A few weeks ago, we received an invite by Digital River via LinkedIn to attend Commerce Connect 2019 this 17 October. The event has just ended and it wowed us! The choice of location couldn’t have been better (none other than The Shard in London) and the food was fantastic. However, the highlight was definitely the insightful presentations by the expert speakers. They shared their knowledge with the rest of us, and it was quite enlightening. If you were there today, we hope to see you again at our own Creativity and AI conference next year!

Also, if you are interested in comparing the e-commerce landscape with the localisation landscape, check out this article when you finish reading the current one.

Keep reading to find out the main insights we got from today’s amazing event.

Maria Scheibengraf at Commerce Connect 2019

Introduction and Welcome

Jason Nyhus, in charge of Global SVP Demand Generation, Sales and Partnerships at Digital River, welcomed the audience and went over the agenda for the day. For those of you who don’t know who Digital River are, they are basically the kings of E-Commerce. In their own words: “Established and fast-growing brands alike rely on our flexible, API-powered solutions to sell direct to their customers, whether they live around the corner or around the world. Our modular platform, global expertise, and advanced partner ecosystem let you focus on creating seamless buyer experiences while we work behind the scenes to process payments, mitigate fraud, and manage taxes and compliance on your behalf.”

E-Commerce is Ecosystems: The Changing Dynamics of Selling Globally

Commerce Connect 2019 - Adam Coyle

Adam Coyle, Digital River‘s CEO, discussed the importance of e-commerce functioning as part of an ecosystem for brands to succeed in their selling efforts, especially when trying to go beyond their country’s borders.

We’ve collected some interesting ideas from Adam Coyle, which you can see below in a quote format:

  • “Increasingly, Digital River’s clients were looking for differentiating factors when it comes to e-commerce capabilities and experience, especially at the enterprise level.”
  • “There is no such thing as headless e-commerce. There is always a head somewhere.”
  • “Brands going global want to present a different consumer experience but also an efficient, seamless experience in the background, and that’s where Digital River comes into play.”
  • “Payments, compliance, tax… going global is not easy! Brands need a good infrastructure so consumers will have a local experience regardless of where the company is based.”
  • “Companies looking to go global need to operate around the world in a way that’s seamless, and by working with us they can do it without having to build all that operational complexity themselves.”
  • “One of our biggest challenges is that, as we disaggregated our services, it’s hard to describe what we do in a concise way. Nobody actually puts it together exactly the same way because there’s nothing else like it nowadays.”

Modern Approaches to Growing Online Sales

The next Commerce Connect talk was full of very technical, yet impressive and interesting data. It was delivered by George Lawrie, Vice President and Principal Analyst at Forrester Research. Forrester do market research and provide advice on the existing and potential impact of technology to its clients and the public.  George shared data about the direct-to-consumer opportunity for manufacturers and brands, and the extent of the challenges they must overcome.

Here are the main ideas from his talk:

  • “The drivers of growth are traffic, conversion, basket value.”
  • “It’s local search and local content that drive traffic.”
  • “Local search engines and online marketplaces will determine how you will display the content and will allow you a share in the market you are trying to enter.”
  • “The media and the content in the market you are going to work in are crucial, and you need to understand them because they will affect conversion.”
  • “Relevant recommendations to consumers will drive order value, and that’s where customer data enters the picture, especially when it comes to where customers are in the path to purchase.”
  • “Mobile data, time and place where customers are accessing, complaints… that’s all data that needs to be analysed for a dynamic, in-the-moment calculation to decide what to do with each customer.”
  • “No customer will reward you for responding to their demands; they will reward you for anticipating their demands.”
  • “Customers don’t want a conversation, they want convenience.”
  • “Brands trying to sell directly to consumers need to engage customers, ship to them, comply with local laws and tax regulations… they need a local importer/seller of record to manage everything locally for them.”
  • “How will customers find your content if you haven’t populated the right local search engine?”
  • “Cross-border shipping involves a lot of different aspects: shipping, courier, tax, compliance, payments, fraud, etc. If you want to gear up, you need a local partner to help manage all that.”
  • “Choose your target market wisely, considering what people it includes, what technology they will be using, and take language into consideration too.”
  • “In the Tinder generation, everyone is on a 3-second audition.”
  • “The key to entering a new market is understanding consumers’ behaviour. How much do you know about them and how they buy? You can work around tax, compliance, shipping… but you won’t succeed without an intimate understanding of customer behaviour.”

Customer Spotlight: B2B E-Commerce as a Tool for Growth

Next was Peter Wheeldon, Senior Compliance Professional at iPoint Systems. iPoint work with product compliance and sustainability, and offer software solutions and services for business processes and sustainable products.

Here are the highlights from Peter’s talk:

  • “It’s all about sustainability and local rules from a compliance point of view. Our software takes conversations and data up and down the supply chain.”
  • “Do you know what’s in your product? Do you know your suppliers? What’s the impact of your product on the environment? We help you figure all that out.”
  • “Our software SustainHub acts as a broker for the flexible handling of data requests.”
  • “Our currently most under-served customer segment includes areas like Brazil, China, Japan, and the Arab countries, which are starting to get more involved in the global scene.”
Commerce Connect Speakers

Expert Panel 1 on The Changing Landscape of Global E-Commerce

After a delicious hot buffet, we benefited from the expert input of a panel of 4 speakers moderated by James Gagliardi from Digital River. The panel members included Paul Gillart (Head of EMEA E-Commerce at VMware), Andreas Grund (Manager at diconium), Søren Kruse (Global E-commerce Director at Jabra), and Alex Saroian (Sales Director, EMEA/APAC at Elastic Path).

Below you can read the most relevant concepts from their fruitful exchange of ideas:

  • “We are trying to give customers the right information so the online purchase experience is easy for them to figure out.” – Paul Gillart
  • “For us, the most important challenge when it comes to our e-commerce strategy is the complexity of entering emerging markets, like South America, for example.” – Søren Kruse
  • “To get the local expertise, we are now hiring professionals who are experts in each region. We didn’t use to but now we do.” – Søren Kruse
  • “We are in the process of using headless e-commerce.” – Paul Gillart
  • “Customer expectations will always be shifting – the benchmark will be set by the competition of by the digital champions like Google or Amazon.” – Andreas Grund
  • “The one thing that our clients find more challenging is that clients are not thinking about e-commerce but rather about simple commerce, i.e., interacting with you and buying something from you. Customers have taken the ‘e’ out of ‘e-commerce’.” – Alex Saroian
  • Question from the public: “Headless e-commerce is the way forward, but using multiple systems adds a lot of complexity, how do we work around such complexity?”
  • “People, communication, organisation, adapting to change are the way around the complexity of using several systems when you work with headless commerce, which is a justified complexity.” – Alex Saroian
  • “Theoretically, with headless e-commerce we should be speaking with a wider constituency of steakholders instead of just the Head of E-Commerce and the IT Director.” – Alex Saroian
  • “Customers want an omnichannel experience and headless e-commerce is the way to accomplish that.” – Andreas Grund
  • “We think about AI a lot. We are exploring the possibility of following and recognising a customer interacting with Jabra whatever the channel, so we can provide unique customer service when they go in store.” – Søren Kruse
  • “Customers expect to be treated personally considering the amount data that is held online about them when they interact with a brand repeatedly through more than one channel. It’s like being a regular at a retail store.” – Andreas Grund

In-depth E-commerce Dialogue with PayPal (Sponsors of Commerce Connect 2019)

Towards the end of the Commerce Connect event, Adam Coyle interviewed Jess Tinker, Partner Growth Manager at PayPal. Jess had a lot to contribute, especially some specific numbers from a study PayPal conducted on online customer behaviour.

Jess’s main points:

  • “Partnerships in the e-commerce industry: you need the ecosystem of partnerships to make e-commerce work because no single company can solve e-commerce on their own.”
  • “According to a study we did, only 17 % of e-commerce sites in the UK are mobile-optimised, and nearly 50 % of consumers abandon the e-commerce site because of the bad mobile experience.”
  • “Younger generations are selling limited edition, high value items from their bedrooms and making a lot of money from it, so e-commerce goes beyond traditional retailers.”
  • (Adam Coyle: “Some retailers are looking to drive their most loyal consumers away from sites like Amazon and towards their own websites to provide them with a higher CX and higher end products.”)
  • “My personal view is that headless e-commerce is a great move in the market.”
  • “According to our study, 25 % of customers abandon their purchase if their preferred method of payment is not there.”
  • “If you offer credit, you should communicate it to the customer at the very beginning of their purchase journey, i.e., as soon as they get to the site.”
  • “Consumers globally & in the UK are so technologically savvy, and mobile continues to be the trend. Mobile has been a trend for while but it hasn’t been picked up for a while.”

Expert Panel 2 on Commerce and Customer Experience: Strategies to Maximise Growth

Again with James Gagliardi as the moderator, four more speakers joined the stage at Commerce Connect. They were Simon Bardrick (VP of E-Commerce and Demand Generation at Socialbakers), Irina Bock (Digital Sales Director at Kaspersky), Mustafa Rashid (Head of Emerging Technologies at Isobar), and Hugo Sellert (VP of Consumer Sales and Marketing at Avast).

Their ideas were really illuminating! Here are the main ones:

  • “Traditional retailers have made a great leap online, with Zara‘s CX being an example of an amazing experience.” – Hugo Sellert
  • “User testing is the best way to provide the best customer experience possible. Test, test, test. You need a lot of hours to listen to a lot of people, though!” – Simon Bardrick
  • “It’s important to identify what our customers think brings them value, so the value proposition side of things.” – Irina Bock
  • James Gagliardi asked the panel: “How do you balance personalisation and privacy?”
  • “We combine personalisation and privacy by aggregating data and by using segmentation.” – Irina Bock
  • “As a security company, privacy is a hot topic for us. The degree to which a consumer allows a company to collect your data for a more personal experience plays a big role.” – Hugo Sellert
  • “GDPR has provided us with a framework to navigate the privacy aspect of things in a way that ensures we don’t cross any boundaries.” – Hugo Sellert
  • “In the area of personalisation, there is a great promise that AI can help us deliver.” – Hugo Sellert
  • “Every market needs to be assessed to see if omnichannel is the best option there.” – Irina Bock
  • “In e-commerce, good UX is having better security and performance (site speed, for example). Those are the basics and you sit on top of these by integrating the data and you take it from there.” – Mustafa Rashid
  • “Getting the content right is key for a good CX and to know where to invest in. You need to evaluate engagement and how the public responds.” – Simon Bardrick
  • “Content and experience are different across platforms.” – Simon Bardrick
  • “If content is king, call to action is queen.” – James Gagliardi
  • “Improving CX is key, which might involve changing the business model (subscriptions, marketplaces, etc.), but also getting it right when you enter a new market.” – Mustafa Rashid
  • “As a B2B, SaaS company, we always say that effective retention comes before customer acquisition.” – Simon Bardrick
  • “Never underestimate the value of localisation.” – Hugo Sellert

Closing Commerce Connect: Cross-border Trends: Payments, Brexit, and Beyond

The closing talk was delivered by Julie Rea, Senior Director of Compliance at Digital River. Her insightful explanation of compliance included a comparison between the US and the UK:

  • “In the US, privacy is not a fundamental right as it is in Europe.”
  • “The CCPA (California Consumer Privacy Act) has recently come into effect in California and is modelled after GDPR.”
  • “15 US states are working on privacy legislation at the moment, and there are more to come.”
  • “Brazil’s data privacy legislation is also modelled after GDPR.”
  • “We are working on the EU’s Payment Services Directive (PSD2) which came into effect on 14 September 2019, although the deadline has been extended to 31 December 2020.”
  • “We are also working on the EU Cookies Directive and ePrivacy Regulation.”
  • “If there is a Brexit Deal, there would still be a comprehensive free trade agreement that we could still work under. No deal would mean a fall-back on WTO rules.”

1 Comment

Jason Nyhus · 18 October, 2019 at 4:06 pm

Tremendous recap of our event, thank you so much for attending and recapping it so well.

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