Last month we had the opportunity to attend and sponsor eTail East 2019, one of the largest retail conferences in the US, right in our backyard of Boston. The conference drew in more than 1,300 attendees and 175+ speakers sharing their thoughts on trends in the ever-changing retail industry.
The quality of speakers and sessions is really what puts eTail East ahead of other conferences, but the huge selection of sessions made it hard to decide what to attend! Thankfully, we had flagged a few favorite eTail sessions ahead of time – and they didn’t disappoint. After attending these sessions, speaking with other attendees, and hosting an awesome networking event at a Red Sox game, we had a few interesting observations from the event. Here are our four top takeaways from eTail East 2019.
1. Retailers prioritize acquisition, but they’re not ignoring customer loyalty
Let’s get this out of the way – acquisition and growing your customer base is hugely important. It’s challenging, the landscape is changing, and new strategies continue to be available for testing. However, marketing encompasses much more than acquisition, and retailers need to nurture and prioritize their existing customer base. Many of the retail marketers that we spoke with at our Red Sox networking event said that customer loyalty and retention is equally as important to them, but unfortunately it’s not a topic that is discussed enough at conferences and events.
2. "Omnichannel" is the buzzword of choice
eTail East is described as the “The eCommerce and Omnichannel Conference,” so it’s no surprise that half of the keynotes at eTail East had the word “omni-channel” in their title. We don’t have the data on how many times it was mentioned during the track sessions – but believe us when we say that it’s certainly a hot discussion topic.
The sheer number of marketing and sales channels available makes it difficult for retailers to create a superior omnichannel experience, especially one that is still personalized. Retailers like Sugarfina and Burton spoke about how they start with a clear brand story to help provide a consistent experience to customers. Their argument was that a strong brand can be translated across different channels and mediums, allowing customer to connect with the brand wherever they are.
3. CDPs are the new tech on the block
QuickPivot wasn’t the only customer data platform (CDP) vendor in attendance at eTail East, and it’s for good reason. The use cases for CDPs, such as personalization, customer centricity, data analytics, prescriptive and predictive analytics, and omnichannel marketing, are all top of mind for retail marketers.
There’s a lot of hype around CDPs, because the idea of marketers having all customer data points accessible for personalized marketing was previously considered to be nothing more than a dream. These days, some brands are turning their dreams into reality.
4. Consumer expectations of retailers are being raised because of other markets
Remember the days of aimlessly roaming around Blockbuster looking for a movie to watch on a Saturday night? These days, consumers can watch a movie without ever leaving their couch, and Netflix seems to know us better than we know ourselves. Although watching a movie, or finding a TV show to binge on seemingly has nothing to do with shopping for a pair of pants, research shows that consumers are taking in the experiences they have across all parts of their lives, and placing those expectations on every brand they interact with.
For retailers, this means that you're no longer just competing against other retailers in your category. You're competing against the biggest, brightest and smartest brands that your consumers are interacting with. It's daunting - but part of the fun is staying ahead of the curve!
We had a great time at eTail East 2019. If you attended the event, comment below to tell us what you thought of the event!
Next up in our travel itinerary is the NEMOA Fall Conference in Chicago from September 11 – 13. We hope to see you there!