As most of you may already know, ChannelAdvisor is a very large and diverse multi-channel management solution. The conference named Catalyst is much more than a sales pitch for ChannelAdvisors various online sales solutions. At Catalyst, attendees find service and solutions providers covering a complete spectrum of ecommerce and online merchant business.
The solutions presented are from eBay and Paypal to Google, Overstock, Hosted Solutions, Frooition, AsWas, American Express, ShipWorks and more. The business of doing retail business online is covered at this conference.
We all arrived at Pinehurst, the fabulous golf resort in the Sandhills of North Carolina (originally built in 1895) and were greeted by the very gentile and accommodating staff. I spent the afternoon settling into my room in the Manor (built in 1923) and checking out the shops & restaurants in the village at Pinehurst.
The first day's event schedule was consumed mostly by a Golf tournament event.
The opening keynote speech featuring Chris Shimojima, VP of global electronic commerce for Nike, started at 6PM in the Grand Ballroom of the main historic Carolina Hotel at Pinehurst.
The point of the speech was apparently intended to inspire the audience to look for innovative ways to reach a target audience. While that point is quite valid, in my opinion the speech was more of a marketing spiel for Nike and less an inspirational or educational effort meant to teach the audience how to succeed as marketers in new and innovative ways. I say this because the two examples Nike presented here (Nike +, a custom shoe configurator) and (Nike ID, an electronic device which tracks runs and provides feedback via the Ipod and your computer) could only be accomplished as marketing programs by a company such as Nike with a development and marketing budget to match.
When I presented this point to Mr. Shimojima after his speech in open question form, he responded that Nike does not have a large marketing budget. I found his response to be a bit off base, especially after just witnessing the presentation which highlighted a 6 year development time on one project, multi-million dollar "test" marketing retail locations in Tokyo, New York City and London, and endorsements from movie and TV stars and professional athletes including Tiger Woods. Could this indicate Mr. Shimojinas presentation may have a more appropriate audience on Madison Avenue?
I appreciate ChannelAdvisor's efforts to bring the attendees of Catalyst a real powerful example of how innovation can help a company succeed, but unfortunately in this case the presenter spent more time promoting his own products than sharing real actionable techniques with his audience. This may have been a bit of an overshoot, a missed-the-runway sort of presentation. The audience is here trying to learn how to build a business into something like Nike. The Nike Corporation did not start out with the resources it has available today to innovate in the marketplace. Maybe a more down to earth example of real world success from a peer or possibly newly minted eCommerce success story would have been more appropriate, rather than hearing words and a sales pitch from the mountaintop of one of the ultimate brands in the world.