eTail West: Personalization, AI and Rain

We’re back from a fun and very busy eTail West. Lots of great conversations, presentations and surprisingly… rain. Looking back, a few key themes emerged as top of mind for today’s retail and eCommerce teams. Here are 3 of our key takeaways from eTail West:

Personalization is still a top priority, but its definition is maturing.
Personalization was a hot topic as always, but the conversation is evolving. Brands understand that today’s customers expect timely and contextually relevant experiences. However, most organizations are still unable to deliver them for each individual customers. Retailers are recognizing their current personalization efforts are creating a widening gap between them and their customers. They’re pushing the definition of personalization beyond segmentation.

It’s not enough to deliver slightly personalized customer experiences; customers don’t want to be treated like segments.

They want to be recognized as individuals. Brands that can understand each individual customer’s preferences and intent across every shopping experience will boost performance KPIs – and, more importantly – build brand loyalty and affinity.

eCommerce is Ready for AI and Machine Learning
Another hot topic at eTail West which seemed to be on the minds and lips of all attendees and presenters, was Artificial Intelligence (AI). Amidst the radically changing eCommerce landscape, AI and machine learning present a wealth of opportunities to retailers – specifically merchandisers. AI and machine learning provide retailers a means of individualizing each customer interaction at a scale unattainable by more manual or rules-based solutions – in real time. Without these technologies, the dream of true 1:1 individualized marketing is fundamentally impossible.

Amazon Amazon Amazon
As is true in most corners of the eCommerce world, everyone at eTail West was thinking about Amazon. Whether discussing Amazon’s merchandising tactics, virtual inventory strategy or the impact of Alexa on eCommerce, brands are watching the eCommerce giant and are eager to learn how to emulate its success or simply just compete. Amazon will always be able to beat their competitors on price and probably on shipping. Companies that hope to compete successfully need to not only take a page or two our of Amazon’s playbook, but adopt different tactics as well.

Matt Helmke

Matt is the senior director of communications and content at Reflektion. He’s led global communications, content and brand strategy programs for high-profile, culture-shifting Fortune 500 business divisions, as well as innovative, early-stage startups. The common thread running through his career is a passion for disruptive technologies focused on improving and redefining end-user experiences. Outside of technology, his passions include his family, music, bourbon, craft beers, fishing and swimming… but not all at once.