Takeaways from eCommerce Expo. Magento upgrades, Subscription eCommerce, GDPR, Amazon one-click (episode 122-5)

eCommerce Expo is co-located with TFM (Technology for Marketing) at London’s Olympia.

It’s held over two days – and (just like last year) I spent much of my time catching up with people, and didn’t go to any sessions. (if you love the session updates – just you wait for my takeaways from IRC!).

Last year I was lucky enough to present a session on behalf of Trustpilot, this year I got to chair my own session on Subscription eCommerce.

So I have updates on that coming your way, together with:

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  • ecommerce expo podcast
    A couple of new tools
  • And the key talking points from the conference:
    • The change of show owner
    • Magento 1/2
    • Amazon 1 click patent expires
    • GDPR

Subscription eCommerce

I hosted a panel with Dave Rotheroe star of this podcast (episodes 22 & 76) and founder of Cheese Posties, and Chris Lambert of ScrawlrBox. Where we discussed the opportunity of subscription eCommerce.

I opened the session with some stats which several people came up to me afterwards to clarify, so I thought you’d probably appreciate them too, so here’s my intro:

Subscription eCommerce is in many ways still the new kid on the block. It covers a diverse range of business and product types, including the discovery boxes like Birchbox and Bark Box; the helpful consumable product like Dollar Shave Club; food deliver like Hello Fresh or Graze; and increasingly as an add on to a ‘normal’ eCommerce business.

But it came of age in 2016 when Dollar Shave Club was bought by Unilever for a cool $1bn. And it’s not just a one-company show. According to Hitwise:

  • Traffic to subscription businesses grew 3000% between 2013 and 2016 (compared to growth of 168% over the same timespan for the top 500 eCommerce sites.

Here’s the article with all the Hitwise stats, but here’s the 2 other particularly useful stats from that one:

  • The most common subscription shopper is a female, 25-44 educated, with a higher than average income (but it’s not the stand out by a large margin – so don’t think this is only for women!!)
  • Social media is key – in December 2015 Hitwise data showed that 13.5% of referral traffic to subscription businesses was from social media, compared to just 8.4% for traditional retailers

This last stat reflects a recurring theme in our panel discussion – it’s all about community, and referrals. Both my panellists were focused on using community to drive the initial sale (social proof, referrals, free traffic, review sites), and actively using community to create engagement with subscribers and keep them subscribed.

Cheese Posties have just launched their own Facebook Group for customers, and have always encouraged the sharing of postie hacks and photos.

ScrawlrBox encourage their customers to share what they’ve created with the contents of their box across social media, all pulled together on the community page of the website using the app #tagboard. And have regular featured artists.

Before we move on from subscriptions – I’d love to have more subscription businesses on the podcast in 2018 – so if you’d like to come on and talk about your subscription business – then please get in contact.

A couple of new tools

Number 1 – Phrasee Pheelings Lite

Phrasee are a business completely focused on using AI (artificial intelligence) to improve your subjects lines and thus the performance of your email marketing.

Their paid service is aimed at the enterprise sector – you need to be sending about 100k per month for it to really work.

So it’s not for most of us! BUT they’ve put a little bit of the tech out for free – it’s called Phrasee Pheelings Lite and you can use it to work out which emotions make your customers respond.

How to:

  • Go to this page
  • Enter your subject line in the first box – pick your best performance, that’s more interesting than “Sale now on”
  • Chose your business sector
  • Enter your name and email – yes you do have to sign up, but their emails are GREAT so it’s not a hardship!

Then you’ll get a report explaining the sentiments of that subject line – you can use that to create more subject lines that focus on the same sentiments that got your customers to buy in the first place.

Emotion is super powerful and something we often forget about in eCommerce – but really shouldn’t! (more on that (probably) in next week’s takeaways as I’m hosting a panel discussion about emotion in eCommerce at IRC this week).

Number 2 – Domo

OK. So I might be mentioning this one a little prematurely as I haven’t yet full road tested it. BUT from the in depth demo I got at the show, this is an awesome tool that has the power to transform retail businesses.

Domo’s stated mission is to eradicate the spreadsheet.

They want to do for reporting what google analytics did for website analytics.

And the full tool is free (well until you seriously create and share a LOT of content with it, which I think you’d need to be a very big business to manage).

So what does it actually do?

Well – you can integrate the data from all your data sources and turn them into easy to use, automatically updated visual dashboards.

So spend an hour or two getting it set up (I recommend using their ready to go templates to start off with) and then you can start your day by checking all’s ok on your domo dashboards, then get on with the tasks.

Yes, no more manually populating spreadsheets, it does it all for you.

The warning though it that you could easily lose a day to it when you first set it up (which is why I haven’t yet properly opened the bonnet on the thing) – so be sure this is something you should be looking at this side of Xmas.

If you’re doing Facebook ads – their Facebook ad performance templates would be a great place to start.

Domo free sign up

Key talking points from the conference

There are a few big topics on the go in eCommerce at the mo, that were under discussion at eCommerce Expo, and which I haven’t really covered in the podcast yet – so here’s some thoughts on them.

The change of show owner

A few weeks before eCommerce Expo the show changed hands. General consensus was that this is an exciting development. For the first time pretty much every single stall holder at the event enthused to me about how they were having a great show (many often tell me they’re having a great show, but enthusing… not so much!).

If they’re having a great show it means the right people are coming through the door – so I’d expect it will be a better show next year too.

Shopify had a stand!

The first time I think they’ve ever exhibited at a UK show – so that was interesting to see.

Magento 1 / 2

Whilst this doesn’t directly affect those not on Magento 1 – it is still something to be aware of, because it will have an impact on site builder availability.

In a nut shell what’s happening is that Magento want move all their users to Magento 2. But to move from Magento 1 to Magento 2 is complete re-scope and rebuild, which does unlock a lot more functionality, if you need it, at a higher price point.

So not much of a carrot to move! But the stick is quite fierce, at some point after November 2018 Magento will cease to support Magento 1, that means no security patches etc. They have said that they’ll give at least 18 months notice on that date. So the panic and urgency has at least gone.

The stay of execution means anyone on Magento 1 can breathe a sigh of relief. However, not a big one. To stick on Magento 1 puts your fate in someone else’s hands:

  • You’re on a platform that the developers don’t care about – so don’t expect any nice upgrades, or new functionality.
  • 18 months notice isn’t that long in eCommerce – if they announce the 18m notice in June 2018, that gives you until Dec 2019. If Christmas is important for you, June is too late to start scoping a new site for Christmas 2018, so you’re going to be working on it from Jan 2019 – along with everyone else.

My advice therefore is two-fold:

  1. Set your date to change now. Whilst it’s still on your terms, and do it sooner rather than later.
  2. Take the opportunity to decide if Magento is still the option for you. If you’ve got re-scope the site, and create a new brief, which wouldn’t you look into building on another platform if it suits you better?

Find out more about the situation and your options in two video session of the eCommerce MasterPlan Virtual Summit – completely free, and available right now, right here

Amazon 1 click patent expires

I personally think this is a red herring, a bright shiny object set to distract the majority of us.

Amazon have held a patent on the 1-click button since 1999, and it expired in September.

Is this an amazing opportunity for everyone in eCommerce? No.

It’s a great extra piece of functionality that those with very loyal customers, who are happy to have their details saved at the retailer. So I’m sure M&S, eBay, and marketplaces will do well with it. And it may offer some great functionality in the B2B sector. But for the rest of us – how many of your customers would feel comfortable buying with one click?


OK. The big bad GDPR.

A few of you have been asking for my advice on this recently. And it was a topic of discussion at eCommerce Expo too.

I don’t yet have the answers – I’m purposefully waiting for the guidance from the ICO to be published before I give you any advice. Once that’s out there, I’ll do something on it – what I’m not yet sure – but something will out there before Christmas, which still gives the great majority of you time to get it all sorted out.

So for now – let’s focus on driving those Christmas sales.

So there’s my updates – an eclectic mix of topics! The next takeaways episode should be out next week, and it’ll be my takeaways from Internet Retailing Conference – I’m chairing a session in the full conference on emotional eCommerce, and then the whole Analyse and Conquer stream, so there’s going to be lots to bring you from that one!

If you want to get stuck into some more conference style content in the meantime then my eCommerce MasterPlan Virtual Summit remains open to registrations (it’s free, and you’ll have access until at least Sept 2018!).

If you are at IRC this week – do come over and say hi!

Have a great week everyone and Keep Optimising!