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See what you missed at the Online Retailer Conference

See what you missed at the Online Retailer Conferenceonline retailer10

This year’s Online Retailer conference, held at the Sydney Convention Centre is now over. This year’s conference was the second of its type to take place 11 months after the inaugural conference took place in August 2009. Organised by Mark Harvey and his team at National Media, this year’s exhibition had a little over 4000 pre-registrations and 3316 attendees. Impressive considering last years attendance was around 2600 which was impressive in itself. This year, the exhibition area had a consistent throng of people and it appeared somewhat more mature than last year’s conference in which everyone was actively moving around networking and learning.



There were two keynotes each day. On day 1 (7 July) Bob Thacker SVP marketing and advertising at OfficeMax USA took us on OfficeMax’s journey of innovation and its ability to create great marketing hype. Overall a great presentation on branding, promotion and clever strategy. It was a bit thin from an Online Retailing perspective considering their position in the online space in the US. The next keynote was by Pinny Gniwish, founder of Pinny showed how understanding the customer and engaging them by adding video to the site amongst other things has clearly made them a leader in their field. Pinny himself was funny and engaging and certainly pointed out that thinking outside the square is key to survival.


On Day two Devere Forster, MD of Best Buy UK explained how Best Buy was working on a model that will allow its ecommerce site to be its flagship store with a planned rollout of a limited number of stores in the UK. Quality real estate is hard and expensive to come by and this is an interesting strategy, which is in stark contrast to the US Best Buy model. Josh Goldman from Norwest Partners provided a fantastic overview using an amazing visual technology to zoom in and out of different parts of his presentation. Josh explored the history of Online retail and social media and pieced together the growth phases and evolvement of social media, social commerce and the latest trends in ecommerce.

I found it interesting that there was a fair bit of talk about mobile yet it was strange that there was not much in the way of exhibitors focusing on mobile. I was also amused because my iphone had just died a day before the conference and the device I had become so reliant on let me down badly. This reminded me that as important as mobile is going to become, back up contingencies are needed especially when one is travelling and overly reliant on the device. Fortunately I use Gmail, Google calendar and Google Docs so all was not lost, I was able to retrieve my appointments and meeting times at the conference.

Two days at this conference is hardly enough time to meet new vendors and online retailers and say hello to old friends. Here is a quick overview of my meetings at the conference.

I met up with Jason Kang and Mike Karns from Last year we had a great time with Jeff and Bobby Beaver and Mike so it was natural to touch base and see how the Zazzle team are growing. Zazzle has taken the interesting step of adding silk screened products to their portfolio exposing them to a far larger market. Their Australian customer base continues to grow organically through word of mouth and Australian based “partners” or “members” promoting their designs on the Zazzle site.

John Debrincat demonstrated to me their new SaaS (Software as a Service) cloud computing model eCorner stores Plus product. This is an amazingly good value offering, for $122 per month they offer a fully operational website for hire as such, with full link ability to eBay as well so your products can be on offer on the eBay marketplace too. You don’t need to worry about setting up and building content management system, finding a place to host and manage the solution etc. It’s simply a case of signing up, populating the store with your products, and you’re away.

Neto solutions impressed me with their focus on integrating small businesses that utilise MYOB with their website, and offer a great start up solution for budding online retailers. A meeting with Jeff Clarke from Silverpop emailing solutions really highlighted how even we at can do things better, thanks Jeff, watch this space as we implement some of your ideas. Scott Silberman from shared some of his ideas for Australia.

Paul Downs shared his experiences at City Beach since go Live in December 09, what they have learned, what was done wrong and how they have changed it. It was interesting to see they have removed the social media links as they realised it was driving traffic AWAY from the site, and how they have narrowed down a critical list of KPI’s that they need to follow! This was followed by a brief engagement with Curtis Johnson from Salmon, the implementation partner at City Beach. Peter Domjen, gave me some insights into IBM’s websphere platform (Used by CityBeach and soon to be implemented by . A quick coffee stop with Jeremy Glass from Permission marketing opened my eyes to their strategic approach to segmented email marketing.

Paypal invited me to a lunch to discuss the state of online payments and its future. Mobile payments are an exciting area that was covered and Paypal certainly wants to own the space or as much as they can. Paypal suggested The ecommerce industry in Australia has seen rapid growth over the last year and is forecast to reach $33.8 billion by 2012 up from $AU24 billion last year. Frerk-Malte Feller, MD, PayPal, suggested caution when interpreting the results. Feller said in the last 6 months the average consumer spent $1,223 on online shopping, an increase of $130 from the second half of 2009. Click here for more information on this

eBay and had a fantastic presence, see their video below:


The boys at Google demonstrated their soon to be release offering called Google Commerce Search 2.0 a smart SaaS (software as a Service) model that will allow companies to deploy an on site search capability without having to manage on site hardware or changes to the site or any custom coding. It’s a great start yet in playing with the product on a demo site later in the day, I noticed that some searches did not produce relevant results, or showed up zero results for things that were on the site but not indexed properly. While on the topic of site search Shaun Ryan from SLI systems, one of the world leaders in site search demonstrated their site search for mobile phones (see their blog article on the rise of mobile, click HERE. New exhibitors that were absent last year and it was pleasing to see were, Gomez performance analytics (represented by, Akamai technologies, Fourfires solutions consulting, Brennan Technology and  Cybersource payment systems to name a few. Coghlan freight management systems really stood, out, with their test service. After registering at their stand, I received an email shortly afterwards that a test parcel had been sent to me. On arrival back in Melbourne a few days later, I found an Express post envelope with a sample despatch message demonstrating the strength of their integrated systems for handling 3PL (third party logisitcs) freight handling.


oria_online retail industry awardsOn Thursday 8 July at 7pm we attended a black tie affair for the Online Retailer industry Awards held at oria 1the Sydney Convention Centre. This was a glitzy affair hosted by James O’Loghlin. The top echelons of the Online Retailing industry were in attendance. The ABC shop won as online retailer of the year, and won the emerging star award. Click here for the list of winners, and more details on the event.


For those of you that missed the Online Retailer Expo and Conference event, pencil  next year’s event into your calendar 28-29 September 2011, this is not to be missed.

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Click HERE to see a porfolio of images from the conference

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