eCommerce Trends for 2013 (picked up at ECMOD)

I spent most of this week at the ECMOD conference in London. Most of the time I spent catching up with eCommerce business owners and marketers discussing the latest concerns and results in the industry. Plus, on day 2 I was privileged to be speaking on Social media.

It’s always a privilege to speak at ECMOD because the other speakers are of such high calibre! This year’s line-up included 3 stella acts from the US – the ever fascinating Amy Africa, data king John Miglautsch, and systems guru Ernie Schnell. Plus from the UK there were contributions from Boots, Charles Tyrwhitt, Naked Wines, Royal Mail, Lovehoney, Ironmongery Direct, Boden, Land’s End – the list goes on!

direct commerce showI was lucky enough to be speaking alongside Martin Harvey, the outgoing MD of Marshall’s Seeds (he’s just grown that business 3x in the last 6 years!). The title of our talk was “Why is everyone going social when they should be doing their homework?” = a pragmatic approach to social media! (more on that next week!)

So, from all those great speakers, and the many many conversations I’ve had this week – what is the key trend in eCommerce (at least in the mail order and online only sectors) for the new year?

Profitable New Customer Recruitment

it’s an oldy – but a goody!

Yet again a key topic of conversation was, “catalogue recruitment is expensive (aka not as good as it used to be), how can we recruit lots of new customers online, effectively”.

Unfortunately there’s no quick solution to that, because online changes at such a faster rate than offline used to. It used to be that if you found a good cold postal list it would continue working for you for years, bringing in year after year, even decades, of quality new customers.

Online nothing seems to last consistently for more than a few years. Just look at Groupon – a few months of great results, but now it’s tired, and just not driving the traffic it used to. PPC (google adwords) is the same, 5 years ago it was easy to get new customers, now it’s more expensive and harder.

So of course, at least 2 people asked me if I knew of a good cold emailing solution (well, it’s the obvious answer), but of course it doesn’t work that way – it’s expensive and not very effective.

Do I have an answer? Not a simple one. Well, not as simple as going to a list broker and buying a list anyway!

But it does work on the same principles. Partnerships. (see the final chapter of the book!).

Partnerships involve buddying up with a company targeting the same customers as you (like you used to do for Cold data). Then find ways to work together – it might be links to each site on the order confirmation page, sending out an email recommending the other company, blog posts, tweets, postal data swaps, inserts, bouncebacks. The key difference to the old days is that’s a fuller relationship – a one to one, not just via a list broker. So it’s going to take more time and effort.

See some examples of partnership marketing in action here

And Content

If you think Partnership Marketing sounds like hard work – this is more time-consuming and will take longer to pay off.

The key to success now online is content.

It drives your SEO – people like it and link to it, they like it and talk about it (in social media), it shows the search engines you have unique real content – you’re not just a shopping cart.

It also builds your brand and loyalty from your customers.

So if you’ve not built a content marketing calendar into your plans for 2013 – get it sorted!

Content can be blog posts, it can be how to guides, PDF downloads, videos of your products – or just great descriptions of those products. The choice is yours – but if you haven’t got it, you’re going to lose out.

Examples of Content Marketing can be found here


This was the other key trend at ECMOD – lots of people talking about whether they should be selling via eBay and Amazon, plus a few who already do. Including the guys from TameBay.

(I even chatted to one guy who’s driving £500,000 in sales a year from Amazon and eBay in just one product sector.)

The real reticence of traditional eCommerce businesses to use Amazon and eBay seems to be “ownership” of the customer – can you market to them via DM and email again? I think there needs to be a mind-shift on this front. If your target customers are buying regularly from eBay and Amazon – why aren’t you selling there?


So, those of you who were there – what nuggets have you picked up?