Retailers, manufacturers and industry professionals gathered in Chicago for the third Home Improvement eRetailer Summit. Held Nov. 7-9, the event was designed to allow attendees to gain information and insights on e-commerce opportunities while also fostering new relationships through a variety of networking opportunities.
Topics presented at the summit ranged from standing out online in the age of Amazon and understanding new internet sales tax laws. Attendees also learned more about working with internet influencers and using short online content to create an authentic relationship with customers.
The event included presentations from several speakers, including experts from Groupon, The Grommet, and other retail platforms. The event also offered two different panel discussions with speakers from companies that have made their mark online and DIY bloggers. The first panel discussion was focused exclusively on how to create authentic content and utilize online influencers to grow business and increase sales.
Focusing on the Future of Retail
With insights and advice from more than 16 speakers, many attendees noted the similar sentiments that came from the presentations. One in particular was that while some have painted the brick-and-mortar business model as struggling, there is much evidence to refute that claim. In fact, digitally native companies like Warby Parker and Amazon are even beginning to roll out brick-and-mortar locations.
Steven Dennis, founder and president of SageBerry Consulting, was one of the event’s speakers. His presentation focused on how retailers can reinvent the the traditional retail roadmap to survive and thrive in the age of Amazon.
According to Dennis, brands must differentiate from competitors with value and convenience or a through a premium, experiential offering. For most retailers, trying to out-Amazon Amazon is not an option. Dennis encouraged retailers to focus on the essentials of a remarkable retail experience instead. He encourages companies to be digitally enabled and human-centered by creating an emotional connection with the consumer, and focus on providing a single brand through many channels, from brick-and-mortar to online shopping.
Laura Heller, director of external communications for Performix, spoke about the trends shaping e-commerce today.
According to Heller, technology is helping empower retailers to create their own version of physical and digital commerce. Retailers aren’t just selling technology; they are innovating with it and developing their own tech solutions to better connect to customers.
Online sales of home improvement products grew in double digits over the past year. Sales of home improvement products online in the U.S. increased 34 percent in 2017, reaching nearly $20 billion, Heller says.
Some of the greatest trends occurring in the retail industry is the focus on convenience for the customer, Heller notes. Some examples she offered were Amazon opening cashierless Amazon Go stores, which enable customers get in, make a purchase, and leave quickly. Other retailers utilizing technology are Nordstrom and Nordstrom Rack, which have begun utilizing mobile scan-and-pay registers around stores to help alleviate long lines during busy shopping periods.
Voice-enabled devices are also making an impact in retail. In fact, Heller cited data from Google that showed 20 percent of searches are now done by voice. Heller says the statistics show that by 2020, 50 percent of all searches will be made by voice.
“Cutting-edge retail trends are often happening first in Asia,” Heller says. “Pay attention to those trends and learn from those early adopters.”