Oct 06 2016
Carnegie Hall SLI Connect

SLI 2016: Emerging Trends and In-Store Experiences

Earlier this month, Blue Acorn sponsored and attended SLISystems’ annual ecommerce summit, SLI Connect, in New York City. I’m originally from the Tri-State Area, and, while I love my adopted home of Charleston, I also love any excuse to head back to the Big Apple. This trip didn’t disappoint! I got my fix of bagels, Chinese food, and pizza. I also soaked in the sights from the event’s locale: the beautiful rooftop deck and events space at Carnegie Hall. Even better than the sights and the food, SLI Connect was packed with informative content, great speakers and lively networking. For those of you who were unable to attend, I’ve recapped some of the big takeaways below.

Emerging Trends

I love hearing about trends! It’s fun to learn how industries are evolving and what’s coming up next that is shiny and new. In her talk, “The State of Retail…And Other Musings,” Melissa Campanelli, the editor-in-chief of Total Retail, spoke about how the ecommerce landscape is experiencing both positive and negative influences. On the plus side, the retail industry is really embracing technology. Our client Rebecca Minkoff comes to mind—the fashion brand’s interactive dressing room mirror integration creates a true omnichannel experience for shoppers. On the negative side, we have the presidential election, which is adversely affecting sales. It will be interesting to see what happens when the election is over.

Melissa also spoke about competing with digital disruptors. How can you go head-to-head with an industry giant like Amazon? Find a niche and dominate it! Our client, Casper, did a great job at this. Casper has disrupted the mattress industry by finding a niche, using creative marketing campaigns, and creating a one-of-a-kind experience for its customers, and it’s had a huge impact on the industry.

Melissa closed her remarks with some trends that we should be on the lookout for, including the rise of frictionless commerce. Think of the Amazon reorder pods and apps that brands, retailers, and restaurants have created to make ordering and reordering as seamless as possible (while rewarding customers at the same time).

Another trend to watch out for is the advent of new delivery methods, such as drone delivery and grocery delivery, (the latter is doubly exciting if you live in a walk-up). Finally, Melissa talked about creating in-store experiences that your customers will remember. Lululemon is a perfect example: The fitness apparel brand has begun offering yoga classes in stores. Prospects can get a sweat session in, all while keeping an eye on the prize: snagging a new outfit at the end of class.

At SLI Connect, we also heard from Fahim Naim from eShopportunity. His session, “Emerging eCommerce Platforms and Trends,” focused  on the onsite experience and different ways retailers are making it convenient for customers to shop online. Emerging ecommerce platforms are always interesting to hear about.  Who doesn’t love a new, convenient feature, except for maybe one attached to your bank account?

First up were some Costco competitors: Jet.com and Boxed.com, brands that enable users to buy goods in bulk at a discount online—without a memebership. I’m lucky to sit next to Costco’s biggest fan here in the office, and he would never give up his in-store experience to shop online. However, I also know many people (myself included) who would love to have bulk goods delivered to my doorstep with the click of a button.

Another interesting industry trend is the use of additional marketplaces by brands and retailers to grow their business. (Uber Eats and Amazon Home Services come to mind.) Brands are also using sample boxes to drive awareness, sales and customer engagement. I’m a huge fan of these subscription services and belong to several, all of which were gifts from family members.  Dollar Shave Club and Candy Club are perfect examples of clubs that have you answer a few questions to make sure they deliver products that fit your needs month after month. It’s the gift that keeps on giving—my brothers still thank me every month for their Sock of the Month Club delivery! The bottom line from Fahim’s presentation is that personalization, convenience, and innovation are the keys to engaging your customers and staying at the top of your market.

Email Marketing Strategy

Another session that I was excited for was the one presented by Danit Zmora from Everlast and Greg Zakowicz from Bronto. We have been working with Everlast for a few years and launched its most recent ecommerce site.  During our implementation process, we ensured that Everlast was set up for success with some great partners, including Bronto and SLI Systems.

During their session, Danit and Greg did a fantastic job explaining some of the challenges Everlast faced with email marketing, and shared some of their recent successes. Danit discussed ways that Everlast grew its list, including by adding sign-up links on every page. She also reminded attendees that it’s important to make sure you segment your lists properly and send relevant content. That’s where the various series of emails come into play, such as a welcome series after a subscriber signs up. Bronto helped Everlast push the boundaries with this one, extending the series past sign up and purchase to include a post-purchase series of emails, including a thank you for shopping and an additional offer. Everlast has seen some incredible results by making some tweaks to their email strategy.

SLI Updates

Of course, SLI Connect wouldn’t be complete without an update from SLI itself about what the team has been up to. In addition to SLI’s impressive technology stack, the company has some exciting releases, including a new and enhanced rich auto-complete search, which displays pictures and prices in the search bar. What sets SLI apart is that its search tool gets better over time, meaning the more it is used, the more it learns.

Since we’re huge fans of data here at Blue Acorn and use it to make smarter decisions, we also geeked out over SLI’s analytics dashboard. This allows full transparency into various KPIs and what activities are occurring on the site, and it shows how valuable a strong search tool on your site can be. After all, how many times have you been frustrated and left a site because you couldn’t find what you were looking for?

SLI has many other exciting updates, so we encourage you to reach out to your representative.  Not sure who that is? Get in touch with me and I can point you in the right direction.

Until next year!

Jessica Tuckman-Ward

Sales Operations Manager

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