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Shop.org 2016 Digital Summit Roundup

Steve Tutelman

As predicted, the Shop.org 2016 Digital Summit in Dallas last week lived up to its promise and delivered some new perspectives on digital retail. We got to hear from top-notch visionaries and marketers who are grabbing new technologies and trends by the horns.

This year’s event was full of Texas-style diversions—an armadillo race and both mechanical and live bull riding, to name a few. I didn’t ride any bulls, mechanical or otherwise, but I did sample some mean Texas barbeque.

If you couldn’t make it to Shop.org this year, here are the top takeaways we brought home from Dallas.

The Holidays Are Already Here…

The end-of-year holidays seem to start earlier and earlier. Though it was only September, many of the marketers I talked to at Shop.org had already put the finishing touches on their holiday campaign plans for Google Shopping, Facebook, and beyond.

If you’re still preparing your holiday strategies don’t worry, there’s still time, and we have tips you can use in your Google Shopping campaigns right now. Get a refresher on what you need to gear up for holiday with our e-book, 10 Moves to Master Seasonality in Google Shopping.

Making Mobile Seamless

Not surprisingly, mobile dominated plenty of discussions I had with attendees at Shop.org. Mobile traffic continues to rise, but converting this wave of traffic remains a challenge.

As retailers strive to convert mobile traffic, they’ll aim to further improve their customer experience on mobile devices.

I heard several inventive steps that marketers are taking to optimize their sites’ mobile shopping experiences, from creating mobile-friendly checkout pages to streamlining the entire purchase process down to one click. There’s also a renewed focus on seeking out the best channels for converting mobile traffic.

The Next Place to Be on Mobile: Facebook

Based on what I saw at Shop.org, Facebook could become a top priority for marketers looking to convert mobile users.

Facebook’s Maz Sharafi delivered a fascinating take on the omnichannel customer experience, and where Facebook fits in the customer journey. The world’s most popular social network aims to situate its mobile properties at the center of product research, discovery, and purchase.

If you’re not exploring how Facebook can get you in front of potential customers on mobile, you’re missing out.

Maz’s colleague, Nicolas Franchet, said that Facebook believes it’s only “1 percent finished” when it comes to online retail, and shared that 91% of Facebook’s 1.7 billion users access the site on mobile.

Our latest research suggests that this focus on mobile is paying off. We’re seeing that average mobile ROAS for Facebook dynamic ads is 12.02, while average mobile conversion rates is 6.2%.

Bottom line: If you’re not exploring how Facebook can get you in front of potential customers on mobile, you’re missing out. Check out this guide to get started.

The Next Generation of Retail Marketers

With all the college kids on the floor at Shop.org, I suspected for a moment that I might have been in the wrong place. It wasn’t until later, when I found out that Shop.org held a student program for computer science, IT, and engineering majors, that the numerous young faces I saw at the event made sense.

Online retail is a quantitative field—and one that’s growing more complex daily. To be a marketing all-star, you’ve got to be comfortable dealing with vast quantities of (often unstructured) data and the tools needed to decipher meaning from it all. It’s a sign of the times that retailers are hard at work grooming the next crop of marketing leaders with deep backgrounds in statistics and computing.

The Next Frontier in E-Commerce

I never caught the Pokémon Go bug, but I did finally get to witness some augmented reality in action at Shop.org. There was an AR fitting room booth where attendees could “try on” virtual garments and accessories that really opened my eyes to possibilities of this new technology.

AR still sounds space-agey to a lot of marketers, but Shop.org showed that there are plenty of reasons to take it seriously.

During Shop.org, we learned that brands are using AR to show shoppers how their wares will look and function in their homes. Furniture, apparel, and beauty retailers are among the innovators, and it makes sense: They sell items shoppers typically want to see or test out in person before they buy.

AR still sounds space-agey to a lot of marketers, but Shop.org showed that there are plenty of reasons to take it seriously.

So what conclusions can we draw from the event?

Shop.org in Dallas showed that online retail is increasingly quantitative and mobile, and new technologies and channels are positioned to help marketers meet those challenges. As retailers strive to convert mobile traffic, they’ll aim to further improve their customer experience on mobile devices.

If you’re looking for a place to focus for the days ahead, read more about optimizing Google Shopping campaigns for mobile during the upcoming holidays in this blog post.

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