eTail East is pretty quiet. Apparently only about 1/3 of the people that were expected to come actually showed up. There maybe 800 people here, short of the 2000 or so that showed up in February. It’s hard to figure out because the speakers are from top brands like Saks, eBay, Petco and Ikea. Perhaps it’s the timing and location. Washington DC is a beautiful city, better in fact than last year’s location of Philadelphia, but not exactly ideal when it is 98 degrees outside with 90% humidity.
There is also the competition. The abundance of shows is always a challenge and Shop.org’s show is in September in Las Vegas (also warm, but a little better), so maybe it sounds more attractive. That didn’t stop Shop.org from hosting members at this eTail show in their hometown to a dinner. Sound like Google and Yahoo? Let’s hope not.
Despite the fact that the show floor is pretty dead during the sessions, when the breaks happen, the room fills, the traffic is reportedly good and the wheelings and dealing of the retail business is ever present. This proves that the content and names that must have drawn some of the people, were able to engage attendees. And attendees have stuck to the program. The morning sessions in the main hall were packed and the room must have held 500 people. Lots of Q&A and lots of people taking notes as Norm Thompson Outfitters, Zappos.com (a real crowd pleaser) and Redcats USA told their tricks for success, past mistakes and even what things they are looking to do in the future.
Most people are focused on making the Web experience even better. The trend at a lot of these conferences is to throw around phrases like Web 2.0, but this year people are getting down to the nitty gritty and talking about the technological things that actually can do that. Retail stores online still have a long way to go before they catch up to the latest in interactive advertising Web sites. Shop.org and eTail this winter started this techno-focused conversation and there were even murmurings at the gigantic Internet Retailer show, but this conference people have actually started fooling around with the instruments. Expect more user generated reviews, better search landing pages and more tools to investigate products like zoom on colors and multi-dimension viewing.
The parties have been pretty well attended too. Tonight’s party was all about the monuments, which would have been better at one of the monuments, since of course we are in DC, but then again it is 98 degrees out and an air conditioned soiree was definitely the way to go.