It’s been four weeks since the end of the Internet Retailer Conference & Exhibition 2012 and many online retailers have a problem. They met a slew of vendors at IRCE that offer services that sound compelling. But there’s only so much time and so much money. How does a retailer decide what to do when so many technology and service providers are following up with calls, seeking new business?
Many of the retailers were already feeling confused before they left IRCE, says Bernardine Wu, CEO of FitForCommerce, the e-commerce technology consulting firm that staffed the Help Desk at the conference in Chicago last month. “We met a lot of attendees who were overwhelmed, and felt like many of the solutions were starting to blur together,” Wu says. “While all the solutions help retailers grow their e-businesses or reduce costs, telling them apart was often challenging, we were told.”
Wu has some advice for those confused e-retailers. “The trick is that you need to look closely at what they really offer—don’t just get sucked in by buzzwords. Now that you’re back at the office and away from the hustle and bustle, you have the time to really look at the specs for each vendor you’re considering.” And don’t just talk to the salespeople from the vendors you’re considering—they’re not the ones you’ll be working with once the contract is signed, she adds. Get to know the execution teams, how they operate and their personalities. “IRCE was a great starting point for you to get an idea for which solutions might be a good fit,” Wu says, “and now is the time to really do your homework.”
One retailer who followed Wu’s advice at last year’s IRCE in San Diego was Daniel Yen, CEO of Movie Mars, an online retailer of DVDs and CDs. It’s not easy selecting from all the vendors available at a conference like IRCE, which this year featured 564 vendor displays in the Exhibit Hall. “I know from experience how incredibly overwhelming it can be with so many great companies out there, and more ideas and technologies than one can possibly deploy,” Yen says.
At last year’s IRCE, Yen met ShopVisible, an e-commerce platform provider. He became convinced that ShopVisible could quickly upgrade his site, and embarked on a full-scale replatforming of MovieMars.com. A year later he was back at IRCE, this time speaking about what he’s achieved with the enhanced site. Among other things, the ShopVisible platform allows him to adjust his prices based on what competitors are charging on comparison shopping sites, and to offer visitors to MovieMars.com ways to filter search results and coupon codes. “It is important to choose a partner that is willing to innovate with you,” Yen says, “and that has the right team and cultural fit so that you know you are going to have an aligned motivation to succeed.”
Other retailers can have the same kind of happy story to tell, if they carefully consider which of the many capable vendors exhibiting at IRCE best fit their needs.