Customer Knowledge & D2C Growth: What We Learned From eTail West 2023

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By Mikayla Doughney

Content Marketing Manager
The Lead

Customer Knowledge & D2C Growth:
What We Learned From eTail West 2023

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Image via eTail.
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This past February, The Lead attended the eTail West in Palm Springs. The conference featured over 100 expert speakers, and over 1800 senior-level retail and eCommerce executives. eTail West 2023 provided valuable insights into the latest trends and strategies that eCommerce leaders need to be paying attention to. Below, we’ve summarized some of the key insights that we took away from the conference.

Customer Experience is Everything: Shoppers are returning to physical stores for the in-person experience, but their journey often starts with a digital touchpoint. According to Scott Saeger, SVP and CIO of GNC, the brand’s primary focus should be on the customer – regardless of whether they shop online or in-store. The aim is to make the customer’s transition from eCommerce to brick-and-mortar as smooth as possible. To do this, brands need to invest in replicating in-person experiences online through digital personalization and curation, which can be accomplished with a strong, specialized technical infrastructure. 

Personalization is Key: Personalization quickly emerged as a key topic at the conference. Retailers are focusing on creating a tailored shopping experience for their customers, using data-driven insights to understand their preferences and behaviors. Utilizing first-party data allows for the collection, analysis, and use of shopper signals to predict the customer’s next actions–such as which channel they’ll use, when they’ll next engage, and what product or category they’ll buy. During eTail West, Brooke Cullison, Senior Acquisition Manager at Liquid I.V. noted that AI and automation are expected to play a major role in driving personalization efforts this year.

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Social Media and Social Commerce, the Ever-Changing Landscape: Brands are no longer just pushing out content and hoping for the best, but are instead using data and insights to create targeted campaigns that resonate with their audiences. As a result of TikTok and YouTube, user-generated content (UGC) is increasingly popular. For example, Walmart is adapting to better connect with both shoppers and content creators by expanding its platform to encompass social commerce, content, and creators with the beta test of “Walmart Creator.” Sarah Henry, VP, Content, Influencer, and Commerce at Walmart said during a fireside chat at eTail West that the retailer aims to “shorten (the) distance between content and purchase.” To streamline the shopping experience, Walmart is utilizing technology such as shoppable recipes, live streaming, partnerships, and “buy from” ads. In the future, social media and social commerce will continue to evolve, and brands will need to stay on top of these new trends and technologies in order to remain relevant and successful.

Small Influencers, Big Returns: Influencer marketing has become a vital way for brands to reach their target audience and increase engagement. While working with big influencers can be costly, partnering with small influencers can provide big returns. During eTail West, Fernish CMO Evelyn Krasnow remarked, “We’ve had luck with big influencers, and we’ve had tremendous failure with big influencers, and we’ve had sleeper hits (with) micro-influencers.” The best ways to find micro-influencers are through checking TikTok search pages, mining your brand’s existing followers, and social listening. The micro-influencers found these ways are authentically loyal to your brand. “I think authenticity around affiliates that have good content around your brand and are true either users or advocates of the brand has been more effective for us than influencers where people can kind of see between the lines,” said John Merris, CEO and Director of Solo Brands.

Image via eTail.

Optimizing Omni-Channel: Mobile commerce continues to dominate the eCommerce landscape, with more and more consumers using their mobile devices to make purchases. Retailers need to optimize their tech stack for mobile and should focus on providing a seamless shopping experience across all channels. Some brands are using as many channels as possible to maximize their reach. Unfortunately, this backfires because the brand’s messaging and marketing can get lost in translation across these channels. During eTail West, Jessica Granata, VP of Growth Marketing at Andie (a 2020 & 2021 Foremost 50 company) said, “I hope that brands start to realize that instead of doing nineteen channels, do like twelve channels and do them better.”

Optimizing Relationships with Tech Companies: By communicating with technologists and ensuring that they deliver what they promise, brands and retailers can acquire better technology. Jenna Posner, CDO at Snipes said, “I personally believe that these relationships need to be rooted in this concept of reciprocity, vision, and trust. And if those three things are firing on all cylinders, then we all really benefit.” Communicating your brand’s wants and needs clearly to technologists can get you better tech, and in return they’ll get a loyal, happy customer.

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The eCommerce industry is constantly evolving, and retailers need to stay ahead of the curve by embracing new technologies and innovations. From augmented reality to chatbots, retailers need to constantly be exploring new ways to engage with their customers, and enhance the shopping experience. Interested in attending? Learn about next year’s eTail West here: