Highlights from IRCE 2014: Richard Cohene’s & Brendan Falkowski’s Presentations

I spent most of this past week attending the 2014 Internet Retailer Conference and Exhibition (IRCE) in Chicago. Now that I’m back and have had a chance to wade through my email, I wanted to share my overall impressions of this year’s event and my take on the two best presentations.

First off, Chicago is a world-class city and was the perfect place to host the largest-ever IRCE event, which boasted more than 10,000 attendees from approximately 3,000 different companies. The event agenda was packed and the schedule was filled with informative sessions.

Below are a just a couple of standouts from a very solid lineup of talks this year.

Richard Cohene: Putting Mobile at the Center of Everything

In my view, Richard Cohene really captured the spirit of the event and the enormous opportunities in mobile commerce today with his presentation called Mobile from 360 Degrees: Putting Mobile at the Center of Everything. Cohene heads up Marketing at Beyond the Rack, a flash-sale e-retailer that offers deep discounts to its nine million members.

Beyond the Rack (I’m proud to say they’re a Mobify customer) has a seriously compelling mobile success story, and Cohene tells it well. The title of his talk refers to the company’s “all-in” approach to mobile, which it initiated in 2012. Since then, the share of the company’s total web sales from smartphones and tablets has increased by more than 40 percent.

In his talk, Cohene emphasized the importance of doing everything possible to make the mobile shopping experience fast, easy, and rewarding. He went on to describe how Beyond the Rack tailors the experience to different devices.

For example, the company started with an m-commerce site and then discovered the huge opportunity in developing a tablet-optimized site. Beyond the Rack found that customers who use a tablet to make purchases spend an average of $170, while its desktop customers spend an average of $100. Clearly, the company’s data-driven approach to mobile commerce is working, and the audience at IRCE was paying close attention.

If you’re interested in learning more about Beyond the Rack’s mobile optimization strategy, consider checking out Google’s case study.

Brendan Falkowski: Two Approaches to Responsive Web Design

Another particularly acclaimed session was delivered by Brendan Falkowski, who runs a responsive web design firm called Gravity Department based in Pennsylvania. In his talk, titled Two Approaches to Responsive Web Design: Pure and Hybrid, he described the most common mobile website optimization strategies, including RWD, RESS.

One of the key take-aways from Falkowski’s talk was that creating a proxy website makes for a broken cross device experience while negatively affecting your website’s hard earned SEO rankings. This leaves you susceptible to competitors outranking you on SEO.

Overall, IRCE 2014 was a fantastic learning experience. It’s always fun to be surrounded by professionals who are so enthusiastic about e-commerce and the promise of the mobile web.

I’m looking forward to next year’s event already!