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Ignite – An ecommerce Conference Recap

As brands and retail organizations continue to evolve how they think about ecommerce, the sharing of ideas on how to address this evolution is more relevant than ever. At a recent conference, Ignite – The ecommerce Leadership Conference, industry leaders from across retail joined to learn ways to think differently and continue to challenge the way business has always been done. Informative, collaborative, and thought-provoking, this day-long conference powered by Syndigo left me with a few key takeaways. 

Discomfort Drives Innovation

Sterling Hawkins of the Center for Advancing Retail Technology kicked off the morning with a keynote expanding on the opportunity that comes with innovation and the mindset needed to embrace it. He challenged those in attendance to embrace the discomfort that comes with the unknown rather than avoiding what could be seen as dangerous if undertaken without success. I found particularly interesting how our body responds to embracing stress and discomfort. Hawkins said when we are under stress and embrace it, our brain makes new connections, allowing us to get through the discomfort. This opportunity for exponential growth that we’re all seeking is disconnected from the linear growth we sometimes accept, he noted, but by putting our industry knowledge into action, breakthroughs are possible. 

Don’t Forget Performance

As the industry has evolved, companies are chasing new technology and new data but sometimes forget to tie it to business performance. DeLu Jackson, VP of Precision Marketing at ConAgra Brands noted this rabbit hole that sometimes comes to the forefront during the quest for innovation. The key insight I took from his presentation revolved around the need for innovation to have pace and be perpetual. That means viewing innovation as a constant state and addressing it quickly. Once pace and perpetual are in place, Jackson said, new innovation is more of an edit to operating processes rather than something huge people have grasp. Subsequently, Tyson Foods’ Jim Madigan, VP of eBusiness, cautioned that while data is awesome, we also have to use our consumer mindsets and not get lost in the analysis. These reminders to utilize technology and data while also tying it to real performance and activity are important.

Consumers Drive Content Needs

Content is job #1 when it comes to ecommerce. That is the most notable nugget I took from Medigan. He elaborated on this assertion by observing that encompassed in that job is the need to call products what people call them rather than what the company names them. Dianna Fernicola, ecommerce Content Operations Lead with Unilever, used an example to illustrate this. She talked about the Dove Beauty Bar. While she said it sounds like a great product from a marketing perspective, if shoppers are going to the ecommerce website and searching for soap, they aren’t finding what they are looking for. Naming conventions are one component but undersanding changes to shopping environments is another. Madigan brought up eCategory Merchandising to revisit the different ways consumers shop in an online environment. In the store, deli meat can be found hand-cut in the deli area and also on pegs in the cold cuts section. Online, when a consumer searches for deli meat, there’s no physical space segmenting their choices. eCategory Merchandising would address this condensing of traditional categories. 

In an industry and retail environment where the chaos of change sometimes becomes overwhelming, these insights are a reminder to embrace discomfort, continue to drive performance, and think like a consumer. No matter what technology or programs come into view on the road ahead, focusing on these mindsets will help as we continue to lead ecommerce into the future. 

Why do I work at AWG? “I value the opportunity to work with family businesses. My dad owned his own business for 35 years, so it is what I know and cherish. Plus, I love food, so thinking about it everyday is a huge plus.” -Kate