At the Shop.org Summit in Seattle this week, retailers focused on the issues that they face as they continue to defend against threats to their growth from online-only etailers and the changing environment and behaviors of their digital consumer. One keynote, which included CEOs from Birchbox, Houzz and Zulily, highlighted the success these online retail disruptors have had as they attack the traditional brick and mortar business model.
Walking around the show floor, and listening to these disruptors, certain themes emerge, reflecting the ongoing struggle traditional retailers have as they try to keep up with the digital age. While it is clear some are thinking about building leading technology products, others continue to treat digital as an IT function that follows the general course of business.
1. Mobile - With the amazing amount of time consumers are spending on mobile devices, it's clear that retailers are still trying to figure out how to best leverage the millions of devices that customers own. From mobile payments to omni-channel campaigns to apps, the strategies for capturing mindshare and purchases from a consumer's phone are emerging. For some attending, monumental changes will be required to adopt the technologies that connect phones to the shopping and checkout process in-store.
2. Social - While the Expo floor had a number of vendors that claim to socially enable ecommerce, most of them focused around analytics and personalization, as opposed to purchasing from social platforms. The notion of social selling was practically non-existent in keynotes and in the exhibit hall. The introduction of Twiiter's and Facebook's Buy buttons seemed to be barely a whisper in the crowd, while "omni-channel" selling was all the rage.
3. Analytics - While most retailers would tell you they live and breathe their analytics, and are highly advanced in their capacity to analyze customer data, the one thing that is clear is that the knowledge is still not being applied to enhance consumers' online and mobile shopping experiences to the degree it is with native digital retailers. Zulily's CEO stated that every day they publish a new site, and each visitor sees a home page that's customized for them. I am pretty certain that I have never gotten a customized home page when visiting Nordstrom.com or jcrew.com, despite the fact I shop there often.