The countdown is over!
After what felt like ages, Catalyst 2017 is finally in full swing here in Nashville, Tennessee. Starting this afternoon, hundreds of people poured into the iconic Music City Center ready to hear from and meet some of the most influential minds in the e-commerce industry (and maybe taste some of the best sour mash and bourbon whiskey Tennessee has to offer, but more on that later).
Start Your Engines: Autocommerce 2017
Retailers from the automotive and powersports world gathered together for our annual pre-Catalyst event focused on key e-commerce strategies in the evolving automotive space.
This year, Tracie Nunez, of the newly rebranded Custom Auto Network, shared some insight on the current state of the automotive industry — where it’s going and what retailers need to be doing to meet consumer expectations. All members of the industry, from manufacturers to retailers, walked away from Tracie’s session with actionable objectives to ensure continued growth in what’s projected to be a $8.9 billion market this year.
In addition to Tracie, Sara Waters from Google and Valerie Anders from ChannelAdvisor broke down the immense opportunity that lies in digital marketing for the automotive industry. With 1.75B parts and service searches in 2016 and +21% year over year search volume, Sara and Valerie emphasized the need for automotive retailers to focus efforts on quality product data to make sure their products are getting in front of the people that are searching for them.
“Merchandising Started It, Media Followed…” — A Fireside Chat With Martha Stewart
For the majority of attendees, Catalyst officially kicked off with a fireside chat with the one and only Martha Stewart. As anyone who has ever put on an apron knows, Martha Stewart is much more than a good hostess and savvy entrepreneur. She’s an iconic brand — one that spans multiple generations and across almost every medium.
Martha walked onstage to Snoop Dogg’s classic anthem “Gin and Juice” (a Catalyst first, as far as we know), and she sat down with ChannelAdvisor CEO David Spitz to discuss a variety of topics: her genesis in publishing, her numerous business commodities, Amazon, how she maintains the consistency of her brand and, of course, a few anecdotes about her newest business partner, Snoop (with whom she has a cooking show on VH1).
There were plenty of takeaways for the retailers and brands in the audience, but the moral of her story can probably be boiled down to authenticity and reliability, which she considers the most important factors in building a brand. Consumers are smart, and their continued loyalty is based on their experience with your brand, she said. “Satisfaction is the key to any continuity program.”
She and David touched on their shared appreciation of Amazon, the future of pop-up showrooms and Martha’s favorite social media platforms.
In the end, she’s succeeded at creating an enduring, iconic brand by embracing technology as it develops. From traditional media, to books, social platforms and blogs. And even being an early “guinea pig” for Facebook Live (her personal favorite these days).
Bourbon and Bullriding: A Match Made in Nashville
After the session with Martha and David, attendees got their first taste of the Catalyst Pavilion, where we ate everything from fresh ceviche to “wafflettas.”
Lined by a ring of e-commerce sponsor booths, the Pavilion provided a great opportunity for friends old and new to socialize, sample local whiskey and bob their heads to an amazing, Nashville-approved country playlist.
They also had the opportunity to ride a mechanical bull, if they felt so inclined.
Bourbon tasting and bull riding: Never an advised combination, but it ended up being the perfect kickoff for what’s sure to be a lively two and a half days ahead. That’s all for now, but be sure to come back tomorrow for more live updates from Music City!
And if you can’t wait, add us on Snapchat (username: ChannelAdvisor) to get a constant live stream of all of the goings-on here at Catalyst!