eCommerce Expo 2015 review - Day 1

The Peoplevox team had a fantastic time at eCommerce Expo 2015 at Olympia London on 30th September to 1st October. As if the array of exhibitors wasn't enough to get any budding eCommerce business excited, the talks and panel discussions were just fantastic.

If you weren't able to attend this year's event, or perhaps you missed out on a couple of the talks, we're putting together our highlights from both days right here on our blog. First up, what we enjoyed about Day 1.

Suzanne Miglucci, ChannelAdvisor

The morning got off to an exciting start with a talk by Suzanne Miglucci, ChannelAdvisor, on the topic of '5 changes in consumer behaviour that are impacting eCommerce'. What better way can there be to start a presentation off than with a Game of Thrones-esque animation about eCommerce?

The comparison was fitting considering the competitive nature of eCommerce and all the kingdoms businesses fighting for supremacy. The leaders - Amazon, Google, Apple, Facebook, and Alibaba - were being marked on their value in the 5 'battlefields' of eCommerce: Mobile, Social, Zero Friction, Value, and Cross-border Trade.

Here are the facts about each battlefield:

Mobile

  • Mobile traffic is growing by 40% year over year but people are simply not converting.
  • There are more android phones in use than Apple phones, however more people make purchases on Apple devices than on android.
  • Google is on its way to becoming a marketplace so now is the time to get your Product Listing Ads (PLAs) sorted so you're not left behind when it happens.

Social

  • The average customer looks at their phone 220 time per day.
  • Facebook and WhatsApp are leading the way in social and you should ignore their influence in eCommerce at your peril.
  • Social buying is all about flash sales - bear this in mind for when the 'Buy Button' comes into its own.

Zero Friction

  • We've entered the age of Uber. This is great because we can have a car waiting for us within 5 minutes of pressing a button. The problem is that this makes us want everything else so quickly and eCommerce retailers must rise to meet this demand.
  • More than 2000 financial institutions are supporting Apple Pay which means it is not something to be sniffed at. It will likely grow in popularity as more people seek easier ways to pay.
  • Focus on the last mile is becoming ever important. With services like Instacart and Washio in the US, customers are demanding super-convenient methods of delivery and the battle is on to be the first retailer that can offer up a winning solution.
  • More and more retailers are offering a Buy Online PickUp in Store (BOPUS) option, allowing them to use the store as a warehouse.

Value

  • Millennials (18-34 year olds) love to use sites like Jet.com and Groupon for the chance of a good deal.
  • Despite only launching earlier this year and limited only to the US, Jet.com has already become ChannelAdvisor's 4th largest marketplace.

Cross-border Trade

  • Consumers are becoming increasingly more confident to shop online.
  • Between 2014 and 2018, the cross-border trade shopping population is expected to grow by 29%.
  • In the same time-frame, the cross-border trade online shopping spend is expected to increase by 111%.
  • If you're hoping to get into the international market in the future, Suzanne hinted at a possibility that AliExpress (of the Alibaba Group) may open their doors to non-Chinese retailers who want to sell globally.

Jean-Marc Noel, Trusted Shops

After Suzanne's talk, it was a quick dash over to the eCommerce and Omni-channel theatre to catch Jean-Marc Noel of Trusted Shops give his presentation on 'Trust at home and abroad'. With more than 25,000 clients using Trusted Shops, there is no doubt that they know a thing or two about how to keep customers coming back to your website.

According to Jean-Marc, there are three trust signals that customers generally tend to loom for before making a purchase on a website:

  • Customer reviews
  • Trustmark awards
  • Payment security (money-back guarantee)

If you haven't got these three somewhere on your site, bearing in mind that a trust mark award generally comes from signing up to sites like Trusted Shops, then it's definitely something to work on. At the very least, you should have customer reviews on your site, but more than this you should be responding to them, too. Especially the negative ones. As such, it is important that you use a forum for your reviews that allows you to reply, showing the customer that their complaint has been heard and will be addressed.

Ian Scarr, SLI Systems

Staying in the same theatre, the next speaker that was a particular highlight of the eCommerce Expo was Ian Scarr from SLI Systems. Ian's talk was based around '8 key strategies to optimise conversion rates', and here they are:

1. Good search functions

10% of customers use search, and navigation contributes to 60% of a site's revenue. As a result, you do not want to be churning out the old 'zero results' page when a customer does a search. Ideally you would want a rick auto-complete feature which not only creates a drop down box to show potential searches based on the letters already typed, but also shows popular products.

2. Relevant results

This is a pretty simple one. If a customer searches for 'black dress', don't bring up a list that includes dresses in blue and red, too. Along that same thread, having refinements in your search pages is vital for making your results incredibly relevant to what the customer is looking for.

3. Misspellings and synonyms

Closely linked to the good search functions point, if a customer searches for 'indigo jeans' the worst thing you can do is show the 'no results found' page. The ideal solution is to have smart algorithms that can identify what a customer means when they make a mistake or use a less common term. In this example, you would show a list of all your blue jeans, as blue is a synonym of indigo.

4. Optimise mobile

It's no secret that mobile traffic is growing incredibly fast and what you should be aiming for is a mobile site that is really easy for the customer to use. The less typing they have to do the better, and the fewer clicks they have to make the less likely they are to give up and check out a competitor's site instead.

5. Understanding and control

We've been saying this for a while but the world has no heard it enough yet - as an online retailer you have reams of data at your disposal and if you're not going to use it then what is the point in trying to compete? With this data you can see what people are searching for and identify trends. For example, in the summers a retailer of pharmaceuticals may see a lot of searches for hay fever tablets. They can use this information to put a banner on their website offering a discount on hay fever tablets before people have even started looking for them.

6. Product recommendations

Over 75% of Amazon's homepage is dedicated to a range of product recommendations.

'Customers also bought...'

'Complete the look with...'

That alone should tell you just how influential product recommendations can be, particularly during seasonal periods. For instance, if Sarah buys a woollen hat in November, it may be wise to show her the matching scarf and gloves.

[Related: Replicating Amazon's fulfilment]

7. Test, test, and test again

You may think your site has a pretty decent conversion rate as it is but making small changes and noting the impact it makes can be the difference between a decent conversion rate and a damn fine one. Good things to play around with are whether a persistent search bar is better or worse, using infinite scroll or pagination, or displaying your products as a list or in a grid.

8. User-generated SEO

We all know the value of SEO but not everyone is doing it right. Features like SLI System's Site Champion boost traffic by optimising long tail key terms based on the activities of your site's visitors.

Alex Podopryhora, M2E Limited

Next on the agenda was a talk on 'Selling across multiple channels made easy' by M2E Limited's Alex Podopryhora. He started his presentation by talking about eBay and the 5 things that eBay sellers want:

  • Incremental customers
  • Global reach
  • Sales velocity
  • Easy integration
  • Brand building

eBay currently has 155m active users and 25m active sellers. A ladies handbag is bought via mobile every 11 seconds, 30% of sales come via mobile, and 60% of eBay is international. Knowing all of this, it is no surprise why so many retailers choose to sell their products on eBay. Not only do they get access to those 155m users, it is an easier entrance to global fulfilment.

Naturally eBay is a great channel to use but the other big marketplace is not to be ignored. More than 44% of world wide purchases from Amazon are made from 3rd party sellers, and there is a 70% increase year over year of Fulfilled by Amazon (FBA) users. What is interesting to note is that only 30% of shoppers click past the first page of results, so if your products are not on that page then you'll want to make changes to get them there.

[Related: Is Amazon Seller Central right for you?]

So how should you start to go multichannel?

Well, imagine you have 1 product to sell. That product requires a stock number, title, description, and a photo etc. Magento, eBay and Amazon all require different information for a listing so that needs to be taken into account.

Now multiply that one product by a thousand and the process of keeping track of them all gets considerably harder. As such, the wisest thing to do when selling across multiple channels is to use a piece of software that helps you manage your marketplaces.

Panel discussion

Day 1 of eCommerce Expo 2015 ended with a panel session discussion 'Low-cost internationalisation: How expanding through your digital footprint can bring success for omni-channel retailers'. Chairing the talk was Judith McElhinney from UKTI, and the panellists were Oliver Platts (Johnstons of Elgin), Paul Goldstein (Google), and Bianca Mercer (Aurora).

The best way to relay this panel discussion is to summarise the key points in each panellist's response to the questions asked.

How should you research & prioritise international operations?

Paul Goldstein

  • Use your data. Whether you use Google Analytics or another analytics tool, you cannot let that data of to waste.
  • It may well be that international markets are already finding you - your analytics will be able to tell you this - so that is a great way to know which countries to target.
  • Use the Google tools available:
    • Google Market Finder searches around the world for the products that you sell.
    • Google Translate allows you to translate your keywords and web content. It is recommended that you use a local translator for your website, however, as they will be more familiar with the cultural nuances.

Bianca Mercer

  • Look into the opportunity within the country that you're planning to target and consider how mature the market is.
  • Another important consideration is the culture fit and brand awareness.

Oliver Platts

  • Don't get bowled over by emerging markets - find your own place that is right for your product.
  • Be sure to use other people's data. There is plenty of research and statistics out there to make use of and, like your own data, that should not be wasted.

Judith McElhinney

  • Data should be at the centre of every decision you make.

For companies with an existing international footprint, how can they leverage that?

Bianca Mercer

  • Use your stores to drive online sales. You can do this by methods of data capture at till points.

Paul Goldstein

  • A report on the value of omni-channel shoppers showed that they are worth 30% more than other shoppers. That is important information to take on board.
  • Linking your stores, as Bianca said, with the website is vital and you can use mobile to do this with Product Listing Ads (PLAs)

Oliver Platts

  • There are embassies and consulates out there to help you. They won't be able to do everything, but they can facilitate meetings within the countries you are planning to enter, making them a good starting point.

Internationalising your website is time-consuming and expensive, and it may not even work. How can you test its success?

Oliver Platts

  • Start by converting your landing pages and shipping details into other languages.
  • The rest can stay in English as most of the actions should be cross-culturally understandable. For instance, we all know that the picture of the shopping basket will take you to the checkout.

Bianca Mercer

  • You don't have to localise everything from the get go.
  • Open up your shipping, have a customer services team that can answer questions in other languages, and use international marketplaces. Establish a presence and then work on the localisation.

Paul Goldstein

  • Your international marketplaces are key, such as Alibaba and Flipkart.
  • When looking into these marketplaces, consider these questions:
    • Is it right for your product?
    • Does is target the right location?
    • Do you want your brand tied to this kind of marketplace?

Judith McElhinney

  • Nine out of the fifteen top visited sites are marketplaces, which says a great deal and reinforces the points made by the panellists.

What challenges might companies face going international and what advice would you give?

Oliver Platts

  • Understand the pricing structure
  • Do your research and physically go out to see the market
  • Be strong in your strong markets

Bianca Mercer

  • Have your house in order first. If your logistics are not strong at home then don't try to take them abroad.
  • Plan everything and take your time.
  • Take everyone in the company on the journey because if internationalising is just a side project then it won't work.

Paul Goldstein

  • Tailor your marketing and messaging to suit the new culture.
  • Think about all the cultural differences and how to use them, rather than ignore them.

End of day 1

And so day one of eCommerce Expo 2015 was over. Stay tuned for our review of Day 2 coming soon.

Want to know more about the part Peoplevox played at eCommerce Expo 2015? Get in touch today.