Mei Huang is Senior Director eCommerce at J.Crew in New York. A business problem solver, a marketing strategist and a technologist at heart, Mei’s sweet spot is the gritty intersection between business and engineering. Find her on LinkedIn This is her first guest post. We’re thankful for her time.
In late September I attended ThinkShopper, a Google invite-only event at their Chelsea NYC HQ. The attendees were Fortune 500 retail marketers who came together to discuss new digital tactics and marketing ideas on Google services as well as emerging retail digital trends.
I walked away feeling extremely energized by both Google’s leadership in digital marketing as well as the innovation coming out of mobile and video. It’s always a nice treat for any in-house marketers to be able to leave the office for a day and get out to absorb what’s happening in the industry. Keeps us fresh.
There were many great speakers but some of my personal favorites were;
Wells Fargo’s Matt Nemer spoke about “The Amazon Effect.” Matt shared the “Wall Street” view of how they see consumers in retail marketing and what businesses should think about to stay on trend with technology. The focus of his talk was on how Amazon has dominated so many key retail categories and is an unstoppable bullet. If you are a retailer and are not watching and studying Amazon’s every move- you really should.
The 2012 Think Retail Livestream is not available but I found last year’s clip that I’m sure you’ll find riveting.
Google’s Digital Marketing Evangelist Avinash Kaushik, spoke about “The Art and Science of Scaling Digital Marketing.” Avinash is treated like a god (I’m not religious but I can’t find a better noun) in analytics and generally in the digital marketing arena. It was so enlightening to hear what he had to say. He focused on three core principles: a) influence b) experience and c) value. For me, his best quote was: “You will never master influence if your experience sucks.”
Simplistic right? He then went on to show several examples of both good and poor user experience. He then tied the experience back to the influence a brand can or cannot have on a consumer’s decision to spend (economic value). Proflowers.com’s mobile experience received lavish kudos. Conversely, One Kings Lane was criticized heavily for its excessive acquisition pop-ups (with no “x” to close the darn window) before you even get to see the homepage. In Avinash’s words, “requiring an email address on a first visit is like trying to sleep with someone on the first date.”
David Bell of The Wharton School spoke about “Location is (Still) Everything: Geography’s Impact on Digital Shopping.” I love the fact Google brought a professor to the event. Scientific and a research-based approach to understanding digital marketing is very refreshing Even better he looks like a rock star from some cool band.
I actually had to stop tweeting in order to fully digest his talk! This was not some marketing fluff. It was quantitative research data on location marketing. Ironic as the Apple ios6 debacle regarding Google Maps has been playing itself out in the press too.
- Customer acceptance of online retail depends on offline shopping costs. Just think about it for a second. The interplay of offline pricing and online conversion.Sales evolution is structural and predictable.
- Social contagion from community and observation affects online demand evolution. His finding suggests that there are “neighborhood effects” with Internet buying. In other words, location still matters in Internet retail, but it is the location of one set of customers relative to another set of customers and to offline options that can have a huge impact on online demand.
- Migrating from “good” to “great” requires expansion to niche locations. Professor Bell suggests that physical vs. psychological distance to stores and product availability has a marked impact on customers. Internet retailers can benefit from serving sparse pockets of geographically diverse customers or what he also refers to as the spatial “long-tail.”
Professor Bell is actually coming out with a new book soon. In the meantime, you can read all about his research papers here.
And the best part of the day?
Well free swag of course!
I was able to use a mobile phone and QR code scan to select my gifts. Ever practical, I picked the iPad cover and the ear plugs.
On the way out, I was given a book written by Google called “ZMOT Handbook.” ZMOT means Zero Moment of Truth. I can’t wait to read all about Google’s point of view on the evolution of the shopper. Also, check out this Google site for the latest and coolest digital marketing campaigns.
Trust you found this post useful and interesting. For more skinny of the intersection of retail and digital, follow me on twitter: @meihuang
<As a tasty visualization, the good folks at Column Five Media recently published this great Infographic on “The Future of Retail. Real tasty>