What a way to spend three days in North Carolina! Catalyst 2008 was a informational bonanza held at an unbelievably beautiful and historic resort. There was more to talk about than the accommodations or the hosts. I have approximately 30 pages of handwritten notes compiled from the three days of sessions and meetings at Catalyst 2008.
I also had quite a flight delay due to weather last night so please excuse me if I do not get all my thoughts out in this one post.
Let's just summarize the Highlights and I will go into greater detail in future posts.
- Meeting Joe Schaefer and the people from Jellyfish.com (a Microsoft acquisition) on the ride to Pinehurst from the Raleigh-Durham International Airport on a shuttle provided by PayPal. Jellyfish is a new way to use pay per action advertising and I think anyone interested should check them out. Nice people too!
- Keynote Speech - Chris Imegima - Nike - Seeing the magical ethos of Nike and how they can use the significant power of branding and celebrity to push forward innovation in marketing and design was a pleasure. Hearing all of the self promotion marketing speak was less than impressive, as I have already stated. Nike is a wonderful brand and I am certain everyone in the room (which was also filled with wonderful brands) could have learned something from Nike; I am just not sure we were privy to any actionable information or could apply what Nike is doing to any other brand or eCommerce operation. Afterall, is Catalyst not an eCommerce event?
- Scot Wingo - Keynote of Day 2 - ChannelAdvisor Update - Scot obviously has a handle on the pulse of eCommerce. His presentation on day 2 was more than about the status of ChannelAdvisor; the presentation covered almost ever aspect of online sales and eCommerce, trends, predictions, profits and possibilities. This was a no-holes-barred review of the year past and the future for not only ChannelAdvisor and their clients, but for the industry as a whole. Main points included:
- Shopping via search is 41% of gross while direct to site is down to 20% and dropping.
- People find products through search.
- Amazon is increasing sales
- Yahoo is increasing in search,
- eBay's decline has leveled out.
- Comscore Q 107 is showing a slowing of eCommerce trends, yet ChannelAdvisor clients has seen a 19% increase year to year.
- Scot Wingo sees plenty of growth for multi-channel merchants - "Don't listen to pundits"
- eBay only sellers - "Missing out on 75% of the pie"
- Google = 60% Market share in USA / 80% Rest of the World - Search is very important as is long tail and Google checkout showing a bump in click through rate.
- Older Comparison Shopping Engines declining in traffic & importance while new CSE 2.0 sites like Jellyfish, Ciao & Pronto are growing fast.
- eBay - GMV growth slowed to 8% vs 20%, active users NOT growing, fixed price is growing and top buyer issue is shipping. eBay growth is slower than eCommerce and changes are bountiful.
- Amazon - Growth is faster than eCommerce, Amazon Prime is primary factor and Amazon.com growth is up 40 - 50% year to year.
- Major Announcement - Buy.com and CA form partnership - No integration fees for CA customers with full access to 11 million Buy.com customers.
As you can gather, Scot's speech held a great deal of information and for a non-shorthand note taker, I think I gathered most of the important points here. There were more, to be sure, but overall I think the tone was positive and factual, not self-promoting...a real refreshing change from standard CEO type presentations. Scot seems more the analyst type than a self promoter - he shows the facts and follows the information. This may be why his CA products are so well received. With the data ChannelAdvisor includes in their products, it is hard to argue with the value.
- eBay - See my last post about eBay's presentation with PayPal - I will write more about some of the details from this presentation in a detailed post on another day. The highlights were few and far between but not all was lost. I will keep you posted.
- Social Networking - a panel discussion including representatives from Buy.com, Canvas on Demand and Abe's Books. In summary, my impression from this discussion was that the panelists had not seen a significant bump from social networking marketing. The general consensus seemed to be to not invest a great deal of time or money into social networking unless you have a clear plan and see real benefits. Some social networking efforts have paid off, especially opening up your eCommerce website to the use of customer generated reviews. Reviews drive sales and create dynamic fresh content for SEO. Another point: If you plan on populating sites like Digg, Stumble Upon or Twitter with your own content, be transparent. Do not submit content without a clear understanding for the reader regarding your association with the product. Finding conversations about your niche and joining is a recommended practice.
- Life Cycle Model Small Business Infant to IR500 - Scot Wingo moderated a discussion including several merchants who started with very modest beginnings and have grown online businesses into major brands.
"eBay is a Firehose." said Bill Frische of Dyscern. "No channel provides more traffic."
The consistent message from this panel is all of these sellers continue to use eBay, even when the other channels and their own websites provide a great deal of revenue. eBay is still a great place to find traffic and new customers. You must know what sells where and how and never keep stock longer than 28 days; older stock is sold on eBay. All of these sellers sell internationally. With the dollar what it is, you must sell globally.
Best Investment - "Make your own website." - Jacob North SophiaStyle.com
"EBay is training wheels for eCommerce" - Scot Wingo
Worst Investment - Shopping.com (Source asked to not be quoted)
Overall this was a very informative panel discussion by sellers who have been there and done that.
In my next post, I will get into detail regarding the rest of Day 2 and the insights provided by Mr. Vince Monical of Google, plus the very interesting 10 person focus panel of local Internet shoppers from the surrounding Pinehurst community in our next post. Day 3 was very interesting with a "Pimp My Site" demonstration put on by fellow eBay stores designers Debbie Levitt, Andrew Main and Jeff Dyksen and it ended with a great presentation as the final Keynote with Ben Ling of Facebook.
Also look for a more in depth article on our sister blog Allbusinessauctions about the creative ways companies like 3balls.com and Fleegolf have used the power of trade ins and trade up merchandise to build a business based upon eBay and eCommerce. Coming Soon.