The Takeaway: Whether you were in attendance or couldn't make it, check out some of the most important points from IRCE 2016.
For the 12th year in a row, leading retailers and industry experts from around the globe have come together for the Internet Retailer Conference & Exhibition (IRCE) .
Held in Chicago this year, IRCE 2016 is an opportunity for participants to talk shop and attend sessions and speeches highlighting the latest trends and insight in the realm of commerce - everything from how to leverage social to expectations for new tech disruptions.
With hundreds of speakers and over 10,000 attendees, IRCE 2016 has been a huge success so far - but it's also been pretty overwhelming. Even if you're here in Chicago, you probably haven't been able to hear every talk you were interested in. That's why we're offering up five of the most noteworthy takeaways from IRCE 2016:
1. Distributed commerce is here to stay
This was the most prominent takeaway from ShopTalk 2016, and if there was any uncertainty about distributed commerce's staying power, IRCE 2016 should put those doubts to rest. Retailers need to think bigger, going beyond ecommerce vs. brick-and-mortar, and even beyond omnichannel. They need to embrace distributed commerce - using every platform available to reach out to consumers as part of a broad, comprehensive strategy.
2. You need to REALLY know your customers
If you want to win in retail in 2016 and beyond, you need to know your customers better than ever before. In his keynote speech Wednesday night, Greg Bowen, VP of Dell Commerce Services, discussed how his company mined the thousands of customer comments and tweets it received each day.
"We thought about how to prioritize for the mom in France searching for a laptop for her college son, for the procurement agent in Israel and for the person seeking enterprise storage solutions for data centers," Bowen explained.
It's not just a question of knowing who your customers are, either - you also need to know what they want, even before they do.
3. The customer is in control
This isn't a new discovery, but it's so important - and has featured so prominently at IRCE 2016 - that it definitely bears repeating: It's customers, not companies, who control the shopping experience today. Any retailer that doesn't recognize this simple fact is going to fall behind.
And how do you deliver that level of control? A big part of the equation has to be excellent product content. As our Cracking the Consumer Code ebook highlighted, 88 percent of consumers see product content as extremely or very important to their purchase decisions. The more high-quality product content you make available, the more in-control your customers will feel, and the more likely they'll be to make a purchase.
4. Social's role is expanding
Social's influence on shopping has been growing for years now, and IRCE 2016 made it clear that that trend's not slowing down anytime soon. Beyond Bowen's emphasis on social as a resource for knowing your customer, it's become clear that social is now a driver of sales.
This also ties back into the importance of great product content: Promotions featuring high-quality images and videos are going to do much better on social channels.
5. Get on board with Amazon
Amazon's obviously the biggest digital retail player on the block. Attendees at IRCE 2016 recognized just how much of a powerhouse Amazon has become.
According to Internet Retailer, Amazon accounted for 24% of growth across US retail channels in 2015. #IRCE16— Dotlessı-SimonÉthier (@dotlessi) June 9, 2016
What does that mean for you? For one thing, as we pointed out in our white paper "Winning at Distributed Commerce: A Guide for Brands," you need to view your product listing on Amazon as a form of brand marketing. Whether they buy there or not, Amazon is where a huge number of your potential consumers are going to see your products. You need to make sure you're following Amazon's guidelines to the letter so your products will look great on the Amazon digital shelf.
That's what we've seen at IRCE 2016, but what have we missed? Let us know what you heard, and what you think about all of the insights coming out of this conference.