Monday, April 07, 2008

CitiGroup's Take-aways from ChannelAdvisor Catalyst 2008

Mark Mahaney of CitiGroup attended the ChannelAdvisor Catalyst Conference in Pinehurst, NC last week and had these things to say about the event.
  • Last week we attended the ChannelAdvisor (CA) Catalyst Conference 2008 in Pinehurst, North Carolina. Per the company, attendance was up over 50% to roughly 500 people, with participation from companies like Amazon, eBay, Google, Overstock, Facebook, Buy.com and many large, medium and small retailer clients.
  • Takeaway #1: ChannelAdvisor clients not yet seeing macro-economic slowdown -- Biggest surprise to us was the general consensus among the retailers we spoke with that they were not seeing much impact from macro-economic headwinds (...yet?). Consumer spending remains strong in many categories and sellers were confident that their multi-channel strategies can continue to fuel growth.
  • Takeaway #2: eBay appeared confident that changes are working despite vocal seller pushback -- eBay is determined to make the changes necessary to reaccelerate Core Marketplaces. Representatives from the company sounded resolved on eBay's commitment to improving buyer experience and seller transparency. Per the company, the desired impact from fee changes, "best match", and detailed seller ratings (DSRs) appears to be working.
  • Takeaway #3: Amazon strengthening its 3rd party offering -- Upbeat presentation by AMZN focused on 3rd party seller opportunities was well received. AMZN provided an overview and demonstrations of the company's services, highlighting how the program is 1) driving increased selection, 2) improving customer experience, 3) increasing traffic and 4) lower prices.
  • Takeaway #4: Strength of Google position continues to widen lead over competition -- While we didn't hear anything incrementally new from the Google presentation, consensus among sellers we spoke with who had added search marketing was very positive on both traffic and ROI trends.
  • Bottom Line - Conference was incrementally more positive on eCommerce/Search trends than expected.

I've heard some good things coming from the conference, unfortunately I missed it for the first time in several years. The anecdotal evidence appears to indicate that sellers are being very practical about the recent eBay changes and managing their business accordingly.

From what I've been hearing coming out of the conference, there was a lot less complaining being done. Many sellers are already into their second or third year of multi-channel selling which lessens the impact of eBay changes.

Over-all, it appears from my discussions with sellers, they have taken control of their business and are now managing eBay, rather than being managed by it. This is something I suggest for all sellers.

With the announcement that Buy.com is opening their marketplace to 3P sellers and Amazon is expanding their offerings, it is clear to me that 2008 is the Year of the 3P Seller. I suggest you take hold of your business and maximize your use of each option, tailoring your inventory and offerings to each marketplace.

Just my 12%

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