The Best Moments from Paris Retail Week 2016

Paris Retail Week this year was a hit: the perfect opportunity to learn from the best, and network with the brightest. With #ECP16 trending as the top hashtag on Twitter for the three days during the trade show, there was tons of great information to take away from this year, and even more great advice to implement into your e-commerce strategy.

The biggest recurring theme to Paris Retail Week was called “Augmented Retail,” the phenomenon opening before us in the E-commerce industry where technology and users exist in a symbiotic relationship. Each morning, the conferences were opened with this guiding theme, welcoming speakers from everywhere for their expertise on how we can better respond to the users of 2017.

With the customer becoming ever more demanding, and omni-channel user needing a brand response wherever they happen to be, with immediacy. With the ever-present rise of m-commerce and the trending virtual and augmented realities taking hold across all sectors, the e-commerce professional of 2017 will have to be quicker, ubiquitous, and above all, retain the human touch in the conversation with the user.

In case you didn’t make it to Paris Retail Week this year, you missed quite a bit. But never fear, we’ve compiled the biggest and best moments that we think you’ll enjoy. There were three main themes that kept appearing throughout the show:

  • Utilizing new technologies and trends to reach your customer
  • Expanding your horizons through crossborder e-commerce
  • Putting the customer at the heart of your communication through omnichannel

What the Experts said about New Technologies

In an age where virtual and augmented reality are booming in popularity, and with m-commerce taking a strong hold on the e-commerce market, mobile shopping and optimization was a grand theme that many of the experts approached during Paris Retail Week.

Samuel Burlac lead the way on the Augmented Reality front, giving us practical uses for e-commerce:

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Not to be outdone, Haptic Media went viral on Twitter during the show with a short video displaying how augmented reality could be used via a user’s mobile device to “try on” products.

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Facebook even weighed in on the subject stating that 83% of their user base consulted Facebook almost exclusively on mobile, and while this has always been the case for Twitter, it’s a relatively new phenomenon for the social media giant.

In fact, though we already knew that the majority of Facebook’s video consumption was done via mobile was without sound, there were quite a few people who wanted to talk about the power of video in marketing.

Using augmented and virtual reality really took a turn towards the practical side of mobile use in e-commerce with a focus on brick and mortar establishments. We talked about how customers were using their mobiles in-store to complement their purchases, and how this trend was already booming amongst users.

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Mobile was a huge focus towards the end of Tuesday and during the beginning of Wednesday with a conference centered around m-commerce called “How Mobile Technology boosts the Purchasing Pathway.

During this conference, there was a lot of great insight into the trends and user demands when it comes to m-commerce, which is quickly gaining ground within the e-commerce industry. Facebook even weighed in on mobile, stating that 83% daily Facebook use was exclusively on mobile.

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The three pillars of mobile marketing became a centerpoint of the discussion, stressing that in order to reach a user, you needed three things:

Context:

The information needs to be relevant to the user based on what they’re looking for and what they want. Many of the discussions throughout this conference focused on how to interpret and identify what the customer want through the use of data.

Immediacy:

For mobile users, speed is everything. The quicker a service is, the better a chance you have to reach a customer on mobile, and the customer is quick to bounce directly to the competition if there’s the slightest hiccup in your mobile UX.

Intimacy:

In order to appropriately reach your customers, you need to approach them with an intimacy that shows them that you know who they are and what they want. You need to show them that you are human and connect with them on a personal basis. This is a running theme throughout the conferences that I’ll get to again.

Just after this massive conference, we launched into E-mail marketing with a focus on the annual SNCD e-mail study: “Users and Trends in E-Mail Marketing in 2016.” Speakers of NP6 Laurent Garnier and Sandra Jezo lead us into the insight that they got from their study.

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This was a huge piece of insight- with the right marketing campaign, you could be either the first thing in front of your customers’ eyes when they wake up in the morning, or the last thing they think about before bed. We’d also received the information that the ideal campaign was 5.75 e-mails per month, or roughly once per week. Any more and you’d risk your user unsubscribing to your e-mails.

Of course, an unsubscription isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

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With over a third of participants having bought a product or service from a brand from whom they’d unsubscribed, this proved that an unsubscription doesn’t mean the death of a brand/customer relationship. This proves that an unsubscription is an opportunity to offer insight into your e-mail strategy without a total loss in sales.

Cross-border: How to go Global

The second big topic out of Paris Retail Week was the focus on cross-border e-commerce. We kicked off the discussion Monday during the Special Session FEVAD: “Europe, the new frontier for French retailers” with Paypal’s Sophie Ancely, who stated that French E-commerces were already targeting customers in neighboring countries, and even further.

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Patrick Labarre of Amazon offered a solution for these retailer in his keynote “The Keys to Expand your Business Internationally,” where he announced Amazon’s new Pan-European FBA (fulfillment by Amazon) allowing sellers to target customers throughout five different European countries.

However, the biggest event centered on this topic was by Alibaba’s Sebastian Badault. His keynote “Develop E-Commerce in China, Myths and Realities,” was a center topic throughout Tuesday.

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The five myths he debunked during the conference:

  • The Chinese E-Commerce market is stagnant: Actually, the e-commerce market in China grows by 5% each year.

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  • The Chinese e-shopper is less evolved than Western ones: The truth is that mobile commerce took a lot quicker in Chinese markets than it did in Western ones, and that the Chinese shopper and merchant do almost all of their purchases via mobile.

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  • The Chinese consumer isn’t looking for Western products/isn’t interested in French products: Au contraire, Chinese consumers look to Western products for perceived quality. These consumers look for French products when they’re looking for fashion, perfume, and for regional, exotic goods.
  • You have to be present in China to develop within the market: with the rise of popular marketplaces like Amazon and Alibaba, you no longer need to even speak Chinese to sell to Chinese consumers.

This keynote was one of the most insightful of the day, debunking myths about selling in China, one by one. That being said, cross-border e-commerce was a recurring topic throughout Paris Retail week, with a certain subject coming up each time:

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While addressing the cross-border topic, experts were quick to advise that there needed to be a local connection with your target market, including when targeting internationally. No matter who spoke at Paris Retail Week, the biggest theme was personalizing your approach to the customer, whether you’re selling domestically or internationally.

Putting the Omni-Channel Customer at the Heart of your strategy

With each of the incredible speakers at Paris Retail Week, we covered a lot of different topics. However, there was one topic that each expert came back to again and again: the customer.

There seemed to be a consensus: no matter whether you worked directly int he B2C e-commerce business, or if you were a solution provider, or both, it is imperative that the customer not be forgotten. François Loviton of Google has the following to say:

cstk3cywcaatnza  This level of “human” in digital was a very tangible subject for many of the experts, who emphasized the need for a personalized human approach to the customer of 2017. We were reminded of how quickly a customer can, and will, abandon and that we needed to engage our customers on a much more real note: “Your customer is always just one click away from the competition.”

These conversations tended to focus on the omni-channel customer, a customer that is present on, and expects brand interaction, on several different channels at once, forming a coherent conversation. Knowing our customers on each point of contact can be used to make personalized offers, a point which the omni-channel customer appreciates.

Brice Chapolet of Facebook had quite a bit to say about the omni-channel customer, stating that they were likely to look at their mobiles up to 150 times per day, each of these instances being an opportunity for a brand to start the conversation.

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With the majority of purchases moving across different channels, Chapolet showed us how important it is to be present and to have the same brand identity and presence on all channels where we find our customers.

This means that we need to know where our customers are, meaning what channels they frequent. This might seem like old news, but what’s important with the customer of today is that a brand needs to understand and respond to the customer’s needs on each and every platform, on a consistent basis. Antoine Gay of TagCommander drove this home:

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Regardless of how your customer behaves on any channel, be it social media, your site, or any other platform where they are present, a brand needs to understand the intentions behind that behavior and respond by offering the customer what they want. This type of insight is integral to the relationship between the brand and the customer.

The trick to being able respond and engage the customer in this conversation, is with timing, and it has to be perfect.

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As Christel Hennion of Petit Bateau offers, the way to reach your customer and develop the relationship is by offering exactly the right message to the right person at the right time. This notion pushes retargeting, upselling, and bringing the customer back into the conversation after they’ve gone.

For Maëlle Gavet of Priceline, Social media was the way to go when starting the customer conversation. She stated that conversion was not necessarily the best use of social media (as it “needs some work” as she stated) but that conversation needed to be the focus:

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But how do you apply this practically? John Hadida of Google had insight to offer on the subject, stating that a user goes through three primary stages on their way to becoming a consumer:

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When the user is in the first phase, your brand needs to be present to start the conversation. With an omni-channel user looking at their mobile up to 150 times a day, being present in the mobile sphere and offering communication where your target will look is the best way to reach them.

At the second phase, your communication with the customer takes a deeper approach, offering more information. This is the most control you have over the conversation, and it’s imperative that you make it count and not give your customer the slightest reason to bounce. Data is your friend in this phase, so use it to interpret what your customer is looking for and what the best message to send is.

The second phase can quickly turn into the third, with the user becoming the customer. The most important thing for you to do in this phase is to not put obstacles between your customer and the purchase. Hadida continued his keynote, offering the strategy behind Google’s customer relationship:

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Hadida explained that part of Google’s customer strategy was to make their algorithms more predictive and automatic for the consumer, offering a seamless experience with their technology.

Cyril Olivier of Kiabi weighed in on the customer relationship, stating that making personalized customer relationships a stressful subject wasn’t the way to go about it. He stressed that interactions need to seem effortless, and above all, human.

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Regardless of whether you were at Paris Retail Week, or if you preferred to follow it on social media, this event offered some amazing, and sometimes shocking insights into the customer of 2017.

At the end of Paris Retail Week, this is what was meant by Augmented Retail. Whether or not you were looking at offering your customers an engaging experience with AR/VR interfaces, or if you focused on optimizing your mobile use for the customer 2017, Paris Retail Week always came back to putting your customer at the heart of your operations, and reminded us all that they should always be the focus of what we do.

As media partners of E-Commerce Paris and Paris Retail Week, I’d like to take a moment to thank the teams of E-Commerce Paris, Paris Retail Week, and Equip Mag for curating amazing content, magnificent speakers, and welcoming e-commerce players from around the world to take part.

I’d also like to thank the teams of our partners present at this event, Lengow, Web & Solutions, Wizishop, Prestashop, VE Interactive, and Promo Salons UK for engaging with E-Commerce Nation and helping us communicate on this event. You guys are all awesome, and from Maxime, Stevens, Nicolas, and me, thank you for rocking this event. See you all next year!

What was your favorite part of Paris Retail Week? Tell us below or tweet us!

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E-Commerce Nations's Director of International Content and E-Commerce enthusiast. I love everything concerning design, marketing, social media, and the latest in digital technology trends.