Last week a select group of retailers came together to discuss what the Future of Canadian eCommerce will look like at our annual Toronto eCommerce Forum. We, alongside some of our friends from Canada Post, Tenzing, PayPal and Magento helped spark the discussion on how our budding eCommerce industry will grow, and most important transform itself over the next 5 years.
Below is a recap of the event, which includes a summary and the slides from the presentation on the Future of Canadian eCommerce, as well as some photos from the evening.
Toronto eCommerce Forum 2014
First of all, what is an eCommerce Forum you might ask? Well, it’s an event we host three times a year (twice in Toronto, once in Montreal) where we bring together key players in the market that represent a major part of the eCommerce ecosystem and a particular group of retailers to discuss, network, and enjoy some food & beverages along the way. Our forums are designed for one-on-one interaction in a comfortable setting where retailers and merchants can come to get their hard pressing questions on eCommerce answered. This fall, our Toronto eCommerce Forum was held at the Ballroom in downtown Toronto, and our sponsors included Canada Post, Tenzing, PayPal and Magento.
Matthew Bertulli, CEO and Co-Founder of Demac Media, began the night with a brief presentation on the Future of Canadian eCommerce. Here is a recap of his talk:
The Future of Canadian eCommerce
Acquisition, Conversion, Retention.
Currently the eCommerce industry is buzzing with the theme of “Omni-Channel” and what the future of eCommerce will look like. Not only in Canada, but globally. Before diving too much into that, it’s best to start with some context on where retail came from. This is what a lot of people consider the “golden age of retail”, which is largely scaling up physical stores.
It’s the idea that merchants went from having retail stores, and did it very well, in the 70s, 80s, and 90s. But then eCommerce came in, and we added on digital as a sales channel. With this new addition, it didn’t cause an alignment or joining of the channels, it caused retailers to treat their eCommerce customers and retail customers as two separate entities, in two separate silos. Even the way merchants structure their company is very different depending on their sales channels.
Then the next phase, was having your own eCommerce store, in addition to your physical location, but merchants could also get into marketplaces and sell on eBay or Amazon. There were many channel options out there. etc. But there were still separate silos of data.
And now we’re at this point where we have this Omni Channel “thing”, with mobile phones, tablets, physical stores, marketplaces. The idea now being that retail has to somehow give a great experiences to their consumers in an ever increasing number of channels and device sizes, as well as scenarios in which customers can interact with your brand. This means there is a ton of data that is being collected, but no one is doing anything with it. But honestly, it’s because we’re still trying to figure out how to handle multiple customers across channels. Some retailers have figured it out, but largely most retailers have not.
Now you layer in the fact that you have iBeacon in physical stores, so you can track what a person is doing inside of your store, or walking by and not coming into your store. That’s powerful (if you can do something with it – from a retention and loyalty standpoint).
Think of your cars. Tesla now has a built in 17″ touch screen built into their cars. You can now shop inside of a Tesla, as they are fully equipped with a web browser etc. So think, you’re going to have apps, or eCom companies like Amazon will be built into these cars where they know that when you leave for work in the morning, it will know what you need to have by the time you get home. Orders can be placed automatically from your car, or even through wearable tech, with health bands and monitors where they know your activity levels. They know if you’re being lazy or active, and they will know if you have order more of something. There is going to be so much that we haven’t even thought of yet.
All this, all the “internet of things” and these devices will just trigger actions. And that is where eCommerce is going. Retail is getting incredibly complicated.
For people like Matt, that’s the challenge now. If retailers do not build a very strong competency in technology or have partners to do it for them, they’re done. Retail is no longer a physical thing. It hasn’t been for a while, but it’s becoming more and more about digital, and even the physical world is becoming digital. For example, we have smaller footprint stores, but still giving customers a great product selection it’s just being fulfilled direct to their home, workplace or post office.
When you think about a retailer’s primary business it’s all about three things:
1. How do you acquire traffic?
2. How do you convert traffic to customers?
3. How do you retain customers, and drive more value through existing customers?
Take those 3 things, and cut them horizontally with all the different channels, devices and opportunities, and you end up with a very complicated business. Considering where it came from, retail success ie. Walmart – who mastered the art of distribution, logistics and physical stores. They then spread those physical stores out like wild fire. Even the BestBuy’s and the Costco’s of the world, their model is decades old, and still successful. However, if you look at Amazon, they are showing the world where the future is going. What Amazon is doing, everybody will eventually do bits and pieces of that, but they’re not going to do all of it because it wouldn’t make sense, and it would be too expensive. But merchants will do bits and pieces that will make sense for their model, business, customer, product etc.
It’s all just getting incredibly complicated. Demac Media is largely a technology company, and we’re very focused on retail, but Matt still thinks it’s complicated. So just imagine if you’re a retailer, and not a technology company, how would you feel?
To sum up, the next 5 years… are going to be crazy.
After Matt’s presentation, we had each of our sponsors come up to introduce themselves and provide a little insight into their companies, their role in the industry, and how they’re helping merchants succeed with online commerce. We’d like to send a huge thank you to Chris Simmons from Magento, Alex Peh from PayPal, Elizabeth Scott from Tenzing, and Aurelien Leftick from Canada Post for coming out and being a part of our event.
The rest of the evening was focused on interaction and discussion between our sponsors, and the eCommerce community on where the industry is headed. If you’re looking for regular eCommerce discussion, please consider joining our monthly eCommerce Toronto Meetup group. We are 800+ members strong, and growing everyday. Learn, grow and discuss with like minded individuals, and see where you can take your eCommerce business. Join here: