To steal a slide from @johngerzma, Keynote Speaker at the Bazaarvoice Summit...Technology, by the numbers, is quite fascinating:
But what does this mean for eRetailers and more importantly, how do they adapt in a changing, growing, and chaotic world? We sat down with 10-15 eRetail mavens in Austin, TX and moderated a discussion as they teased out innovative strategies and nagging challenges, and spoke to the future of ecommerce.
Here's what we heard.
Multichannel Woes, Opportunities, and Whoopsies
With the likes of Dell, Cabelas, Best Buy, Sterling Jewelers, and other large multichannel folks, this topic got people talking.
The Woes: Today's collective consumers are an army of experts. With limitless data available, the days of store associates being armed with more information than consumers are over. The question then becomes, as one person put it, how can we arm our store associates with technology that will bridge the gap? Is it educational apps, sales iPads with guided selling tools, or is it possible that the effort won't equal the benefit?
The opportunities: At the end of the day, it comes down to a singular view of the consumer. One tactic is to collect email at checkout, and offer the opportunity to review their purchase or return them to the digital experience.
The Whoopsies: In the moment of a big purchase, i.e. expensive jewelry, a lot is going through your head, right? Receipt via email, the cashier asks? You nod without thinking about joint email accounts or one that you and your significant other both have eyeballs on...whoopsie!
Talk about a good way to spoil a surprise.
Algorithms shaping our world.
When we rethink the role of math in terms of ecommerce, many objections can be put forth. One attendee from Best Buy put forth this Ted talk from Kevin Slavin: "How Algorithms Shape Our World".
In it, he contends we're living in a world powered by algorithms. He gives an example of Netflix: an algorithm deemed "Pragmatic Chaos" determines 60% of which movies are rented at any given time.
And so if personalization of an ecommerce site is driven algorithmically, the question becomes how to do it right, as one person asked.
Tactic #1 -- Give "Adult Supervision" to your algorithms. In the aforementioned Ted talk, Kevin Slavin gives the example of an Amazon product, a book about flies, which had a starting price of over 1 million dollars. A week later, it was at 23 million. Two conflicting algorithms had mysteriously combined to convince each other that a book was worth its weight in... well maybe 100 times its weight in gold.
Applying that to personalization: Understand which algorithms are performing well on which pages. Transparency into this data will help provide the supervision it takes to make for a good experience.
Tactic #2 -- It's not all about algorithms. Your team knows a lot about your shopper and the business. No algorithm in the world is good enough to "personalize" a site experience on its own. Layer on rules and customize your personalization platform to reflect both human and mathematical intelligence.
Tactic #3 -- A one size fits one model. A personalization strategy is unique for each business. Different algorithms perform better on certain pages, best practices work in some industries and not others, and shoppers respond differently depending on your site. Therefore, whether internal or through a third party, choose an approach that allows for flexibility and change over time.
The Social Sphere
We understand by now: the social sphere presents huge opportunity. Harnessing that opportunity is a bit more difficult. Engagement, as we heard, seems to be a major goal of most social channels. Dell, Lowes, and Best Buy seemed to understand that the goal of social touchpoints is different than KPIs we've grown accustomed to.
As folks from Cabelas explained, unique content strategies even need to be considered. For example, fans don't want to see a product video of a Remington 12-gauge shotgun on a Facebook page, but they'll watch a how-to that explains the best techniques to clean a gun. Perhaps they'll eventually buy, but many retailers are in the dark on how to connect the dots and measure.
Aside from a few interesting stats (such as conversion rates are 200% higher for folks who've submitted a review), social metrics are puzzling at best.
The Badge for Innovation in the Social Sphere goes to Lowes: A Facebook giveaway that lasted two weeks with non-stop commenting. How? The prize was given to the "last commenter." Every time a comment was made, the hour long clock was reset. Last person standing, won!
And so with that roundup, we're on to NYC on May 10th for the next stop in the roundtable series. Hope you'll have a chance to join or check out our recap!