Top 10 Takeaways from the 2014 Summit

October 10, 2014

Last week, thousands of retailers gathered in Seattle for the 2014 Summit. Over three

days, conference sessions covered topics such as retail strategy, e-commerce, digital marketing, 2014consumer behaviour — and lots, lots more. If you couldn’t make it (or even if you did), we’ve rounded up some of our top takeaways for retailers.

  1. Omnichannel is getting smarter. In the kickoff keynote session, executives from the outdoor company REI shared some interesting stats about the store’s shoppers. For example, 75% of customers who made purchases in store also visited the REI website or mobile app. REI even offers free Wi-Fi in its stores to encourage shoppers to research and browse products online. And they do — REI’s app is the most-visited site by REI in-store shoppers.

  2. Build your brand via your customers. Websites Birchbox, Houzz and Zulily each have a compelling, unique and memorable brand. But all three have one thing in common: deep customer relationships. Birchbox tailors its communications with individual shoppers to introduce them to beauty products they’d like. Houzz opened a marketplace because its users were clamoring for one. And Zulily essentially launches a new website each morning, with a new variety of curated products. Bottom line: If you’re searching for your brand’s story, look no further than your customers.

  3. Weave a rope of small advantages. Brad Stone, author of The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon, shared insights into Amazon’s founding and continued success. One of his points that stuck was Amazon’s emphasis on small and constant innovations. If your company doesn’t have a single, standout advantage in your industry, keep creating small ones. They eventually add up.

  4. Going cross-border? Start slowly. International online selling should start with baby steps. In most developing countries, marketplaces are playing a large role in e-commerce growth. Most important when you’re starting out? Logistics like shipping, legal and taxes. A fully translated local website in every region should be one of your last tasks.

  5. Focus on what you do best. When it comes to the scope of your business, more isn’t necessarily better, says Michael Rubin, founder and CEO of Kynetic. Successful companies zoom in on what they’re good at, and in doing so differentiate themselves in the market. Rubin’s point was made even stronger given the big news that day: the separation of eBay and PayPal.

  6. Experiment on Amazon. In a talk titled “How I Stopped Worrying and Learned to Love Amazon,” Dale Edman of The Wasserstrom Company stressed how easy it was to get up and running on Amazon (his company had been selling on eBay first). His advice for new sellers: Experiment (it’s hard to predict which products will sell well — he was surprised that bulky cutting boards were popular) and take advantage of fulfilmentby Amazon (FBA).

  7. Headlines rule in SEO. Yeah, we all love to hate Buzzfeed. But we can learn a lot from the site’s attention-grabbing headlines. Spend time crafting headlines on your website — they’ll encourage clicks and boost SEO. Make your headlines remarkable, so that they’ll generate interest in and of themselves.

  8. Marketplaces are eating the e-commerce world. ChannelAdvisor CEO Scot Wingo’s session on marketplaces painted a picture of the breadth and depth of global marketplaces. Speakers from MercadoLivre and Alibaba shed light on the rapidly growing e-commerce markets in Brazil and China, respectively. And with 90% of online sales in China occurring through marketplaces, it looks like the US has some big footsteps to follow in the coming years.

  9. When you think social, think mobile. With so many smartphone users accessing social media via their mobile devices, social and mobile should be closely linked. Consider Google Plus: When users search for, say, “coffee” on their phones in a new location, local Google Plus listings pop up in the results (instead of those bigger national coffee chains). More food for thought: Mobile users spend 24% of their mobile time on Facebook. That’s huge.

  10. It’s a great time to be in e-commerce. This takeaway sounds like a throwaway, but it’s true. We heard from Marc Lore, founder of soon-to-be-released marketplace Jet — if you sell online, you’re going to want to remember his name. Plus, Alibaba offered lots of insights into its e-commerce opportunity following its recent IPO. Add to the mix new digital marketing developments like Yahoo Gemini and Google Local Inventory Ads, and, well, we’re only scratching the surface.


Blog post by Leanne Link, ChannelAdvisor Global Copyeditor

Craving more e-commerce tips? You’ll find 16 more in this eBook, 16 Things You Wish You’d Known When You Started Selling Online.