eTail West, recently held in Palm Springs CA, had the highest retailer attendance in it’s 10 year history, and a optimistic outlook on the future.
Four full days of key notes, retailer presentations and panel discussions saw strong insights and experiences presented across key themes such as multichannel, search, email, mobile, social, analytics, customer acquisition and retention etc.
One insight I gained from the conference about the state of the US retail industry when it comes to multichannel retailing was not from what was said, but from the change in who was exhibiting…and how that had changed over previous years.
In previous years the show was dominated by vendors of core solutions. This year search and rich media vendors were thin on the ground; analytics vendors were absent completely. Was it they were falling on tough times? No, it was that in a conference focusing on the future, the new sale opportunities for core vendors changes.
An exhibition hall is like match-making dance for singles. Where buyer meets seller and start a relationship. In the case of multichannel retailing in the US Retailers are all now customers of these core solutions; they are already in a relationship. So the vendors who made up the exhibition hall this year were new and emerging solutions, tackling future changes in technology and customer behaviour.
The message from this was clear, the basics had been done…and the focus was on newer channels (mobile and social), better returns in existing channels through measurement and analysis (attribution, customer life time value), better targeting (remarketing, customer segmentation) and personalization. These were reflected the key themes and talks of the conference also; with an overwhelming, and I believe well justified, emphasis on mobile.