Business > Merchant Voice

Highlights from the Internet Retailer Conference

I recently attended the Internet Retailer Conference in Chicago and it was a terrific show. If you are able to attend only one show per year, I highly recommend going to this one and if you are not able to get to any shows because you are too involved in your business you need to find a way to get there. This is the 3rd time I’ve attended this conference and I have learned alot and turned the connections I’ve met into friends as well as opportunities to grow my business.

The keynote speaker was Imran Jooma, head of Sears ecommerce program. Jooma provided an interesting look into the present and future ecommerce initiatives from Sears. The work being done there will raise the bar for everyone in the ecommerce arena. Sears has also launched into the merchant marketplace, which Amazon has been doing successfully for years.

In addition to the speakers and breakout sessions, the exhibit hall was brimming with over 400 companies exhibiting. Below is a list of exhibitors that I found particularly interesting:

Affliliate Marketing – ShareASale
I think that everyone is familiar with the big players in this space: Commission Junction, Linkshare and Google. However several of my colleagues have told me that they are pleased with the results they have gotten from ShareASale. They have been around since 2000 and cater to smaller sized merchants.

Comparison Shopping Sites – SingleFeed, WinBuyer, Your Store Wizards
If you are not providing any feeds out to shopping engines, you should start now. Because there is no cost involved for listings or conversions, Google is the obvious place to start.

There are only four accredited Google Product Search Partners and SingleFeed is one of them. They can help you optimize, categorize and submit your feeds to Google and many other engines.

WinBuyer is a shopping portal and it also provides competitive pricing comparisons on your own site. While this may sound counter intuitive, if you believe your pricing is the lowest on the web and you want to prove it, your customers will not have to click away to see your competitors prices. A piece of code inserted on your product page will show prices for competitors that you choose.

Specializing in Yahoo store development, Your Store Wizards is a feed provider as well as specialists in custom design, search engine optimization and Google Analytics tracking. They support feeds to over 200 engines and are continually adding more.

Email Marketing, Data Mining & Warehousing – Bronto, Top Right
Focused on ROI, Bronto provides email marketing solutions at different levels depending on your needs. I was not able to spend much time here however in talking to colleagues, they were highly recommended and worth checking out.

Top Right is an email marketing support system that helps to manage your house list, segment your customers and automate campaigns based on preset criteria. It allows you to target customers based on their areas of interest and to send the right promotion to the right customer.

Internet Security – BuySafe, Verisign
BuySafe is a 3rd party endorsement and guarantee of reliability and stability. They offer a free bonded service and a guarantee service that is performance based.

Versign, which is now owned by Symantec (parent company of Norton Antivirus), provides the “Versign Secured” seal on certain browsers and on your site. It helps to increase conversion rates by instilling trust into first time shoppers.

Search Engine Optimization – Exclusive Concepts
Exclusive Concepts offers SEO strategies including organic SEO & link building, pay per click management, email management and content writing. They also offer conversion boosting services both in the cart and throughout the site.

Shopping Portal Management – Channel Advisor, Mercent
One of the big opportunities is in outside shopping portals. The big players are of course eBay and the Amazon marketplace. However there are new players jumping into this space and carving our their share of the market. recently launched and so did Sears. Walmart is jumping into the game as well as New Egg and others as well. Integrators and channel managers such as Channel Advisor and Mercent help to effectively optimize and manage these marketplaces for you.

Channel Advisor has been a leader in the eBay space for years. They also offer paid search, comparison shopping feeds, custom storefronts and rich media. Mercent was founded by ex-Amazon veterans and they are one of the few Amazon certified integrators. Like Channel Advisor, Mercent also offers shopping feeds, price optimization software and social media product promotion.

Web Design – EY Studios
Specializing in web design for Yahoo stores, EY Studios provides custom graphics, brand strategy and website programming for both large and small companies.

In closing, even if you did not attend the Internet Retailer conference, hopefully this summary provides you with some insight as to which companies are standing out amongst their competition in a crowded landscape.

Ken Kikkawa
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