CommerceNext IRL: Three Key Take-aways

I recently returned from the CommerceNext IRL Conference in New York City. It was the first in-person conference I’ve attended since January 2020 – a span of 20 months.

I manned our exhibit at CommerceNext IRL for both days of the event and spoke with several dozens of retailers and I came away with three key take-aways.

Three Key Take-aways from CommerceNext IRL

1. Relationships are Key

The turnout at the event was great and it was heartening to watch so many people rekindle friendships – a reminder of just how important relationships are in our industry.

While I was at our exhibit, one of the CommerceNext staffers asked me “What was the best thing that happened today?” and I pondered that for a moment and then responded that it was great to be with my colleagues again, many of whom I haven’t seen other than on video conferences for those 20 months. As the young staffer thanked me for my response and started to walk away I stopped her and said, “Actually, it was the chance to meet Scott Silverman in person for the first time.” I mentioned to her that I’ve been working with Scott, one of the co-founders of CommerceNext, for the past two years but never met him in person and that I thought he was a great guy.” Her response? “I know, he’s my dad.” That made my day!

2. Supply Chain Concerns

When I asked what people were most concerned about, they responded with SUPPLY CHAIN. Given the past 18 months, it’s difficult, at best, to predict consumer behavior. Will people continue to buy online in the same manner they did last year? Will they return to stores? But, beyond that, what do retailers do when they don’t know what items they’ll be able to stock due to pandemic-related supply chain issues?

One person commented “I’ve got to figure out a way to sell what still going to be out on the Pacific Ocean for another two months.” In other words, how can I sell something today that I can’t deliver for a few weeks or months?

Fortunately, I had an answer for him which is to unbundle the purchase and delivery experience with digital gifting ala GiftNow. Our solution provides the ability for a customer to purchase a gift online now and have it digitally delivered immediately or at a future date. The recipient can receive the gift now, accept it (or modify it if they prefer) and then the sale is made for the merchant. The product can be shipped when it becomes available. It’s a win-win-win for the consumer, the merchant and the recipient who gets two gifting experiences – the digital one and then the physical one when the gift arrives at their door.

While this won’t solve all of the issues associated with supply chains, it can help.

3. Merchants are Increasingly Interested in Gifting Solutions

As a marketer, it’s extremely gratifying when people walk up to you at an event like CommerceNext IRL and say “I’ve heard of GiftNow and wanted to talk with you about how you can help with my e-commerce gifting and gift card needs.” I met with a lot of people who were experiencing challenges with their gift card solution or, in some cases, didn’t even offer one. They realized (somewhat in relation to the supply chain problems mentioned above) that gift cards could be an important component of their holiday gift offerings. They also recognized the opportunity to improve their e-commerce operations (and revenues) with a digital gifting solution.

And these merchants represented a wide range of products, from candles to sweaters, cosmetics to kitchen supplies, to wine and steaks. Many of these items are typically difficult to gift but, with digital product gifting and gift cards, they can be delivered via email or text instantly with the ability of the recipient to tailor for size or color, digitally exchange (if desired) and provide their desired shipping address.

We look forward to continuing our conversations with the merchants and appreciate the opportunity to share our insights and perspectives with them.

CommerceNext Panel Discussion
GiftNow’s John Grech discusses gifting at CommerceNext IRL

Hats Off to CommerceNext IRL

Given the circumstances, any in-person event right now is challenging to organize and manage but the CommerceNext IRL staff did a great job. It’s a credit to Scott Silverman, Veronika Sonsev and Allan Dick, the three co-founders of CommerceNext to organize such a great agenda with industry leaders.

As a marketer, wearing my event manager hat, I also have to really commend the conference management team led by Nell and Bri at Romelo Productions who made my life so easy by being so helpful, supportive and communicative. I also appreciate the precautions they took to keep us safe.

Hats off to the CommerceNext IRL team and I look forward to the 2022 event.

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