Last week, SmartBear’s AlertSite team traveled to the Internet Retailers Conference and Exhibition in Chicago (IRCE 2012). It was a gathering of 8,000 web developers, programmers, and entrepreneurs, making IRCE 2012 the largest online retail conference ever (18.3% year-over-year growth according to hosts Internet Retailer Magazine). The crowd was bustling and eager to learn about improving online retail success, perusing the vendor booths and eagerly awaiting speaker presentations.
The theme of the conference was “Connecting with the 21st Century Consumer.” As the conference website says, this modern-day consumer "is a pro in finding, pricing and comparing products online, and websites that fall short of the high satisfaction bar she sets are abandoned—and forgotten." That's why the AlertSite team at SmartBear believe that ensuring high availability and performance of your Web and mobile applications is more critical than ever. The most valuable take-away for us was hearing what was top-of-mind for companies as they pursue a commitment to delivering superior online experiences for their customers.
A few things we heard as top of mind concerns with retailers were:
- Monitoring performance from the user perspective (understanding metrics like above the fold load time)
- Understanding user experience variations across the leading browsers (Chrome, IE, Firefox)
- Holiday prep (with load testing)
- Understanding how APIs and web services (to support integration to social media platforms or payment processors like PayPal) are impacting user experience.
SmartBear AlertSite occupied booth 201, where attendees had their websites #TimedAt201—monitored for availability, load times and consistency over the course of the conference as part of our FaceOff competition. People were excited to see how their website fared against other competitors. The Alley Chicago, a local tattoo and piercing parlor, came away with the best overall performance. JaE from The Alley stopped by the booth on Thursday to snap a picture with Eugene and the SmartBear AlertSite team. JaE took home a remote control Bluetooth Ferrari and an iPod touch to drive it with… a little speed to reward his speedy Web performance!
JaE with Eugene and the AlertSite team
The vendor floor was packed with new and innovative solutions from the 564 businesses on site. AlertSite, a regular at IRCE, enjoyed its first year at the conference as part of SmartBear. With the SmartBear name came a SmartBear himself, Eugene! Eugene traveled to IRCE for his first trade show. He was a huge hit! His favorite part of the conference was meeting many elated AlertSite customers and, of course, the complimentary massages courtesy of Baynote.
Eugene styling in the airport prior to IRCE 2012 and relaxing at the Baynote booth
Overall, the post-conference sentiment was very positive. Twitter was alight with impressed and pleased attendees.
The key takeaway from IRCE this year was the importance of technology in connecting with and keeping customers. The ecommerce field moves so quickly; it’s easy to fall behind. Technology can be a threat to customer experience and loyalty, or, when embraced and prioritized, can be an invaluable tool to ecommerce success.
How will you leverage technology to ensure delightful customers experiences?
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