Day three of a conference is when the excitement starts to fade, right? Well, apparently no one at Catalyst Americas got the memo.

The coffee may have been flowing a little harder this morning (after a lively Catalyst party last night) but everyone showed up ready to learn.

A (Very) Fine Morning

Luckily, Scott Stratten came onstage to deliver a sardonic shot of energy to the bleary-eyed, early morning crowd.

The UnMarketer quickly brought everyone to attention by addressing the “F word” of retail: Fine.

How was your experience with us today? Fine.

For anyone in retail, that exchange should be terrifying. “Apathy is a killer in our environment,” he said.

“Whatever consumers think upon seeing a product is your brand, added Scott. “It’s your job, as a marketer, to either reinforce that impression or disprove it.”

He boiled the focus for brands down to three types of customers: ecstatic, static and vulnerable. The worst kind, he says, are “static,” because they’re comfortably indifferent to you and your brand.

Using witty digressions and real-world examples — the retailer that immediately addressed a poor 3PL experience, the online seller with a memorable return policy — Scott encouraged those in the room to identify what’s really keeping more consumers from pulling out their wallets and coming back for more.

“As retailers, we like to shift blame to everyone else,” he boldly stated. “It’s easy to blame Amazon. Or showrooming. Or blame millennials. But the burden of customer experience is on us.”

Next up, Silicon Valley’s most prominent journalist shared deep insights on technology trends impacting the industry and touched on challenges around topics ranging from artificial intelligence to robotics to Amazon.

“It’s going to be a really bumpy decade for everyone in e-commerce,” said Kara Swisher.

Throughout her keynote, Swisher emphasized the need to differentiate and come up with ideas that’ll make your company stand out — whether that means having an offering the big players can’t compete with or figuring out how to be genuine in your interactions.

From Final Click to Final Mile

The last keynote of the day was about the one thing many retailers and brands most wrestle with when preparing their online strategies: fulfillment.

Lila Snyder, executive vice president at Pitney Bowes, explored the disconnect between consumer expectations and actual policies and practices. For example: While 97% of retailers provide shipment tracking on outgoing deliveries, only 7% do the same for returns — even though customers have shown a tendency to check on in-transit packages an average of eight times.

Snyder also detailed strategies around getting inventory closer to consumers, picking the right carrier, using data to communicate and developing fulfillment strategies for international customers.

Yes, Snyder said, 47% of customers are frustrated with their post-purchase experience. But have sellers gotten worse at fulfillment? Probably not. Consumer expectations have simply evolved. It’s up to sellers to stay ahead.

So… how do you optimize the post-purchase experience for customers? After detailing several ways to do just that, Snyder was joined by Rithum CEO David Spitz to announce a new partnership with Pitney Bowes to power the platform’s new Shipping Management Suite.

Your Catalyst, Continued

And… that’s a wrap!

People come to industry conferences for any number of reasons. Some come for specific, actionable tips. Some come for facetime with new partners and old friends. Some come to have their worldview challenged.

Our hope for Catalyst Americas 2018 was that you were able to have the most optimized experience possible for you. Whether your Catalyst was strategic, tactical, philosophical or even social, we hope you made it your own.

Hopefully, you encountered speakers that inspired and challenged you. Hopefully, you made connections that will bear fruit. And hopefully, you have a new array of tips and strategies to optimize your operations in 2018 and beyond.

See you next year!