I have just returned  from the Internet Retailer Conference in San Diego. This is the biggest show that we attend and the one where we have the largest presence. Because the show is fairly close to our office we had a lot of people there – I counted 22. It was fantastic fun seeing current and future customers, and partners and learning about some of the new stuff.
IRCE 2011 Booth 1_s

For me this is the third show that I’ve been to in the last 4 weeks, The other two were Ecommerce Expo in Manchester and Online Retailer Road show in Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne, Australia. A gruelling travel schedule but apart from seeing very little of my family for the last four weeks it has been very rewarding. One overriding theme that I have been getting from the customers I met during my travels is that they are very happy with the service they get from us. I heard from several that we are one of the best vendors that they deal with. It was great to hear this because we put a lot of effort into making our customer service the best it can be and it’s nice to see the evidence that this is working.

With over 500 vendors, multiple streams and workshops I feel like I missed out on a lot of good information at the show. However there were plenty of interesting bits and pieces I did pick up. Here are some of them…

A novel approach to getting answers

George Eberstadt, the founder and president of TurnTo Networks showed me their question and answer service for retailers. The novel thing they do is when someone asks a question about a product an email is sent to people who recently bought the product. They get a great response from this which means people get good answers to their questions in a timely manner. He had some good stats about the uplift they saw for their customers. I can see why this works. I would be likely to answer a question about a product I had just bought in this situation. Sending the question to people who have just bought the product is a great idea. Like most great ideas, it seems pretty obvious once you hear it. but I hadn’t heard it before.

Having the same URL for mobile and the web

Igor Faletski, the founder and CEO of Mobify was telling me about their approach to producing mobile websites. Like others they translate existing pages into mobile optimized pages. Unlike others they use client side JavaScript to do this which means the URL is the same whether you’re on a mobile page or the normal page. This means people aren’t sharing mobile URLs and has a number of other advantages. I thought it was an interesting approach.

Paying people to like you

While I was sitting on the floor eating lunch I was chatting to a couple of reps from a San Diego company whose name I forget (sorry). The interesting thing they told me they are doing for their customers is offering people a discount on some purchases if they “like” the product. I thought this was interesting from a couple of perspectives. The discount may help close the sale in the first place and secondly, by sharing it on facebook they are telling their friends about it. I expect the retailers will be able to maximize the benefit by paying to promote likes on facebook. But what this will force them to do is to try and quantify the value of a like. Something else I hadn’t seen before.

2B searches/quarter on eBay

Chris Payne, VP and Head of eBay North America talked about their strategy to provide infrastructure to retailers of all size, the standard eBay for Mom and Pop retailers, and their new acquisitions Magento and GSI for  medium and large retailers. He shared that in the last quarter there were over 2 billion searches on eBay. That got me thinking – how many searches did we serve across our customers in the last quarter. One of my team looked it up – just over 700 million. We’re working to catch up with them.


Finally Kiva had a great display showing their robots at work. Who doesn’t like robots?