The Commerce Exchange in York is the first specific eCommerce conference day-long event to be held in the city. Organised by Ryan Atkins, Director and Co-Founder of The Distance, a creative digital agency located in Skeldergate, York. It took place on 8th April 2015, the day before another digital conference; DotYork was taking place. Clearly, York’s becoming home to more and more technology-focused businesses.
Being such a local event and given that I’ve had some interest in learning about the topic of online retail for some time now, I thought I’d go along and see if I could pick up anything from the various sessions being held throughout the day. Here’s what I thought of it…
It’s been a few years since I last attended a digital conference, specifically Think Visibility 9 that was held in Leeds. With many digital marketing topics, as good as they are, once you’ve heard about and learnt the basics, attending such events can sometimes become more about a networking opportunity to catch up with friends in the industry – which still usually makes for a good event!
However, with that in mind, I’ve been consciously trying to find new types of events this year, where you can get an introduction of the basics of various topics. And then use it as a launching pad to go away and learn more about them, much like I did when I attended the a4u Expo conference a few years ago. Therefore, in that sense, The Commerce Exchange was a great event to attend.
First of all, the venue for The Commerce Exchange was the Priory Street Centre, which is a voluntary sector conference centre. It provided a smart, decent-sized space with ample facilities for the event. It’s located within an easy walking distance of the train station and main Park & Ride bus routes – and who doesn’t like a short walk around York in the springtime?
Also, Priory Street Centre did remind me of being an old-style stone building, perhaps a primary school that had been renovated. I’m not sure if that is the case, but it was very similar to my old school. Anyway, it was a nice environment to spend the day at this event and there were no major problems, background noise or interruptions.
All the speakers were professional, knowledgeable and presented well. Here’s a quick rundown of the topics covered and my personal key takeaway from each session at The Commerce Exchange…
Richard Hatfield – Grazia Shop – How Grazia is adding to its editorial content business model with an eCommerce store component.
Content marketing is your ‘owned media’ and equals long-term value. Try to follow the Research, Execute, Analyse, Optimise method – especially when you’re trying to create “evergreen content”.
Kunle Campbell – Rapid eCommerce Growth
There are different types of eCommerce, some of the fastest growing eCommerce companies in recent years use these business models:
- Try Before You Buy – product demos like Warby Parker, keep what you like, send back the rest.
- Product Discovery – curation/membership boxes like Graze, Naked Wines, Quarterly.
- Replenishables – re-supplying consumables on a regular basis like Dollar Shave Club, Harry’s – main competitor will likely be ‘Amazon Subscribe & Save’.
Fabrice Michel – PPC Case Study of mobilephonesdirect.co.uk
Several useful Adwords advertising tips, including how you can use extensions to significantly improve the look and usability and therefore CTR of an ad for your business.
Ti Osnat – The ‘Natural Baby Shower’ eCommerce Story
The key challenges and lessons learnt from a growing eCommerce business including the very important one of when you should make the move from doing everything yourself. At a certain point, spending your time on tasks like ‘packing boxes’ is inefficient, when you could be using that time to maximise sales and grow your business like ‘finding new products’.
Lynne Wright – AWA Conversion Rate Optimisation Case Study of Northern Parrots
Depending on your market or niche, your customers can be very passionate about the things they are buying or the purpose for which they’re buying. So when they do buy from you, order values can be high and on a repeat basis. The difference between success and failure to sell can add up to a large amount, therefore the key question to improve the shopping experience should be – “what thing nearly caused you not to buy today”.
WebCertain – Translation vs Localisation
An automated literal translation for your online business is the quick and easy option when it comes to international eCommerce. Manual localisation is usually the better option to take account of perfect language and grammar, cultural factors and specific search engines/online services. Google isn’t the big number one everywhere, depending on the market, you’ll need to work towards different standards and services.
Chris Raven – Camden Market – Iconic London Market to Global Online Lifestyle Brand
The key to expanding the brand reach can be the connecting of customer data-points in a fully integrated system using Customer Retention Management (CRM) as its primary focus. This allows you to increase customer revenue by providing a highly customised experience for each individual throughout their whole relationship with the brand.
Usually, at a conference, you get a decent buffet on offer, sandwiches and the like, but not at The Commerce Exchange! Not only was lunch provided, it was prepared on-site by The Shambles Kitchen, a local provider of healthy fast food lunches located “on the most picturesque street in the UK”. I thoroughly enjoyed my healthy and tasty chicken-based meal…
Overall, I would say that The Commerce Exchange was a great first eCommerce conference in York. Given the price of the ticket of £60 (or even £40 if you used the discount code), this event offered brilliant value for money, a wide range of topics were covered by professional, high-quality speakers, both in terms of knowledge and presentation skills. Thanks very much to everyone involved!
Going forward Ryan Atkins will be continuing to organise the regular Commerce Exchange regular meetups. So if you’re interested in eCommerce in the York area, or perhaps anywhere in Yorkshire, or just need a good excuse to visit York, then I’d suggest signing up for the email newsletter so you can keep up to date with everything that’s happening regarding future meetups and conferences.