can out of my phones, updating my 4s to iOS 9.1.2 has all but bricked my phone, guess it’s time for an upgrade….another future remnant for the year 2215.
Decker notes technology advances are contributing to positive disruption across the globe in various industries, “technology is empowering people to start businesses, improve lives, make things easier, simpler, more cost effective. Some people have said innovation is slowing but I’m with Bill Gates. Have you taken an Uber, closed on a home loan and used e-signature services, listened to Pandora or watched Netflix? My neighbor works at home for a startup named Karat that takes one small aspect of hiring – the interview process – and crowdsources it. Drones are affecting entertainment. It’s everywhere.”
Shilo Jones, Director of Ecommerce from Destination Lighting shared with me how he sees beacon technology helping marketers optimize event the flow of traffic in a physical retail location, citing Scott Perry, VP of Digital for Jerome’s Furniture. “Jerome’s Furniture was discussing how they worked with Google to get beacons in all of their stores, now they essentially have a heat map of the traffic in his stores. He can see where there are cold spots from a merchandising perspective. He can also see how effective his Google Adwords are at driving traffic to his stores. I’m excited about applying this tech to our own showroom floors.” We’ve seen in applying beacons technology to a multi-channel messaging approach where testing and optimization is mission critical. Applying multivariate testing in an in-store shopping experience is the best way to stay competitive and keep brick and mortar and shopping malls for that matter alive for the future. Now I know why I spent $5 G’s at Jerome’s a few years back….they’ve got my number.
Roy Steves, Founder & Adwords Optimization Expert from Statbid expressed sentiments on how ecommerce is evolving and what’s to come. “E-commerce isn’t that old, but there are plenty of corners of the industry that are acting like old money, failing to innovate, and simply relying on their positions as large incumbents. You have to respect Amazon for trying crazy things, and this keeps them from falling for the same narcissistic trap that Sears, K-mart, and even Walmart ran into in the past 15 years. Mostly. But the marketplace doesn’t stop moving, and every time it does, the fact that I think I can adapt more quickly than my competitors becomes competitive advantage. Non-Amazon e-commerce revenue is growing year over year for a reason. We are positioned to take advantage of that audience. Current e-comm professionals are like surfers, looking at the perfect oncoming swell. We’re in the right place, at the right time, with the right equipment. Let’s ride!”
Let’s ride indeed! At Cordial, we’re passionate about helping retailers shift their business faster than they ever have before with scalable tech. If your key take-aways from Etail West were to do something different in 2016, to toss out old ESP RFP templates and nail down what you can change now, how you can implement, learn, test, fail, optimize in real-time, we want to chat with you. Hope you are fully rehydrated from the show and have a head full of steam.
That’s all for now, stay tuned for a more in-depth fireside chat session on the Future of Ecommerce with the team from Huddl.works.