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It’s Just Commerce Now: Internet Retailer Conference 2011

Convergence. It’s a theme that’s been on the tip of everyone’s tongue at the Internet Retailer Conference & Exhibition 2011 in San Diego. It’s in keynote speeches and PowerPoint decks; on marketing brochures and booth graphics. Whether it’s the blurring of lines between offline and online commerce via mobile, social and local forces, the impending union of the Web and television, or even the collision of print and digital news media (the themes of the show’s first three keynotes, respectively), convergence is everywhere at IRCE 2011.

Convention Center Exterior

It’s not exactly a new concept—you may have previously referred to it as multichannel or cross-channel or even connected commerce—but it seems to have now reached maturity. As Chris Payne, VP and Head of eBay North America, put it in his morning keynote address, “It’s just commerce now.” It’s no longer about offline vs. ecommerce vs. m-commerce vs. social. It’s about putting all of the above together to seamlessly provide consumers with the best experience no matter where they’re shopping or how they’re doing it. And as Kurt Peters, Editor-in-Chief of Internet Retailer, remarked in his introduction, the retailers that win will be the ones that can best deliver that experience.

There are no more channels. It’s just commerce now.

Presentation Summary – Chris Payne, VP and Head of eBay North America

Chris PayneThe most relevant presentation of the day was Chris Payne’s morning keynote. After an introduction about the company and its divisions, he expanded on eBay’s new retail vision called “Commerce 3.0”, the intersection of offline and online shopping. That vision involves connecting buyers with sellers of all sizes—from the sole proprietor on eBay’s marketplace, to enterprise retailers with unique technology and services needs, and everything in-between.

Chris stated that prior to the proliferation of mobile, social and local, the store was at the center of the consumer experience. But those technologies have now put the customer firmly in the center. In practice this means that buyers no longer distinguish between offline and online—they expect the same experience no matter how it comes about.

The company plans to use its recently introduced X.Commerce open source platform to deliver Commerce 3.0. Further details about the future of X.Commerce will be revealed in October at eBay’s first developer network conference.

Other Random IRCE Tidbits

  • “Self expression is the new entertainment.” -Arianna Huffington, explaining the appeal of social media and online collaboration as elegantly as I’ve ever heard
  • A room of keynote attendees was asked, by show of hands, who had used Facebook within the past 24 hours. Nearly the entire room (thousands) raised their hand. But when asked how many had also used Facebook to buy something in that span, only about three remained.
  • There is a dedicated cell phone charging booth on the trade show floor. Brilliant.
  • I had not previously heard of eBay’s Group Gifts before, but it seems like a really cool tool (hint, hint).

That’s all from the first day of Internet Retailer 2011, as it’s now time for this blogger to converge on a networking block party. Look for additional IRCE coverage in the coming days, possibly even including some video.

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