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Our team was in Chicago last week for IRCE, the world’s largest ecommerce event. This massive show included over 600 exhibitors as well as speakers from Wikipedia and eBay. One of the big topics of the week was the weather, the very wet, rainy weather –besides that, the team came back with some great insights.

There was a lot of talk about the global growth of ecommerce, the hurdles retailers face with international expansion as well as specific regional insights. I’m sure there will be a lot of ink spilled on these topics in the coming months (perhaps on this very blog as well) but for today, I wanted to focus on some tidbits we picked up from a couple of our favorite sessions.

Lessons from the Internet Retailer Second 500

Hosted by Stefany Zarban, the Associate Director of Research at Internet Retailer, this session focused on distinguishing features of the Second 500. Stefany discussed specific insights and case studies that could guide and inspire smaller ecommerce operations to push their business to the next level.

Zarban spoke about how it is getting harder to compete online, that the big are getting bigger and getting noticed is more difficult. Updates to gmail inboxes, the new costs of Product Listing Ads and the ever changing search algorithms are tough to stay on top of, making it harder than ever to get in front of the customer. On top of that Amazons growing market share is raising customer expectations for things like lightening fast shipping making it more and more difficult to impress your customers and make a lasting impression.

But it’s not all bad news said Zarban, there is still room for a great idea. In fact, 94% of the second 500 saw an increase in sales and growth in industries like Apparel & Accessories, Food & Drug and Office Supplies outpaced that of the IR 500.

Zarban shared that many of the fastest growing companies in the second 500 are investing time (and money) in social media and paid search. She also mentioned that only 10% of the second 500 have a mobile app, responsive design is the way to go.

Editor’s note:  We couldn’t agree more. In fact, our friends at Demac Media have taught us that you need an app if you’re going to use the camera or map function of a device – otherwise, a well-designed responsive site can likely fit your requirements

Stefany shared the three secrets of success for a fast growing Ecommerce retailer …

Be Different. Be an Expert.Be Cool.

Her examples included

  • Plated.com – who grew their food delivery business by building social media elements into their business from the ground up
  • Chalkfly.com – whose focus on encouraging referrals has allowed them to compete against big box retailers
  • Greats.com – focused on mens shoes, experts in this niche from manufacturing to delivery (free delivery and returns don’t hurt)

How the Video Experience is Transforming the Way People Shop

Sukhinder Singh Cassidy, the chairman and founder of Joyus shared why video is no longer the exclusive domain of large retailers with big budgets.

78% of your customers watch at least one video a week and many retailers are considering including product videos in their marketing mix, especially as production becomes more accessible and affordable. Here are a few tips we picked up from Joyus on creating product videos– as well as how to measure their impact:

  • You don’t need product videos for everything – chose your heros
  • Choose unique products and emerging brands – not ones that can be easily purchased from competitors
  • Include only 1-4 products in a video –single product videos outperform
  • Build a story, not a commercial – it is the art of selling special
  • Show your best products at the start of the video

How to measure product video ROI

  • RPV is Revenue per View – a good one might be $0.05 – $2.00 per view
  • VVCR is video view conversion rate – range is normally 0.5% – 5%

The above are our key takeaways from just two of many (many) sessions at the conference. We would absolutely recommend the show to a retailer looking to succeed in Ecommerce and were particularly impressed with the amount of content that was relevant to mid-sized retailers.

Unsurprisingly, the keynote from Jimmy Wales, founder of Wikipedia, was a huge draw – he spoke about the power of community in the online world. While he gave some great insights for marketers the most impactful part of his presentation was probably his mention of Wikipedia Zero, an initiative of the Wikimedia Foundation to enable mobile access, free of data charges to Wikipedia in developing countries. We’ll end our wrap up of IRCE with a video he shared.

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