Last week, Marseille made a great digital move: the first e-commerce conference was held in one of the most amazing place of this harbor ‘Le Pharo’ (picture coming soon). That one day conference was organized by Hervé Bourdon @valvert and Jacques Froissant @Altaide_JF under the name of SHAKE14. It gathered actors from different perspectives, solution providers, consulting, retailers, merchants, investors… and some shining names of the digital intelligentsia (@catbarba, @momboisse, @HerveKabla, @carlosdiaz, @manueldiaz, @oliviermathiot , …). That event had some remarkable merits, such as, high quality speaker, relevant content (from technical to marketing), constructive spirit (avoiding complain, promoting solutions and positive attitude), innovation oriented. And I probably missed some others, provided the smile that all participants had during the entire day. What did I learn on e-commerce ? Well, a lot !
Shake your soul
What is behind e-commerce ? Well, surprisingly, 9 times out of 10, a merchant – with shops and physical goods. Most of the e-commerce revenue is operated by traditional players and not pure digital players. During that conference, the message was clear : merchants should come back to the basics. What makes your bakery your best friend ? he has what you expect (e.g. all sort of breads, plus cakes, plus little sweets and sandwiches), he welcomes you with a smile, he knows you take usually one baguette during the week and two on Saturday, with 4 croissants, he follows you, years after years. Why would not an e-merchant duplicate that behavior ? Digital should not be a barrier to be a merchant. How to make your customer forget he is not (yet) in your nice shop, but over his screen in our crazy word ? By offering a large catalog (and maintaining it). By communicating with empathy (key words for Catherine Barba), energy and kind words (yes, even in invoice e-mail). By suggesting your customers some relevant items, based on history, location and current basket (yeap, up selling or cross selling are the e-merchants best friends). Looking at what @digimood and @nuukik are saying about it.
Shake your shop
Who said that e-commerce and commerce in a shop were exclusives? One should benefit from the other. Off course this is not natural. In big corporation, digital activities are often developed aside, in dedicated organization. I learned that one of the major question there was : who gets the income when the deal is done on line, who to reward in the company for that deal ? the shop which will serve the order, the digital office, the IT (I’m not trolling here). That question is about big companies and networks. But whatever is your size, as a natural consequence of web and shop co-existence, rethinking the customer experience is strategic major question. The web to store notion (or how to make sure your customer go to a store, where margins can be higher, and gets benefit of the web and vice versa) should be dealt at high level, and should be serious enough to force corporation to : i) work transversally and break silos, ii) organize training to change culture, iii) spray some agility inside the company. In other words, change your habits, your organization say @emakina. Promote shops on web site homepage, and instead of fearing the web in shops, give to vendors and customers some tablets – this would make your customer’s life easier as he would not have to hide in the toilets or changing room to check prices on his smartphone.
Shake your brand
Who are you on the web ? A wonderful merchant, yes. But technically, you are an IP node that needs traffic. How to find you ? Via Google, most of the time. So, don’t make your website a labyrinth. Google algorithms will not index it correctly. And by the way, we are in 2014, so if you want to be considered, you cannot afford not to be responsive design (able to be read on a mobile, a tablet, a computer) and connectivity agnostic (wifi, 3G, 4G, same experience, but keep in mind that data rate may be different and you have to save your customer’s data subscription on the last ones). If you have lots of competitors, and want to make sure you are visible and accessible to customers, play the brand and identity advantage. This is a way to make your customer finding you in one click, because they want precisely your product, your nice story, your unique value proposition. They will look for you specifically, typing your brand name in their browser, and not vague key words. In addition to develop a real identity that makes you unique in the web, you can manage a customer community, to have direct communication with them independently from Google (and we fall here into the community management, that allows also to have ‘ real life events’, strengthening the customer relationship, but this should deserve another post).
Use market places. If you cannot afford to maintain a website, make sure you are anyway referenced. Yes, there are Amazon, Rakuten, EBay, LaFnac, Carrefour or Cdiscount to help your customer to place orders on your valuable goods and services. But there are some dedicated market places, by theme or category, and one should consider the idea to multiply its presence on the web.
Shake your money
In e-commerce, pleasure, fun, cool are important, but e-payment is really the point where you want to bring your customer. And actually only 2% of visitors do buy, in France. Don’t miss them. First, payment must be seamless for the customer and risk-less for the merchant. The presentation from @be2bill was interesting on that point. Demonstrating their capability to evaluate risk (based on customer profiles, including habits, localization, score) and provide appropriate payment means to the customer (no payment possible, banking card, with or without 3D secure, …) with a wide technical coverage. And what if you lose your customer during payment ? Well, you can always track that failure and re-offer him later an easy payment mean, or contact him smartly to understand what happened. Re-target, don’t lose the tiny 2% that do buy… Second, reconciliate payment and advertising. Are you sure that you have the appropriate KPI to measure your advertising investments? While being the most natural, well marketed ones, google suite with adword is not the only way deliver and measure advertising. Try to think other means and channels : social media, TV, print (yes, print advert has prices decreasing, and specialized press will welcome your budget). Third. Eveyone deserves some kindness, one day. If you have a good idea, get funded. Here or elsewhere. Some interesting conversations were held about the way to get money from venture capitalist and business angels. From the discussion on stage, one could understand that it is also a matter of network and faith, but also critical mass –if your reach is low (understand how many potential users do you have), or if your revenue is negative don’t even think about it.
Shake your network and innovation
Bringing local and national speakers one day to share their knowledge, improve your network is important. But promoting the local associations and making sure the dialog facilitated here gets prolonged is another challenge. SHAKE14 offered the various associations to be on stage, to promote their objective and recruit members. Several associations were present : ecom provence gathering e-merchants (including the super heros @valvert), ShakinProvence to promote all innovative initiative that would strengthen Provence dynamic, Medinsoft gathering 150 local integrators and software editors.
In the same spirit, in order to value innovation, SHAKE organized a competition for e-commerce innovative idea and web to store categories, the so called Marius as oposed to Cesar, a famous provence character). After pitching in front of a jury, the winners were selected : Roaming by me (to roam mobile everywhere at best prices) (https://www.roamingbyme.com/roaming/travel-connected.php) and Tap Value (http://www.tapvalue.com/) to suport e-merchant communication.
That event was rich, and positive, hoping the team will make us the gift to have a 2015 edition… Marseille deserves that energy. E-commerce deserves that attention.