|Tue Sept 11 2012 13:57:08|
Retailers Gather in Denver to Talk 'Shop'
By: Ina Steiner
The National Retail Federation's online division, Shop.org, is holding its annual summit in Denver this week. Monday kicked off with a reception in the Exhibit Hall to bring merchants and vendors together.
Shop.org attracts large retailers, many of them brick-and-mortar chain stores, and the solutions in the expo hall are targeted at high sales-volume merchants.
I covered a lot of ground in those two opening hours, talking to companies that provide robotic warehouse systems, international fulfillment services, gamification and "offer science," multi-channel management and CSE/paid search and email marketing.
The PayPal-branded booth stood out but actually housed many companies thanks to eBay Inc.'s acquisitions, including PayPal, Magento - and even Pepperjam, an affiliate marketing company that ended up with having eBay Inc. as a parent thanks to eBay acquiring GSI Commerce.
I asked what PayPal was pitching to the large retailers in attendance, she said: Express Checkout, Point of Sale and Mobile.
Left: May Chen-Contino shows off tchotchkes at the eBay/PayPal booth at Shop.org.
Most interesting conversations were with Mark Schreiber, CMO & Founder of Fanplayr - he said his company is the first to be integrated into eBay's X.commerce Fabric, its program for 3P developers that lets them integrate with all of eBay's offerings, including Magento and PayPal. He said he was excited about it because it gives him access to "big data." His company provides personalization and gamification services to online merchants.
I also got into a conversation with Bill Leber, BusDev for Swisslog Logistics, a competitor of Kiva robotics that Amazon recently acquired for making its distribution centers more efficient. He said it was a great development for his company, since retailers who don't want to use a service owned by Amazon are looking for alternatives.
On Tuesday morning's opening address, National Retail Federation (NRF) President and CEO Matthew Shay paused for a moment of silence for those lost in 9/11, eleven years ago today. He then briefly talked about how much mobile devices have changed in the past 10 years, and then gave a very high-level talk about the retail industry.
The NRF has a "Retail means jobs" campaign - retail has seen 25 months of consecutive growth, NRF is trying to educate people about the retail industry. And he mentioned the lawsuit NRF announced on Tuesday:
The National Retail Federation Board of Directors has authorized the Federation to go to court to block the proposed $7.25 billion settlement of a federal antitrust lawsuit over skyrocketing Visa and MasterCard credit card swipe fees that cost consumers hundreds of dollars a year.
Sucharita Mulpuru of Forrester Research, emcee for the conference, gave a quick presentation - she said that while retailers are focusing on mobile retail applications, they are not preferred by shoppers (only 11% would rather use the retailer's mobile app than the retailer's standard website). Regarding mobile payments, Mulpuru said "the walletless world" is futuristic rather than a reality today. She then introduced Tuesday's keynote speaker, Toys R Us Chairman and CEO Jerry Storch.
Storch addressed the media reports of "the demise of big box retailer" with the keynote theme, "Episode 3 - the stores strike back." He spent a lot of time doing a reality check of common misperceptions and defended the brick-and-mortar retail stores and why they were not doomed to be replaced by Internet only giants.
I had a chance to ask him about same-day delivery after his keynote (he said it was on the slide and he had meant to talk about it in his address). See the writeup of Storch's keynote in today's EcommerceBytes Newsflash newsletter.
It's a full day today of visiting vendors in the exhibit hall, attending a panel on community and crowdsourcing, and a podcast about the impact of Google Shopping on online merchants.
Follow all the tweets coming from the conference with the Twitter hashtag #shoporg12 (also check #shoporg) and stay tuned for more coverage.