Since 2008, when eBay stopped its annual eBay Live! trade show, internet retailers — retailers who sell merchandise on their own website or a large online platform, such as eBay, Amazon and Etsy — have been looking for an event where they can learn about the latest marketing and management strategies, meet representatives from companies that provide goods and services to increase profits, and hey, just have a heck of a good time schmoozing with other retailers from around the country.
For the past few years, Internet Retailer Magazine has filled the void with its annual Internet Retailer Conference and Exposition in Chicago. I was privileged to speak at this year's conference last week, and my head is still spinning. If you sell merchandise on eBay or Amazon, are serious about building your online business and have to attend a retailer event each year, this is the one for you.
When I attend a trade show, I spend a fair amount of time wandering around the exhibition hall looking for small companies with unique or different solutions to problems internet retailers commonly face.
Here are some companies and solutions I learned about at the IRCE:
Don't you wish you could get more favorable reviews of your products on Amazon? Heck, don't you wish you could get ANY reviews on Amazon? Snagshout, a Seller Labs application, facilitates this for you. Simply list your product on Snagshout and shoppers purchase it, test it and write an honest review. There's no guarantee the review will be positive, but reviews generated through Snagshout stand a much better chance of being taken seriously, as it is clear nobody is trying to cheat the system.
Have you ever wondered what really makes a consumer want to buy something? For years I thought it had to deal with consumers' fears and passions (see my YouTube video called "How to Sell Anything to Anybody"), but it seems that MECLABS, a MarketingSherpa service, has come up with a mathematical algorithm that analyzes the statistical probability of a consumer buying something from an online store. The formula is: C - 4m + 3v = 2(i-f) - 2a, where "C" is the probability of conversion, "m" is the consumer's motivation (when the consumer will buy), "v" is the clarity of the value proposition (why the consumer buys), "i" is the incentive to take action, "f" is the friction created by the sales process and "a" is the consumer's anxiety about entering the information.
Got it? Well, I didn't go far beyond algebra myself, but the MECLABS equation may just have solved one of the oldest riddles in business.
Do you need to send a package to Kazakhstan in a hurry? Shiptor provides expedited shipping services to all former Soviet republics, as well as many other places with names you probably can't pronounce. And no, the CEO's name isn't Borat.
Do you hate processing merchandise returns and dealing with customers who refuse or are unable to follow your return policy? Returnly takes all the hassle off your shoulders, helping you manage your time and avoid customer complaints.
A customer wants to purchase an item on your site, but it's currently out of stock. NChannel automatically searches 75 internet platforms and posts listings of the item on your site, enabling you to "drop ship" the item so you don't lose the sale.
Do you want to create a dynamic internet marketing strategy, but hate writing ad copy? BKA Content is a copywriting service that specializes in web retail campaigns.
Are you looking for a one-stop shop digital marketing agency, a company that can handle any marketing needs, including content marketing, search engine optimization, paid research, social media, lead generation, mobile and whatever else is coming down the pike next? With a team of 25 professional digital marketers, Web Talent Marketing is poised to take traditional internet marketing consulting services to the next level.
Are you thinking of sourcing merchandise in India, but have no way of verifying that the goods aren't counterfeit? Valley Point Technologies not only locates manufacturers and distributors in India but has representatives who check merchandise in person and certify that it is genuine.
Let's say you have a website that sells all kinds of shoes. A customer visiting your site looking for sneakers doesn't want to see all the dress shoes and stilettos you offer shown on your home page. Don't you wish you could change the home page based on the customer's profile to only show sneakers and then revert back to normal when the customer leaves your site? Wish no more. This technology does exist, and it is offered by Retail Automata Analytics.
Cliff Ennico ([email protected]) is a syndicated columnist, author and former host of the PBS television series "Money Hunt." This column is no substitute for legal, tax or financial advice, which can be furnished only by a qualified professional licensed in your state. To find out more about Cliff Ennico and other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit our Web page at www.creators.com.