A team of DEGers attended Shop.org 2017 in Los Angeles last week to kick off the beginning of retail’s busiest season. Not only was the weather fantastic, but so was the content. We took full advantage of soaking up every piece of knowledge possible.

Related: Four data insights to drive your holiday marketing strategies.

Oh, and did I mention Tyra Banks was a keynote speaker? I mean, it wouldn’t be a trip to LA without at least one celebrity spotting!

Shop.org 2017 keynote

Shop.org 2017 provided a chance to hear what other digital experts saw as new and fading trends.

As a digital agency, the conference theme—This is Digital—seemed fitting for us and gave us a great opportunity to hear what the leading experts in the digital and ecommerce world see as new and fading trends. Not satisfied with just gathering knowledge during the conference, we carried it on into the evening. DEG hosted a networking happy hour, with a great city view, at The Standard Hotel Rooftop with BounceExchange, Localytics, and Return Path.

While we weren’t able to attend every session, we were able to attend several. Laura Madden, senior relationship marketing strategist at DEG, compiled a few key takeaways from Shop.org 2017 below.

The Amazon Factor

In retail, we know Amazon is the giant everyone wants to beat. One keynote speaker even had a slide up with King Kong and Godzilla, but he renamed them Walmart and Amazon. At Shop.org, there was a recurring theme of not “how to beat Amazon,” but rather “how to differentiate yourself from Amazon so your customers’ have no choice but to choose you over them.”

A recurring theme was not “how to beat Amazon,” but rather “how to differentiate so customers have to choose you.”

Compete on things like personalized products and services that make your customers feel special. In one breakout session, a panel of startup brands introduced the idea of specifically doing things that aren’t scalable—special events for your best customers, handwritten thank you notes, etc. That’s something you won’t see from Amazon anytime soon.

Shop.org 2017 graffiti art

Storytelling, Not Selling

Building off the idea of being a relatable business to differentiate yourself from Amazon, many sessions stressed the importance of authenticity and storytelling vs. traditional “selling.” One Disney executive noted, “Everything we do is in the service of storytelling,” while another Disney employee stressed that it’s not about the technology, it’s about the experience. “If people leave talking about the technology, we’re doing something wrong.”

UGC not only builds credibility, but also helps tell your brand’s story from the eyes of the customer.

But your brand can use technology to tell your story in a seamless way. Many sessions demonstrated how smartly using user-generated content (UGC) not only builds credibility with customers, but also helps tell your brand’s story from the eyes of the customer.

Need more strategies to help your ecommerce and other marketing programs in time for the holidays? Download our ecommerce ebook, “Building Your Ecommerce Strategy,” and check out our article in Marketing Land on preparing for a successful holiday season.

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