March 2008 - A Message From ERA’s Education Committee Chair

ERA’s Education Is Retail-Driven 

By Brett Goffin

On the triumphant heels of the 2007 ERA Annual Convention education series, I assume the chairmanship of the Education Committee. The Education Committee’s mandate is to serve as the voice of its members in terms of knowledge acquisition. The Committee offers opportunities for professional growth and development; adds to the body of knowledge in the arena of convention programming; and recognizes excellence in performance and achievement in convention programming. The bar is high, yet my colleagues on the Committee, in concert with the ERA staff, are committed to delivering progressive, relevant and practical tools and solutions with a focus on increasing sales and offering innovation to retailers.

In line with that pledge, topics and themes were developed for the eRetailer Summit-which took place March 2-4, 2008 at the InterContinental Hotel in Miami-through discussions with the Committee, retail members across all channels and the Retail Council. I am pleased to say that the results provided attendees in Florida with a valuable, relevant and useful series of sessions. In addition, attendees were offered two luncheon keynote addresses.

Because video and social networking have become anchored in our culture-and, indeed, are proving to be undeniably successful features in online advertising-the Committee developed two educational offerings on Monday, March 3, which included “Earning Attention with Video” and “Creating a Successful Blog Marketing Program: Safely and Effectively.” Experts from Ogilvy Public Relations, Brightcove, Avenue A/Razorfish, Resource Interactive, Triangle Direct Media, HSN and Frankfurt Kurnit Klein & Selz, among others, discussed the essentials of balancing the technical and creative components of how to profitably reach consumers. Immediately following these sessions, the Retail luncheon featured Brian Cusack of YouTube, who delivered a keynote address. Because of YouTube’s extraordinary popularity, Cusack’s presentation offered attendees an inside look into a company using broadband technology and the impact the video destination has had on society.

In addition to standard education, market research was identified as a major member benefit. On Monday afternoon, Forrester Research unveiled the latest ERA-commissioned study concerning how consumers navigate the multichannel landscape.

This market research de-mystified the often multi-informational process consumers use to navigate through the purchase funnel. Such topics as consumer behaviors, the needs and wants of multichannel purchasers, how they shop, the role of different elements in the marketing mix and how retailers may profitably and effectively market to them using different channels were discussed.

The Education Committee also established that, in order to understand consumer shopping behaviors, retailers have a keen interest in optimizing their customers’ experience online, as well as developing a better understanding of how to serve consumers. On Tuesday, March 4, these topics were addressed in two sessions led by representatives of eFashionSolutions, Fandango, Cisco, University of California’s Sloan Center of Internet Retailing, QVC,, Hewlett-Packard Home & Office Store, Oreck and others. Offering a complementary and over-arching view, the luncheon keynote address was presented by Jacob Hawkins of Speaking to the strategies for making consumers’ online shopping experience easier, Hawkins illuminated Overstock’s successes and associated profitability.
Profitability, after all, is the key to retail success and the Committee agreed that it was important to offer a session on financial models and reporting tools. The afternoon’s interactive discussion, led by Stephen Petrucci of Caliber Direct Inc., offered tools and real-life examples of how systematic evaluation instruments such as forecast models and performance metrics will improve retailer marketing strategies.

I trust the eRetailer Summit attendees found value and a clear return on their investment through the conference line-up. In order to afford each participant an opportunity to network with the speakers, time was allotted to do so after each session. On behalf of the Education Committee, I welcome your feedback and thoughts about this year’s eRetail Summit, as well as suggestions for the 2009 conference.

Brett Goffin is an industry development manager for retail at Google. He also serves as chair of ERA’s Education Committee.


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