The Ecommerce Futures Conference - Online Lifestyle Retail on 24th September 2014 was held in Haymarket Hotel which I always love mainly due to it's close proximity to the fabulous St James Park but also due to it's more intimate feel, perfect for a smaller conference. Here's 5 things I took away from the conference which was designed to look at customer retention and engagement because I do like taking notes and hearing words like ROI (check the PR Dictionary for definitions) and Google Analytics a fair bit!
1) Selfies Are Here To Stay
Kate Ancketill CEO of GDR Creative Intelligence talked about the increasing use of selfies within the marketing mix for brands. Retailers are beginning to tap into the rise of selfies and integrated feeds into their websites for example Sephora and Urban Outfitters have used this concept to encourage sharing and a way in which people can enter competitions. Which means something very simple - we're buying into selfies, whether we're uploading our own to buy into a brand or clicking through to buy through selfies, they're not just a passing fad.
This isn't the first time we've seen brands using normal images and photo sharing to create a community. Burberry created their 'Art of the Trench' campaign years ago - but rather than the rough cut selfie which are gathered together through hashtags, these are more professional in their look and feel. You're not going to get any old picture featured here. But the rise of the need for brands to create their online community coupled with the increasing interest that customers have in their own image and self promotion through selfies seem to co-exist happily in the land of social media where through sharing with brands and brands making consumers feel special and validated, brands can happily work together. So we're obsessed with our own everyday images and ourselves to the point where they have actually become selling tools.
2) We're Going Au Naturale
Well, well, well, who would have thought it, the more high tech we get, the more we are seeking out normal. When selling online, it has always been a struggle to give the same level of customer service online. It has also seemed that we seek out external third party reviews before purchasing - and those 'real reviews from real people' carry a lot more weight than those obvious ones which seem biased or written by robots. Kate's presentation pointed towards retailers developing software to pull in different pieces of information from different sources within the retailers website integrate reviews, and blogger write ups and it will learn as it goes. She referenced Fluid XPS's work with Northface where they have worked together over 8 years on their customer service and want to offer natural results to natural questions - it's like we respond better to humans - well artificial humans I guess. But I am happy that real reviews seemingly carry more weight that ones which seem fake. In the same way Trip Advisor with their real reviews is winning a very simple game - honesty and integrity should be at the core of your strategy.
3) Minority Report is Child's Play
Also noted in Kate's presentation was a nod to the increasing level of technology in the home. The Amazon Wand or Dash user guide, which allows you to scan barcodes of items in the home which you have nearly run out of, is narrated by a child. Accepting more advanced tech in the home is crucial to removing any barriers to purchase. Using a child to narrate this easy, simplistic system removes any worries that the system may be too complicated. Hey, if a child can do it, surely the adults can! We are becoming more relaxed with this slow creeping of technology, advancing with stealth, trialled and then introduced. I spotted self scanning in Tesco the other day. Once you're used to scanning, will Tesco be encouraging you to scan in your home? Will they eventually just know your usage rate and in the future send out a loaf of bread every four days to be delivered by a drone?
4) Google Knows What You Did Last Summer
Brogan Savage of Cath Kidston gave a fantastic presentation which was part customer journey and part comedienne. She pointed out the wealth of information Google was storing through your browsing history in a slide entitled 'Are You Expecting or Do You Just Like Collecting Dinosaur Soft Toys' marking out that the search engine can now differentiate between someone might just be looking for a soft toy as a present, and someone who might be searching for a soft toy for their new born child. Just by tracking if you were looking for a soft toy and had recently been looking for a pushchair, they would then possibly target you to see an advert on childcare while you were browsing the Guardian sports page. Clever huh? Creepy huh? Careful what you search!
5) Write Like You're Writing For A Book
Kiyan Foroughi CEO of Boticca said that you should 'write content as if you are writing for a book.' This sounds really simple but for any fellow creatives out there, you know when you've done a good job on a piece, and you also know when you've run out of time and you're tempted to rush it, use simple language, skip the research, omit the links. His message was the long way is the only way as he also admitted personally emailed 500 of his top customers and asking 'why do you keep coming back?'. Simple and clever. He also talked about internal marketing teams and how when the teams were all separate there was a 'lot of drama and tension, very Beverley Hills 90210' so he fused the content team with PR & Marketing teams. These hybrid roles are becoming increasingly common. Everyone needs to be able to play a few different instruments and have a few stings to their bow. But don't be tempted to shortcut, it just isn't worth the paper it's written on.
Read next: NAKED FEATURE - Who Owns Your Images?