Talking with Internet Retailers at IRCE 2013

During the first week of June, several of us at the Global Data Consortium attended the Internet Retailers Conference and Exposition (IRCE). We went to meet retailers, logistics players and commerce platforms who shared interest in international address and identity data.

As you can see we had a nice booth (that’s me there), where I spent maybe a total of two hours over three days enjoying our tidy trade show digs. The rest of the time I was out talking to folks (with one stop off at Suitsupply a hip Chicago clothing retailer). From approximately 200 attendees, exhibitors, and presenters who I traded business cards and engaged with, international and cross-border commerce were recurring themes. Everybody is trying to figure out how to tap international growth. The challenges that seemed common surrounded reach/marketing (language and local checkout internationally), delivery, and payment.

Specifically, international parcel shipping can be difficult and expensive. Moreover, poor quality and likely undeliverable international addresses were a problem. We met some great consolidators who can help there if anyone is interested.

Also, there are legitimate fraud concerns. How do you really know who you are dealing with? And most of the world likes to pay with cash. There was enlightening discussion on this topic in one of the panels I attended with Lee Cheng of Newegg and Federico Torres of Traetelo. According to Lee, Cash on Delivery (COD) is so common in China that it has hastened lightning-fast delivery services that race to the consumer, as the first order to arrive is the one that will be purchased. The Chinese consumer goes so far as ordering from two or three places to see who delivers the item first and tells the losers, “No thank you.” In LATAM Federico touched on how Traetelo has developed a cash-based payment offering to align with these preferences. Federico also shared a great visual of going global that showed a person crawling, then standing, walking, and finally running to convey the journey of getting cross-border commerce right.

Those take aways highlighted some negatives. Here are some reasons to be optimistic:

eBay’s Cross-Border Trade team believes that Brazil and Russia hold the keys to its future and is investing heavily. They shared a great video with eye-popping BRIC nation growth stats.

Rakuten is going from 10 to 27 countries with its “Empowering Merchants” message. Hiroshi Mikitani gave a fine talk and I could tell the organization was authentic about helping the individual merchant succeed in its marketplace. Here is Hiroshi announcing the acquisition of Webgistix, a U.S. based fulfillment operation with an envious warehouse footprint.

Finally, not only did the Australian Post have some great trade show swag with the Australian Rules Football (see picture…still practicing three points of contact with Junior), but according to their team 30 percent of the volume they deliver down under is from the U.S.

IRCE was a solid conference to engage a wide breadth of actors in the internet retailing space. We liked it because we walked away feeling good about our focus on what unifying the best of breed global address and identity data providers can facilitate. We made many new acquaintances and learned about several opportunities to apply the capabilities that we have been building.