ICYMI: Catalyst Day 3, Part 1

April 13, 2016

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The third and final morning of Catalyst started off buzzing with chatter about last night’s party at Drai’s Nightclub and Lounge presented by eBay. Attendees filed into the ballroom early this morning, spotting themselves in pictures getting down on the dance floor and meeting our very special guest: “Britney Spears”!

Is this the real Britney? We'll never tell!
Is this the real Britney? We’ll never tell!

Fireside Chat with Google

This morning’s keynotes kicked off with a fireside chat with Vineet Buch, director of product management for Shopping Search at Google, and ChannelAdvisor’s own Link Walls. Link and Vineet wasted no time and jumped right into the topic at hand: mobile commerce.

Last year was a big year for tech, and the m-commerce industry in particular. Vineet was quick to bring up the same fact that David mentioned yesterday in his keynote: 2015 marked the first year that mobile traffic exceeded desktop and tablet. And Google isn’t getting left behind.

Consumers these days want a seamless user experience that allows them to effortlessly scroll through a PLA without having to click through to another page to buy. They want to be able to make a frictionless transaction.

So what’s Google been doing to stay on the front lines of the mobile revolution? Tons. For one, tweaking its mobile site to make it easier to use and view images. The company also launched Purchases on Google. Consumers can now go through the entire shopping experience directly on Google. From reading reviews to making a purchase, Google is seeking to eliminate the transaction friction that often prevents shoppers from completing a purchase.

Vineet said that one out of every four consumers are turning to YouTube for gift ideas and research, and Google isn’t ignoring the opportunity to tap into that market. Google is working on  incorporating shoppable ads into videos, along with the masthead and banner ads already on the site.

Another common theme of Link and Vineet’s chat was the importance of dynamic, quality product data. Vineet sums it up: “The better the product image, the better conversion rates — it’s just a no brainer.”

Vineet and Link finished up by touching on the new Google Manufacturer Center and remarketing lists for search ads (RLSA).

According to Vineet, the Manufacturer Center is a great first step in Google’s growing focus on branded manufacturers. It offers brands product-level data for their various campaigns.

Link and Vineet also touched on Google’s Remarketing Lists for Search Ads (RLSA), which advertisers are using to increase sales and ROI. You can use consumers’ Google activity to better target them and serve more strategic ads. As you might remember, David mentioned in his keynote that a highlight of ChannelAdvisor’s forthcoming Spring Release is full support for Google RLSA.

Jason Goldberg Keynote: Solving the Mobile Gap

Next up was the “Retail Geek” himself, Jason Goldberg, Senior Vice President of commerce and content practice at Razorfish.

Jason hosts an e-commerce podcast with Scot Wingo, ChannelAdvisor co-founder and executive chairman (and a pretty knowledgable retail geek in his own right).

Jason’s mission for today was simple: “Make Scot Wingo wrong.” The two had recently had a friendly argument about whether mobile conversions will increase soon. Scot says no. Jason says yes.

Mobile is popular, but the conversion rate is still lacking – a phenomenon Jason calls the “mobile gap.” Shoppers are about a third as likely to purchase on mobile than on desktop, even though time spent on mobile devices exceeded that on desktops last year.

Why then, are mobile conversions lagging? Jason attributes this gap to three key issues:

  • The “Moneyball” problem: “Conversion” isn’t a great stat, Jason says. Retailers aren’t looking at the right data. They’re looking at ”vanity stats” (just as Billy Beane said that baseball scouts had been missing the stats that mattered).
  • The lack of cross-device attribution: Most of us still use “last click attribution” models, and it usually indicates that mobile wasn’t the last click before conversion. But it was still an important click. It worked. The consumers might have just logged onto a desktop to make the purchase. If you use a more thorough attribution model, that shows multiple r touchpoints, you’ll have a better feel for what value mobile is actually having (“multi-touch attribution”).
  • Payment friction: The amount of attention we can devote on mobile is way less than on a desktop. We’ve all been there, and we all know how much of a pain having to enter credit card and shipping details on a mobile screen can be. Wallet integrations are great, but Jason warns against “NASCARing” your checkout page. His solution? Pop up a wallet logo only when a customer has a cookie on their device for that particular payment option.

With such a large portion of mobile conversion issues rooting back to user experience, responsive design is a seemingly obvious solution. Jason, however, was quick to criticize responsive design for its subjectivity. What constitutes a “responsive design” to a business owner could be completely different for a computer engineer. Instead, Jason suggests shifting focus to client-side adaption, server-side adaption and hybrid adaption.

We couldn’t have asked for a better way to kick-start the morning. Now onto the final breakout sessions and the last keynote of the conference: Amazon.

That’s all for now, folks! We’ll be back later to keep you in the loop about this afternoon’s activities.