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The State of eCommerce & Digital | Recapping the 2018 eTail East Experience

There is a lot of noise at conferences and trade shows. This is especially true in a space seeing as much growth and innovation as eCommerce and digital technology.

With an array of technology solutions, press, investors, and brands, both classic and high growth digitally native, one can get a pretty good picture of where the industry is at from a trade show like eTail East. This year at eTail’s east coast conference there was a lot to learn and gleam from those who attended and the major themes that continued to pop up throughout the week.

There were 4 major trends that were consistent amongst both large established brands and Digitally Native eCommerce 2.0 companies.

1. Creating stronger and more powerful digital experiences; Engaging customers in more authentic and personalized ways

2. Understanding the audience and having a unified view of customer relationships; Building the correct digital and social marketing stack, understanding CRM & loyalty

3. Using data more effectively; personalization & eCommerce opportunities with AI

4. What omnichannel truly means today for brands and retailers; Figuring out the right relationship between eCommerce and brick & mortarWhile at eTail, I was able to speak on a panel about “Shoppable Custom Branded Content As A Consumer Engagement Vehicle” with a set of really great marketers. And while the panel’s title is a bit of mouthful, where we spent most of our time on stage was discussing some of the core issues and challenges sitting in front of marketers today—Especially eCommerce and digital marketers, and how top brands are tackling them.

“How do you consistently build high quality content and brand experiences that are both engaging at a human level AND also drive a tangible ROI?”

On the best of days, content marketing is hard, today it can often feel impossible. In a world where nearly everything we do as marketers can be measured and quantified, there is a natural combativeness between the creative license to create content that elicits an emotion response and “feels good” and the need to map everything to a hard ROI.

Creating content that is both engaging and high converting is the sweet spot we are all aspiring to. In listening to my fellow panelists, I found a few great pieces of feedback and tips to help navigate towards content that is both shoppable, personalized, and engaging:

Craig Kailow- Senior Director, Integrated Marketing, Rue Gilt Groupe Rue Gilt Group has operated on a business model that revolved around testing. Over the years, testing and measuring the results of marketing efforts and the impact on customer behavior has proven that customers want to engage with a brand that they feel connected to. Creating a strong brand voice and encouraging customers to be a part of it has been a proven element of their success.

Edward Bourelly- Director of Marketing, New Era Cap Company After trying just about every classic marketing play, Bourelly found that the most effective tool was simply to let creative process work by focusing on the customer. New Era found that by listening to the customers conversations on social, they were able to arrive at better content that helped them be viewed as more authentic and cool. The rest came naturally.

Caroline Culberston- Director of Marketing, Betabrand For Betabrand, customers shape the brand. By allowing customers to submit designs and crowdfund ideas, customers are truly in control of the branding of the products that they sport. This sense of community enables customers to feel a sense of ownership and eagerness to share. Betabrand has mastered the customer engagement lifecycle by encouraging collaboration and content contribution every step of the way.  

Andrew Higgins
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