Innovative Marketing Agency

eTail West: How E-commerce is Driving the Economy and Sustainability

Last week, I had the privilege of immersing myself in the dynamic world of e-commerce at eTail West, representing PureRed as a dedicated Board Member. Despite my experience at various retail conferences like NRF and Shoptalk, this was my first foray into the eTail conference, and it proved to be truly enlightening. 

I made it a point to take full advantage of the conference, delving into the bustling exhibit floor while reminding myself why I keep wearing high heels, participating in informative panel sessions, arranging insightful one-on-one meetings and engaging in spontaneous conversations at the hotel lobby – where some of the best discussions often unfold. My goal was to deepen my understanding of the vertical in ways I hadn’t explored before and to showcase how @PureRed is empowering brands to move faster and smarter with their intelligent pricing and promo platform – PR1. 

What struck me most profoundly was the eTail vehicle’s crucial role in driving exponential growth within our economies, particularly in supporting small businesses. According to the Small Business Administration, small companies in the U.S. generate 1.5 million jobs annually accounting for 64% of new jobs in America. They also contribute to 44% of U.S. economic activity, underscoring the significance of enabling their growth. 

Among the myriad of innovations showcased, I was particularly captivated by the evolution of last-mile infrastructure, which experienced exponential growth during COVID-19. Interactions with innovative companies like aftership, Narvar and WonderNext emphasized the importance of real-time package tracking and seamless brand experiences. Narvar, in particular, highlighted the power of data in ensuring delivery time accuracy, addressing a significant consumer frustration and potentially reducing cart abandonment rates. 

Furthermore, discussions with industry leaders like Shipbob highlighted the transformative power of distributed warehouses in enhancing flexibility and convenience for consumer brands. Recent partnerships with giants like Amazon demonstrate the potential for innovation in e-commerce fulfillment services.  Apparently, they recently did a deal with Amazon delivery. While I struggled to find more information on the partnership, I discovered that industry veterans from both Amazon and Uber have joined. By digging into its offering – I could see how it could become one of the best e-commerce fulfillment services. 

When combined with accessible website solutions like Canva and Wix, and streamlined integration with platforms like Shopify, barriers to entry for aspiring entrepreneurs are lower than ever before. Reflecting on the challenges faced in the early days of e-commerce, it’s remarkable to see how far we’ve come. 

Equally lowering the barrier to entry for services and products, as consumers’ living costs are increasing and interest rates are unmanageable for many, Pat Suh, SVP of Revenue for Affirm, discussed how consumers are leveraging BYPL not for just traditional retail but also health insurance and services with significant costs associated (such as Botox). As the costs of entertainment increase, I can see how leveraging BYPL for tickets such as the SuperBowl could come in handy, as the average Super Bowl ticket for this year, according to CBS, was $8K, and last-minute tickets were going for as high as $30K on resale platforms such as SeatGeek. 

At the core of all my discussions was the omnipresent influence of the customer in driving business growth and evaluation. While influencer marketing remains relevant, the emergence of Trusted Advisors is gaining importance, particularly among Gen Z and Alpha consumers who prioritize trust in their purchasing decisions. Solutions like Desire Company—Trusted Advisors at scale—offer a promising alternative in this evolving landscape. 

I also had the honor of leading a panel on consumer influence and the importance of understanding customer personas empathetically in a data-driven era. We discussed the significance of co-creating with customers and the repercussions of missing the mark on customer segmentation. 

The discourse also emphasized the imperative of embracing sustainability initiatives within the e-commerce landscape. As Jon from Avery aptly stated, “Just do something.” At PureRed, the commitment to sustainability drives our efforts to reduce environmental impact while enhancing business growth. Through the PR1 personalized digital platform, we’re making strides in reducing paper waste, resulting in significant cost savings and improved conversions for our partners. 

Finally, my conversation with Melissa, a Modern Retailer reporter, underscored the private sector’s pivotal role in championing sustainability and driving positive change. Events like eTail catalyze these crucial conversations and foster collaboration towards creating more sustainable systems. She made this statement that landed with me: “The e-commerce industry is still building something from the ground up, and I have to believe it’s not too late to prevent the same mistakes of the last century in terms of resource extraction, pollution and humanitarian abuses. If someone can attend an event like eTail and get inspired to think differently, we can begin to collectively create more sustainable systems.” 

As we navigate an ever-complex business landscape, let’s leverage the inspiration and insights from events like eTail West to collectively build better businesses and help brands and entrepreneurs create customer experiences that enrich lives while ensuring a greener future for all.