ICYMI: Catalyst Day 2 – The Story of a Red Dress

March 7, 2017

We got an early start here in Nashville today. A 7 a.m. breakfast time meant the coffee was flowing freely as people geared up for a long but action-packed day.

First up on the Catalyst stage: ChannelAdvisor CEO David Spitz. In an intro video which followed a red dress from the factory spool to the shopping bag, attendees watched the item travel through the incredibly complicated e-commerce ecosystem, from marketplaces to social platforms to brick and mortar stores.

David made his grand entrance carrying the dress, along with a pair of Snapchat Spectacles in tow. After live-snapping his entrance on stage (which you can still see for a few more hours on our Snapchat story!) and giving away pairs of Spectacles to a few lucky audience members, David dove right into the good stuff: The state of the e-commerce industry.

He covered a tremendous amount of ground over the course of an hour, and there’s no way to regurgitate all the statistics, analysis and insight he walked everyone through. The focus of the keynote, however, broke down five general areas of importance for retailers and brands planning for the future:

  • The growing market share of e-commerce. In 2016, e-commerce was a $1.9 trillion dollar industry, and it’s projected to grow to $4 trillion by 2020.
  • Mobile as a disrupter. Mobile continues to disrupt the traditional buying cycles of consumers and the online strategies of sellers. E-commerce giant Alibaba reported that two-thirds of its revenue last year came from mobile.
  • Amazon’s continued growth and influence. Amazon accounts for $0.55 of every dollar in e-commerce growth, driving 40% of all e-commerce in the United States.
  • The evolution of brands. Brands are still scrambling to adapt to e-commerce, with varying levels of success. Success will come from blazing new trails.
  • Logistics: “The next major battlefield.”
    Consumers have been conditioned to expect fast, efficient delivery. Determining a fulfillment strategy
    is becoming the most important thing you can do when selling online.

ChannelAdvisor Spring Updates

David’s session wrapped up with some exciting news: the biggest single expansion to our product suite since our start back in 2001. Keep your ears to the ground for the full, official Spring Expanded Product Suite announcement later this month. For now, though, we’ll give you the CliffsNotes version…

Product Content Optimization: Our new Product Content Optimization (PCO) technology transforms and enhances the quality of your product content, wherever you want to send it. The platform automates content distribution and product data syndication across retailers, ad networks and other destinations.

ChannelAdvisor Fulfillment Network: This exciting functionality helps retailers and brands as they navigate “the next major battlefield” by supporting integrations with major shipping label providers and fulfillment carriers, including Amazon Seller Fulfilled Prime, FedEx, UPS and the USPS.

Amazon Competitive Environment Dashboard: Sellers can now better understand the competitive landscape, learn where they may be losing market share and gain actionable insights to help them identify growth opportunities — all in one dashboard.

Vendor Drop Ship: With new drop ship platform capabilities, vendors can streamline the order fulfillment process to ensure that customers have a consistent and positive experience with retailers selling their products.

Algorithmic Repricer for eBay: Just like the Algorithmic Repricers for Amazon, Walmart and Jet, the Algorithmic Repricer for eBay reprices products to help sellers stay competitive and gain visibility by winning one of the three listings “above the fold.”

Ultimately, these updates are just the most recent steps in our ongoing mission to connect and optimize the world’s commerce, and we’re extremely excited about what the future has in store.

The remainder of today’s keynotes mirrored three of the major pillars of the e-commerce landscape: social media, logistics and marketplaces.

“Market to people, not devices”

First up after David was Khurrum Malik, head of North America product marketing at Facebook. Khurrum’s session focused on the buzzword of the year — mobile. His argument was that we’re moving toward a “mobile first” world, reinforcing what emerged as one of the major themes of the day.

Mobile may drive purchases, but Khurrum emphasized that it’s so much more than that. It’s the ultimate driver of awareness, influencing sales at all points of the customer journey.  

And he reminded the audience that ultimately, we have to “market to people, not devices.”

If we had to pick out a few key takeaways for retailers and brands of the future, we’d say:

  1. Minimize friction on the path to purchase
  2. Adapt your tactics to mobile
  3. Market to people, not devices
  4. Be locally relevant
  5. Drive loyalty with your app
  6. Measure cross-everything

Easy enough, right?

Following Khurrum’s keynote address, FedEx Ground CEO and President Henry Maier addressed the current state of the logistics, supply chains and how e-commerce is taking all of it and turning it on its head. E-commerce has created the immediate need for companies to streamline supply chains — a process that looks way easier than it is (“It’s incredibly complex.”). But Henry was quick to remind us FedEx has the legacy, infrastructure and foresight to handle it.

And while he acknowledged the pressure that Amazon is creating in the logistics space, Henry said that FedEx doesn’t consider them their direct competitors.

“The world’s inventory at their fingertips.”

After a full day of breakout sessions, Goo Goo clusters and plenty of exchanged business cards, attendees filed into the grand ballroom one last time, this time to hear from Bob Kubpens, VP of seller experience and global trust at eBay.

Bob’s keynote, titled “The Evolution of Marketplaces,” was all about the future of shopping. Or better yet, how marketplaces are the future of retail due to their trustworthiness, their unmatched product selection and ultimately, their predictability.

The audience was also reminded of the threat of what Bob called the “culture of sameness” is impending. It’s creeping in, and we don’t like that. People like self-expression and that’s the beauty of marketplaces.

Now we’re off to the iconic Wild Horse Saloon for a little bit of line dancing and a whole lot of honky-tonkin’ at the Catalyst Party presented by our title sponsors, eBay. We’ll see you tomorrow!