/ 4 Online Retail Lessons from eTail West

This year’s eTail West was a whirlwind of personalization, customer centricity, multichannel campaigns, and rock-paper-scissors (more on that later). Here are four items I took away from my week in Palm Springs:

  • Social Media Tracking Still Hurts

Sorry to start with the negative. As a marketer who works with retailers, this one hit home for me.

There are so many opportunities out there for retailers with social media, but tracking the campaigns and measuring ROI is incredibly difficult. Case and point—I tweeted about Blue Lemon (@blue_lemon), one of my favorite restaurants back at the Domo main office (not an e-tail joint, but the principle is the same). Within an hour, I had a few tweets back from them and a coupon to make my next meal free at the nearest location.

In the face of such sterling social media citizenship, I was thrilled to retweet and laud the grandeur and intelligence of a business that just blew my socks off with social media. But how on earth is a restaurant, a retailer, an e-tailer, or anyone supposed to track the goodwill and branding that I as a customer was spreading? What impact did their free meal for me really have on their overall business?

Tough to track a direct correlation, but it got plenty of word-of-mouth marketing for them, and it brought me back into an establishment I hadn’t frequented in several months.

  • Anyone Can Go Toe to Toe with the Big Guys

Maybe you can’t beat ‘em, but at least you don’t have to sell off and join ‘em, either. It takes the right team and the right technology, but small e-tailers can pick up a piece of 2013’s $252 billion industry. That’s a lot of dough to go around, and you can have some of it—if you’re willing to do the work.

Clearly there are other online retailers out there with household URLs, and you might not be one of them. That doesn’t mean you can’t get business from those households. It takes the right kind of data, analysis, and targeted messaging, but you can get there. In fact, that leads into the third item:

  • The Customer Is King—Always Has Been, Always Will Be

Before you roll your eyes at how obvious this is, know that last week’s conference really showed me that it’s actually not obvious at all. You have a lot of cares on your plate, from fulfillment to operations to HR and beyond. There comes a point where the customer fades into the background as you tackle myriad issues that clutter the scene.

Stay relevant. Stay focused on the customer. That relevance and focus is what will ultimately draw them to you and build a solid customer base for you.

Remember this: When we treat customers like kings, they won’t let us become paupers. They’ll come back to us again and again and again, because we meet their needs and make the experience worth whatever price they’re going to pay.

  • Online Retailers Are Slammed with Data Sources

On average, e-tailers are using more than seven systems to track business metrics. You need every system you have, but it becomes a struggle to turn massive amounts of data into information that is digestible and useful to make fast, accurate decisions.

This one stood out to me like a bright red light; it validates that what we do at Domo is relevant and provides the experience that our clients need.

About that Rock-Paper-Scissors Thing…

Josh James used to do this a lot as CEO of Omniture, and now he’s brought the magic back with Domo. At lunch during the conference, more than 1,000 e-tailers were on their feet competing in a massive rock-paper-scissor challenge.

The prize? An all-expenses paid shopping trip to Dubai. Dubai.

Were you at eTail West? What did you get out of the conference? Let’s chat in the comments!