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5 Takeaways From IRCE 2019

5 Takeaways From IRCE 2019The year of content has passed. That doesn’t mean it’s not still a priority, it just means that other areas are starting to require more attention. The adoption of omnichannel, the creation of unique and memorable purchasing experiences, and the creation and delivery of content in the best way possible.

This year’s IRCE saw all of these topics, and more, touched upon in informative sessions that provided merchants with actionable takeaways. From these sessions, we’ve collected the most insightful and useful learns of the year.

If you didn’t manage to attend this year’s IRCE but still want to know what was being talked about, and how ecommerce is evolving, keep reading.  

Omnichannel Is Making Waves

Omnichannel is here and it’s here to stay. Not only has 2019 already seen an increase in the number of stores adopting new channels, it’s also seen a large number of them doing it successfully.

For many stores, executing an effective omnichannel strategy means finding and targeting customers in the best, most efficient way possible. To do this, retailers need to find customers where they are at each stage of their journey. 

In a survey of 1,600 consumers, 29% said they browse items online before shopping in person. For brick and mortar shops, making the transition to ecommerce means making themselves present during both the awareness and decision stages of the buyer’s journey. 

The importance of digital in omnichannel delivery is further supported by two takeaways from Gartner: 

  1. 80% of buyers use digital information during each stage of their journey.
  2. 61% of buyers visit a supplier’s website at least once during their journey. 

Hibbett Sports, a brick and mortar retailer that operates more than 1,000 stores, talked about how they managed to launch an online store smoothly by waiting until others had already done so. Two of their main takeaways included the importance of categories for allowing consumers easy access to products, and speeding up fulfilment to ensure the omnichannel journey still appeals to consumer immediacy needs. 

Site Speed Is Important 

A statistic thrown around this year was that a 3 second delay in page load time leads to a 53% loss in mobile visitors. Previously, we mentioned that a 1 second delay in page load can lead to a 7% reduction in conversions. 

The importance of site speed is real and it’s only growing. 

And it’s not just in terms of visitor numbers or conversions. Multiple SEO experts at IRCE talked about three SEO tactics that don’t require ad spend. They were almost always backlinks, content, and speed

  Experience ecommerce hosting optimized for site speed automatically. Learn more

Not sure how to test site speed? Simple. There are three main tools that can help.

  • Google PageSpeed Insights
  • Google, Mobile-Friendly Test
  • Lighthouse (built into Chrome)

Each of these tools have their own testing parameters and can help site owners to optimize specific areas. We recommend getting started with Lighthouse.

Experience Is Everything

Susan Tynan of Framebridge said: “Don’t nickel and dime your way to an experience where the customer says ‘meh’.”

That was really the theme of this year’s IRCE. The customer experience is important: provide one that will make you and your brand stand out. Doing so won’t only lead to a clearer brand image, but also increase conversions. 

For Digital Commerce 360, optimizing the purchasing experience was one of the easiest ways to do this. At the top of their list was simplifying the signup and checkout process, with an 88% increase in conversion rate, followed by providing better product information, with an 84% increase. 

Other speakers also spoke about optimizing the purchasing experience, with each touching on the importance of efficiency and speed. Wrapped up in this experience is the fulfilment experience. As was discussed heavily during this year’s Meet Magento Australia, Shipping and Logistics are a top priority.  For many ecommerce businesses, one of the biggest divides between businesses is their ability to deliver on customer expectations of immediacy. 

As Andy Dunn of Bonobos said “It will be less about delivering inventory and more about delivering an experience”. That experience is one of immediacy.

And it’s not just the purchasing experience itself which is important. DevaCurl talked about how they have created a community of authentic brand representatives as opposed to transactional influencers. Together, they generate over 500 organic posts every day and contribute to the unique experience that they’re able to share with their customers. 

B2B Ecommerce Is Big But Merchants Need to Improve

The US Census Bureau shows that between 2006 to 2016, the percentage of US manufacturing delivered through digital channels rose by 34%. That trend looks set to continue. 

In one report provided by Paul Demery, 35% of manufacturers and 40% of distributors planned to increase ecommerce spending by 10-25% within the next year. 

But while B2B ecommerce is a big market, a lot of suppliers are not providing the experiences their clients expect. In fact, one statistic from IRCE mentioned that 20% of B2B digital users dropped a supplier after having a poor website experience. 

Part of the reason for this is omnichannel expectations held by clients. Gartner, in one of their surveys, talked about how 33% of B2B buyers would not make a purchase online unless they spoke with a sales rep

Despite this discrepancy, many B2B businesses understand that it is present. One report even stated that streamlining the customer buying journey is top of the list in terms of priority for most B2B businesses. It will be interesting to see how businesses solve this problem in the coming months. 

Content Is King

For years content has been praised as the most effective resource for ecommerce marketers, and been placed at the forefront of talks and presentations. For years, new channels, new metrics, and new guidelines have been published by marketers, business owners, and retail experts; all with the aim of providing a clear framework on how to implement a successful content marketing strategy. 

This year, content didn’t find itself at front and center. Instead, it found itself circling almost every talk and every topic in brief mentions and clear references. 

Talks on experience focused on providing consistent and clear messaging, with one statistic stating that 74% of customers are frustrated by irrelevant messaging. Talks on influencers discussed how authenticity was the most important attribute of content. Talks on businesses development talked about nailing your value proposition through your content, with guarantees of conversion increases. 

Overall, the biggest takeaway from this year in terms of content was that its still big, it’s still important, and it’s still one of the most significant parts of any marketing strategy. However, it’s also different across different channels and for different brands. 

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