Recently, I have visited two great eCommerce conferences in the US and had a chance to spend a few days talking with the retailers from there. Actually, I didn’t do anything else these days apart from talks, but now I need to say that it was a fruitful experience.
After having talked to about 25 companies, I created a list of thoughts and observations that are worth to share from my point of view.
Retailers from US are very careful about Amazon. The company is known from being a hard player on the market. There were even some hot stories that appear during the conversations. As a result, some companies limit the cooperation with Amazon, the other are trying to find an appropriate balance.
The range of Order Management solutions in the US is really wide and it’s clear that everyone is trying to maximize their advantages. Amazon has its distribution centers but retailers have their own selling points and this could be their dominance.
It seems that retailers from the US are more open to marketing. They want to use new technologies, even if it doesn’t have any impact on business results. However, it’s a different approach than in Europe, this openness to innovation enables faster testing of new options and being ahead of the pack – especially when these new solutions really work.
Companies from the USA, basically, always sell globally by default. However, this is a global sale on the principles of the United States. The dominance of US strongly helps them, of course, but it seems these companies don’t try to understand customers from other countries. Retailers from Europe usually choose the approach of business internationalization – that is, local versions of shops, adjustments to regional principles. Shops from the US want to be global only – one set of rules for all the countries. This allows them to achieve the scale. Nevertheless, they all treat Europe as a nice extra 5% revenue, nothing more.
Conversations with medium-sized and small companies from the US are a never-ending litany of buzzwords and cliches: ‘You need to understand your customers, and their most important business goals’, etc. In these conversations there is less of our European “I don’t know” and more confidence. I don’t know if it’s better or worse, but these conversations were, therefore, less interesting :)
We are perceived as the ‘Land of Open Source’ and, as a result, IT companies from the US aren’t interested in cooperation with us as much as European retailers. ‘You have to pay your arm and leg for a good software’ – I’ve heard this statement many times. The US companies usually buy the Enterprise license and don’t consider other alternatives.
Everybody talks about it. It seems to be the really important topic there, opposite to Europe. We try to convince ourselves that the most important things are the price, the width of the offer and how fast the delivery is. In the US, retailers rather think about other possibilities – how to overdeliver.
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