The 13th edition of IRCE (Internet Retailer Conference & Exhibition) just recently took place in Chicago. This is claimed to be the largest e-tailer conference in the world with well over 100 speakers, close to 500 companies exhibiting, and more than 10 000 conference delegates.

entrance of IRCEAn event like this obviously covers a range of different themes and perspectives of e-commerce. Looking at the agenda and listening to key note speakers from brands like Sephora, Under Armour and Kidbox, several key trends crystallize for the US. Personalization, personalization, and some more personalization.
Plus, the personalized customer experience is coming to your mobile!

Having access to extensive customer data and combining that with faster-than-ever digitalization makes it possible for brands to interact with customers in remarkable ways. How about letting your jogging shoes tell you if you’re running in the most optimal way, or letting an algorithm decide what kind of clothes your children should wear?

But then again, are we sure that we really want this?

Keep an eye on our blog during the coming weeks as we will be covering how US industry leaders plan to build customer loyalty and increase online sales.

Olof Källgren, Market Information Manager, Direct Link

Are you working very hard to always give your customers the best experience? According to the Nobel Prize winner in Economics, Daniel Kahneman, it’s enough to give them a peak and a good last experience.

How come that a low-cost airline and British Airways customers are equally satisfied? The answer is obvious when you hear it. It’s all about the expectations we have for a company and a brand. And these expectations are a tool we can work with.

“We humans are negatively conditioned. To find fault is in our DNA since the Stone Age. Being skeptical of, for example, different berries could save us from dying of poisoning,” says Jordan Berkowitz, Creative Business Partner EMEA at Google.

Daniel Kahneman, researcher "Peak-end rule"

Daniel Kahneman

Research says that if you give the customer a bad experience, you must give five good experiences to weigh up, which really is an impossible level to hold. But luckily, we humans have a bad memory. That is why you don’t have to give excellent experiences all the time. It’s enough with a peak and a good ending. This is called the peak-end rule and was created by the Nobel Prize winner in Economics, Daniel Kahneman.

As an entrepreneur, you cannot always influence every part of your customer experience, but if you can create the last impression, take the opportunity.
For example, an airline has no influence on how customers are treated in passport control. Say that the airline would have a person meeting you just after the less fun experiences to empty the pockets and be scanned by a machine. One person who offered a bottle of water and welcomed you to the flight. “Regardless of queues and controls, the experience of the airport visit would be positive at the end,” said Jordan Berkowitz.

The peak-end rule is why packaging and delivery are so crucial for getting satisfied customers who spread the word about your brand. A bad delivery experience can break the legs of everything you’ve done before. A good delivery can boost your brand significantly.

So what is a good delivery? What do the customers expect? It is vital for e-tailers to know and several studies have been published on this topic. Every year, PostNord produces comprehensive studies on the Nordic e-commerce and European e-commerce market. These reports can be ordered from our reports page.

Having a consumer-centric, digitalized and data-driven mindset are the keys to success for e-commerce companies. And when it comes to data, the important thing is not big data but smart data. The data you need to fully understand your customers and to be able to fulfil their expectations.
At the E-commerce Expo in Stockholm, Sweden, the online entrepreneur Sïmon Saneback gave his view of the fast developing e-commerce market. A market which is global, mobile, disruptive as well as consolidated. A market where consumers expect good experiences and control.

Globalization, consolidation and disruption

Sïmon SanebackWhat is actually happening is an ongoing globalization of e-commerce. Purchases directly from China have increased tremendously with the growth of online marketplaces like Wish, with its user-friendly mobile platform and its direct connection to production in China. Payment methods have evolved and are no longer a show-stopper for cross-border e-commerce. Companies consolidate and merge by buying new companies to become even more powerful. Global marketplaces, like Amazon, Asos, Farfetch, etc., are growing bigger and in a couple of years are estimated to account for 50 % of global e-commerce. Yet marketplaces also want to be brands. Non-brands struggle to become brands. And brands, like Nike, want to be marketplaces or at least they want to control more of the supply chain.

The mobile (r)evolution

Consumer behavior has changed over the years. From “being informed” to “being connected”, consumers now expect to be “in control”. What is notable is the mobile r(e)volution with about 70 % of all internet traffic coming from mobile. Smartphones will soon replace other devices and will be used for everything, not only among the young and in growing markets.

Offering a “wow” experience

Most important for success in the ever-changing world of e-commerce is to know and understand the customer, stresses Sïmon Saneback. Three of four consumers will leave if they are not happy with the product and service. It is important to retain your customers. Although the cost for retaining a customer is big, it will cost you even more to win a new customer. So know and understand your customers and always try to create a “wow” experience.

Kajsa Ehmer and Malin Herzig, Marketing, Direct Link Sweden

For Southeast Asia’s six largest countries – Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam – trends show that e-commerce is growing at a very fast rate. Currently, e-commerce is valued at USD 14.8 billion and this is set to increase six-fold by year 2025.

Southeast Asian woman using mobile phone for online shopping

Photo: Pumidol/

One of the main factors for this growth is internet adoption and rate of digitization, a change driven by young people under 35 who account for about 70 % of the population. Considering that today, only about 53 % of the general population in Southeast Asia uses the internet, the growth opportunities are tremendous. For example, only during the last year the number of internet users grew by 31 % or about 80 million people. Additionally, 47 % of the population in the region are active mobile internet users, which corresponds to more than 300 million people.

A driving force behind rising internet penetration is Southeast Asians’ love of their mobile phones. Smartphone usage rates are as high as 91 % in Singapore, 81 % in Malaysia, 72 % in Vietnam, and 70 % in Thailand. Rates in the Philippines are a bit lower with 61 %, and the same goes for Indonesia with a rate below 50 % adoption.

Smartphones in Southeast Asia account for 25 % of online retail sales and show a yearly increase of 44 %, which is a significantly higher growth rate than other devices. It is the primary web access which pushes retailers to think mobile-first and to ensure that their customer offerings are mobile-friendly. To be part of the mobile market many e-commerce companies have therefore launched their mobile apps first and only later have added a “desktop” website. Furthermore, major online marketplaces like Lazada, Zalora, 11street and Zilingo have all launched mobile apps to not only reach consumers but also marketplace sellers.

The increase in internet usage and mobile penetration goes hand in hand with a mobile-first attitude. This is something that surely won’t change, and it is why a mobile-first attitude is paramount for e-tailers who are considering selling to Southeast Asia.

Colin Lin, Sales Account Manager, Direct Link Singapore


With over 100+ sessions, 325+ speakers and 5000+ attendees, this event weighed in as a huge contributor of fresh and groundbreaking e-Commerce conversations. With a main focus on how consumers discover, shop and buy inside the retail and e-Commerce space, the Shoptalk narrative shared insights directly from the companies on the front lines of defining customer engagement.

Utilizing customer engagement as a tool to starting a conversation

One of the largest themes taken from sessions at Shoptalk this year was the importance for companies to open and maintain a constant “conversation” with their e-commerce consumers. Whether a brick and mortar retail store, e-tailer, or mobile application – personal marketing has always been a reliable way for companies to “converse” with their customers on an individual level and influence their purchasing decisions. Continued success in this area will be dependent on using these same practices in new and inspiring ways! For example, many companies at Shoptalk insisted on using all the customer data at your disposal to create personalized touch to everything they possibly can. The days of providing a blanket advertisement that may or may not be absorbed by the customer are dying. It’s about personalization with a purpose to create utility at the same time as marketing. This allows for consumers to receive valuable information while driving ongoing engagement and repeat business.

Delivery continues to have key influence on the overall customer experience

Shoptalk entrance

Photo: Direct Link

With regards to the final mile of fulfillment especially, several of Shoptalk’s speakers agreed that consumer expectations are very high when it comes to the topic of delivery. Consumers are looking to retailers to make it simple, make it easy and make it happen as promised! Some e-tailers, such as Elliot Shmukler from Instacart – a grocery delivery service, have attempted to accomplish this feat on their own and end up relying on a product mark-up to cover their delivery costs. Instead, as he suggests, pairing with a trusted delivery provider is the ticket to overcoming challenges and providing a premier experience for the customer.

And this was something that many of the companies in the various sessions dove into, shaping the overall important customer experience and new evolutions in the last mile of delivery.

Austin Whittenberger, Sales, Direct Link USA