Lessons Learned from August’s Vancouver E-Commerce Town Hall Meetup

August's Vancouver E-Commerce Town Hall meetup

Photo on Meetup by Francis Pilon

Mobify hosts the regular Vancouver E-Commerce Town Hall meetup series, which attracts a considerable number of local companies, along with some well experience e-commerce professionals, developers and leaders.

This month’s meetup focused on the complexities retailers deal with as they deliver customer experiences to omnichannel touchpoints.

As technology in e-commerce and bricks and mortar stores evolves, it becomes more challenging to balance taking advantage of the latest opportunities with persistently attending to the foundations that never change, such as knowing the customer, and positioning yourself to their needs.

The panel, which included guests from Mountain Equipment Co-Op, Lululemon, London Drugs and Old Faithful Shop, discussed the increasing demands of keeping up with the pace of changing technology.

Each panel guest cited difficulties in giving enough attention to new vendors and new tools – many of which promise to improve customer experience and enhance business results.

On New E-Commerce Technologies

Though many new e-commerce technologies are relatively untested in the market, some turn out to be key in shifting the needle for e-commerce innovators, and for that reason, many e-commerce marketers and leaders are keeping a sharp eye on previously unheard-of tools, with an interest to get the next advantage over competitors.

Some examples cited at the event included advanced personalized follow-up emails to customers and also adjustments to the website based on customer data. Though simple from a customer’s point of view – and highly effective for the business – such improvements can be very challenging to implement due to complexities in backend technology, and existing systems, processes and resourcing.

On the Complexity of the E-Commerce Technology Stack

Another key issue discussed by the panel was the complexity of the e-commerce machine itself. In an environment where there are multiple moving-systems, and one where every API, plug-in and add-on are small tools which, when combined, form the well-oiled machine that runs the online business, managing complexity is paramount.

This complexity raises many questions, and indeed challenges, around continual maintenance, where every piece is dependent on other pieces and many require updates due to forced upgrades or replacements over time.

A key insight from the evening’s discussions was that any e-commerce leader needs to approach every technology decision with careful inspection to reveal any dependencies or potential points of failure, prior to committing to a solution.

Simplifying the integration process is a goal for many vendors, however anecdotal evidence from the panel suggests that few actually manage to create that simplified integration experience and process in reality.

Closing Thoughts

With so many like-minds in the room together, it’s easy to understand why the room was buzzing with so much energy. In spite of the volume of data and information available online, the complex challenges involved in growing an e-commerce organization make face-to-face interaction far more appealing, and effective for e-commerce leaders.

Get Involved!

We’re looking forward to hosting the next e-commerce meetup here in Vancouver, and would encourage any locals in the industry to come and join us. Likewise, if you’re in the neighbourhood for a visit, we’d love to have you drop by and check out the group discussion and brainstorming.

If you’re further afield, our recommendation is to look for ways to connect locally with like-minded folks – whether it’s a formal meetup (meetup.com is a great place to start), or if it’s a more casual group get-together organized via LinkedIn InMails, or local introductions, you’re sure to find some answers and great new things to consider by opening the discussion to local peers.

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