The Internet Retailer Conference and Exhibition (IRCE) is the largest e-commerce event in the world. IRCE 2011 hit San Diego this week with full force. 7500 conventioneers and more than 500 exhibitors invaded the Gas Lamp District to rally around e-commerce. Special Guest Speaker Arianna Huffington, Co-Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Huffington Post (which recently sold to AOL for $315 million) led a tremendous roster of speakers and presenters. Huffington confirmed to the crowd that "self expression has become the new entertainment"and that there has been "an explosion of creativity and expression". She explained the importance of transparency and immediacy in today's hyper-connected consumers. According to Huffington content today must be"real time, social and engaging". She clarified that customers today are becoming more selective, they are no longer surfing thousands of sites, but going to a select few. She quoted Craig Newmark from Craig's List "trust is the new black".
Click 4 pix: IRCE 2011
Jack Love publisher of Internet Retailer magazine, organizer of the event said that both the news media and the retail industry are going through a "revolution". In 2010 On-line media accounted for 13.5% of all ad spending while making up 8.5% of all retail sales...and increase from around 2% of sales in 2000. e-bay's North American head man, Christopher Payne shared that among e-bay's $62 billion in sales, a pair of shoes was purchased every 3 seconds in 2010.
Key take homes: Multi Channel retailing is unquestionably the wave of the future. According to Walgreen's President of e-commerce Sona Chawla multi-channel customers are 3x more valuable than regular customers. Walgreen Co. opened their first store in 1901 and has 7500 brick and mortar stores..and recently purchase DrugStores.com to increase their e-commerce portfolio. To compete today a retailer must be local, digital and mobile. The digital retail channel is growing 5x faster than traditional retail. The social media impact on retailing is unclear as retailers attempt to leverage the social graphs of their customers to maximize sales and create trust. Many believe that social media will transform shopping allowing consumers to "share the experience". Facebook will attempt to become a force in retail, look for f-commerce coming soon. Friends can provide a "trusted" recommendation and "purchase validation". Women dominate social media as approximately 70% of likes and shares on FB are from the ladies. Speed is important, customers want their on-line purchases faster. e-commerce and commerce are blurring into one. It took the i-pod almost 3 years to sell 1 million units, the i-pad sold more than 10 million units in less than one year.
On the exhibition floor IRCE attendees mingled with models and were showered with tons of swag. Affliate marketers, call center solutions, catalogers, CRM system operators, data management services, shippers, e-commerce platforms, e-mailers, fulfillment providers, logistics specialists, merchant services SEO experts and more passed out free stuff like it was .....free.
IRCE 2011 was an enlightening look into the future of retail. Thanks to technology the shopping experience is changing rapidly across the globe. To sum it up in 140 characters or less... People are buying cars on their phones.
See the pix, click IRCE 2011