What’s next in e-tailing – an ACK2012 panel
I threw some notes together from the e-commerce panel at this year’s Nantucket Conference, where Ben Fischman of RueLaLa and Steven Conine of Wayfair engaged in a discussion moderated by Scott Savitz (the founder of shoebuy.com).
First comment: three awesome e-commerce companies in the New England area !
E-commerce has followed a clear set of trends on customer acquisition i.e. paid search, then SEO, then shopping comparison, then reviews, then video and so forth, and today it’s … mobile, mobile, mobile. It’s all about making these work together well, of course.
Wayfair (makers of CSN Stores) took a cool $175M in venture financing recently. They’re clearly not losing their head and keep focused on thrifty execution. Steven explains he does not see obvious native use cases that would be significantly different from a safari experience, so their current focus is making their existing sites work awesomely well on mobile.
At RueLaLa it’s the exact opposite, where 45% of sales on mobile and tablets, of which 85% on Apple devices — Ben states that the company’s focus on mobile is absolute as core to its strategy.
In particular, Pinch and pull, and generally the more tactile experience of tablets makes consumers more apt to purchase because they feel that they are interacting intimately with the products. The website is going to start looking like the Apps, not the other way around.
Key to e-commerce is engagement : mobile offers real opportunities to do cool new things. Ben uses the example of the gyroscope (he asked not to share the specifics).
Mobile also forces declutter – Ben uses Kayak as an example of a very pure mobile experience that he finds incredibly more usable than the website.
Next trend for Wayfair: rich content as top of funnel
Next trend for RueLaLa : peer-to-peer interaction and content, tools to help peers shop on site and across social networks helps drive velocity and shows massive increases in conversion.
RueLaLa uses the customer service function as a part of the marketing function. Ben calls it make-up sex : if you can recover from a bad experience
Both companies look high and low and laterally for new ideas. Example: the CVS mobile app : scan the barcode of a prescription drug to immediately refill prescriptions.