#IRCE15 Key Takeaways for Leadership Teams

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We’ve had a few days to recover and reflect after last week’s IRCE15, and we can confidently say we are thankful for the experience. We had the opportunity to meet so many great people, learn about innovative companies, and returned to the office energized about our industry. 

After an event like IRCE15, we sit down and consider the most salient points from the experience. What did we learn that we can start incorporating into our everyday lives and business efforts? Where can we do better? What tactics can we start to implement this month or this year?  How can we improve our product to better serve our customers in the changing ecommerce landscape? What knowledge can we share with our clients and peers? 

With these questions in mind, we’ve put together a few of our key takeaways from IRCE15: 

Build the Relationship 

It’s not exactly groundbreaking to say the customer should come first in retail, but customer relationship development has more tools than ever before and customer expectations are high. No longer is having a good website enough, customers want to see and interact with brands on social media channels, mobile, email, and then, once they come to your website, they want a smooth experience. 

In his keynote address, Target’s Jason Goldberger opened IRCE15 by telling attendees they need to ‘say yes’ to customers - even if it means short-term pain and lower profit margins because the benefit of a long-term loyal customer is worth so much more. 

The next day, Chris McCann, president of 1-800-Flowers, echoed those sentiments in his own keynote: “Build relationships first, business second.”

Reddit’s Alexis Ohanian gave a rousing talk about the power every consumer has in today’s economy. And, if brands caters to those customers, it will pay off in dividends. 

This was his sage advice: “It’s a great time to be a consumer and great time to be a businessperson or brand—if you’re insanely focused on consumers. If you aren’t focused on the consumers, you probably aren’t having a great time.”

Other speakers, like Kevin Gardiner from Macy’s, gave insight on growing trends like in-store pick-up, which is becoming more popular in the U.S. 


Yep, mobile isn’t going away. In fact, it’s only becoming even more vital to provide customers a good experience on mobile devices. Not only is the mobile platform being used more and more for purchases, it’s also a great tool to engage consumers.

Check out this stat from Target:  

Text messages, coupons sent to a mobile phone when in-store, and social media engagement are just a few of the ways brands are leveraging mobile users. The key is to know your customers well, so mobile engagement is in line with their behaviors and interests. 

Tailor your message

One of the big themes of the conference (and a major trend for e-commerce) was personalization.  Richard Armour from GameStop gave a great talk on how they use omnichannel and personalization tactics to stay competitive. Their loyalty rewards program members account for 71 percent of sales – a staggering amount.  

Multiple sessions were devoted to discussion and tactics of personalization: 

And it’s hard to argue against the value of personalization with numbers like these:

It’s OK to fail (just learn from it) 

An unusual theme emerged over the course of IRCE15 – the necessity of failure. Both morning keynote speakers – Target’s Goldberger and McCann of 1-800-Flowers – talked about business failures and the importance of learning from the experience.

Addressing Target’s very public website and app failure when the Lilly for Target line debuted earlier this year, Goldberger didn’t beat around the bush. He even showed customer tweets about the debacle (see below).  Intensive testing and planning went into the launch, but Target still fell flat on its face. Why? Goldberger said a reliance on six-month-old data was part of the problem. In today’s fast-changing marketplace, Target wasn’t properly prepared. 

1-800-Flowers President Chris McCann said the flower delivery giant strives to stay ahead of the technology curve. They have had successes from riding these new waves of change, including being early adopters of toll-free calling and creating one of the first ecommerce websites in 1991. They’ve also investing in trends that haven’t paid off (i.e. creating a virtual storefront on Second Life). 

Change is Constant; Innovate

If we had to choose one takeaway from IRCE15 it’s this: Don’t be afraid of innovation. It’s what drives businesses forward. Ecommerce has the ability – and perhaps the necessity – to be pioneers of technology.  

Technology is changing fast – and consumers are adopting tech trends at a rapid pace – so retailers have to keep pace, or be left behind. 

What did you learn?  

We count ourselves fortunate to have attended IRCE15 and we’re looking forward to continuing our relationships with new friends and customers. What did you learn? What tips, trends, and takeaways are you bringing back to your office? Share your thoughts in the comments below or catch up with us on Twitter @getslatwall.

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