7 Things We Learned at Collision Conference

Collision Conference is North America’s fastest growing tech conference.

Last week, we got to attend Collision Conference in New Orleans, Louisiana. Collision is one of the fastest growing tech conferences in America.

Hundreds of start-ups, marketers, and entrepreneurs were in attendance for three days of learning and networking. Our days were packed with talks, exploring new start-ups, and exploring what the future holds for eCommerce business owners. Of course there were plenty of great takeaways and trends we wanted to bring back and share…

What is Collision Conference?

Collision Conference is one of the ‘fastest-growing’ tech conferences in America. For the past three years the tech conference has taken place in sunny New Orleans (though next year the conference will be happening in Toronto).

tech conference

This year, there were over 25,000 attendees and 5,600 companies in attendance for three days of talks. Including a diverse range of influencers, startups, networking people, even a few celebrities such as Wyclef Jean and Sophia Bush.

The conference was divided into 12 standalone conferences focusing on industry tracks ranging from marketing and design to music and robotics. It was a bit overwhelming at times, but organized very well. Huge kudos to the Collision team for putting this together, it was surely no easy feat.

7 Things We Learned at Collision, One of the Biggest Tech Conferences in the World

Collision Conference had it all: inspiring talks, workshops, roundtables to help attendees and startups address the toughest problems in their industry.

With that being said, there was plenty to experience, so much insight and inspiration to keep innovating! Here are some of the biggest takeaways and eCommerce trends to keep your eyes on.

1. Redesign has more to do with UX than looks

One of the first talks that kicked off the Collision Conference was “Redesign for Life”. Walmart CTO, Jeremy King, and Chris Slowe the CTO of Reddit, were brought on to discuss redesign and innovation. One of the most important points they made, based on experience within their own companies, was redesign has more to do with your users’ experience (UX) than looks.

Think of this when you are building your drop shipping store. Though you can certainly have both, but a great user experience trumps a beautiful page. There are plenty of helpful Shopify apps to assist you with this in your store too.

2. The time to start building your brand is NOW

“Your brand is what other people say about you when you’re not in the room.” Jeff Bezos

While Amazon founder Jeff Bezos wasn’t in the room at Collision Conference, this was the quote that led the discussion at one particular talk, “The Dos and Don’ts of Building a Brand in 2018”.

The time to start building your drop shipping brand is now. It’s important to understand: “Brand equals your organization.” Whether that is a personal brand, company brand, or the brand behind an online store, a brand helps you connect with customers. Additionally, when customers connect with your brand, they’re not going to be so quick to give up on you should you mess up. (Think of all the Apple controversies over the years….)

collsion conf

What does it take to build a minimum-viable brand? Just a name, some visuals, and a narrative to why you’re in business. How did you find a niche? Why are you passionate about your store? The more story you can build around your brand, your drop shipping business, the more it will help you grow.

And as Sarah Hofstetter of 360i (a top advertising agency that helps clients capitalize on industry changes) put it  “Are you living up to your promise?” You have to have an identity and mission statement to live up to and once you do, stick with it. Your brand will help you do so. At Drop Ship Lifestyle, we teach building our brand and website first before even find suppliers, because suppliers know how important having a brand is.

3. Loyalty Needs to Be Earned (Not Bought)

We all know the value of a loyal customer, but can loyalty be bought? One of my favorite talks at Collision Conference addressed this issue facing many of us online business owners.  Turns out, loyalty (the kind of loyalty that grows businesses by word-of-mouth) needs to be earned not bought.

These days, people want a great experience. How can you deliver a great experience to your customers? Here are some of ways how to build your own loyal customers:

  1. Solve your customers biggest problems.
  2. Say ‘thanks’ with an upgrade.
  3. Offer rewards for customer referrals.
  4. Improve by asking for customer suggestions or feedback.
  5. ‘Show-off’ your most loyal customers with testimonials.
  6. Charge upfront for VIP status.
  7. Get involved with a charity or in your community.

Ultimately, what was stressed by speakers during this talk (led by Karin Timpone, Chief Marketing Officer at Marriott International), is customers need to be engaged, surprised, and delighted throughout the whole relationship (not just at the beginning!). After someone is a customer, they are far more likely to buy from you again and again. A lot of businesses only focus on acquiring new customers instead of reselling to their existing ones, leaving a ton of money on the table!

4. VR/AR Will Improve the Online Shopping Experience

One of the most interesting startup trends I saw was an incredible integration between eCommerce and VR/AR by a company called WeAR Studio. I’m sure most of you are familiar with those hilarious tales of customers being misled by online product descriptions:

funny-online-shopping-fails

Well, there are a few smart folks working hard to help solve this issue for both online business owners and their visitors. Companies are building software that will enable customers to view products before buying thanks to VR/AR technology. The software isn’t quite there yet (fingers-crossed they get that funding they were pitching for!) , but it’s a very exciting tech trend to keep our eye on…

5. SEO in 2018

“What You Need to Know About SEO in 2018,” was a short, but information-packed presentation from MOZ CEO, Sarah Bird.

Google is changing, and there’s a few trends to watch if you want to stay ahead of the competition. Mainly, Google wants to transition from a gateway to the internet, where you find what you need and leave Google, to a destination where you find what you need on Google. Think of Google a few years ago… all it was was a battle to be on the front page; one of the first ten blue links.

ten blue links

Take a look at some of what you can do just from running a typical search in the search engine:

What does SEO in 2018 mean for internet retailers like yourself? Well a few things:

  • Use schema. Check out this article to get started using schema in your Shopify Store
  • Meta descriptions are very, very important. The new character count is 300, take advantage of that!
  • Along with meta descriptions, never waste title tags and headings.
  • Additionally, featured snippets dominate on mobile. If you’re creating content, get featured in the snippets by answering questions. (Here’s a great source to get started with what people are asking about your products.)

Finally, if you’re writing content for your online store,  change your writing style to inverted pyramid because Google loves this. The idea with the inverted pyramid is to put the most important information first. This concept comes from journalists in the 1800’s while using telegraphs.  It’s a relevant technique today due to people’s short attention spans! Use this technique to ensure your main message gets through to your audience every time.  With some practice, you can combine storytelling with this technique to great effect.

inverted pyramid writing style

6. Keep Innovating and Learn From Your Customers

“We’re on a journey to make better products for ourselves, and we want others to join us.” Jeff Raider, Co-Founder and CEO of Harry’s.

Delivering great quality products and building a stellar customer experience is part of the formula that led shaving company, Harry’s to their massive success. Listening to co-founder Jeff Raider explain how his company succeeded is something that everyone with an eCommerce business can learn from.

Raider gave some helpful marketing advice for eCommerce business owners: “When crafting your marketing message it starts with the customer, what do the people out there want? Then, it’s how do you do it differently than everyone else in your market?” Answering these questions will help you create a unique selling proposition, something we help you with in our Drop Ship Blueprint.

For Harry’s, they stopped treating men like “cavemen” and connected with their customers to give them what they wanted in a compelling way. They also had to fight off a lawsuit from their top competitor along the way. In the end, Harry’s succeed in cracking a $2.4 billion market with their innovative branding.

Left a Gillette ad, and on the right a clever ad from Harry’s.

7. Finally, Online Business Owners Can Learn a lot From Startups

Besides the talks, Collision Conference had plenty of start-ups in attendance, a few dozen of which were participating in PITCH: The Startup Battle. So for all three days at the tech conference, startups were giving pitches to investors on a small stage.

It was hard not to be captivated by them when you walked by, the confidence, innovation, and excitement they were conveying was quite contagious. It takes a lot of guts to bring your startup idea in front of a panel of stone-faced investors (and a crowd of attendees coming-and-going). Though it’s very similar to getting that confidence needed to call and build relationships with suppliers.

hubspot quote

A quote from Brian Halligan, Founder of HubSpot, during his talk titled, “The Secrets to Speed Your Journey From Startup to Scaleup” arguing that while “it’s never, ever, in the history of Homo sapiens walking the face of the planet, been a better time to start a business,” scaling is harder than ever, but not impossible.

A few of the startups I talked to explained that their confidence came from practice, and from pitching their ideas over and over again. Along with practicing your ‘pitch’ to drop shipping suppliers, you need to get yourself in the right mindset before making that call! Here are some mindset tips that will help you build that confidence and mindset.

Get Smart: There are many, many people who have already learned the hard lessons through trial and error. Take advantage of their experiences and learn from their mistakes, this will put you ahead of the game with your drop shipping business. One of the best ways is to follow a proven system like my Drop Ship Blueprint.

Analyze the Market: One of the most important steps in the Drop Ship Lifestyle Blueprint is market research. You need to understand the landscape you are about to enter like the back of your hand. Just like startups, you don’t have to be the first, but you have to be realistic about the size of your market. After you’re established, you can push into other markets and grow your business but it’s important to have a strong foundation.

Feedback, Feedback, Feedback: It is so easy to get wrapped up in your brilliant business idea, but run your idea by others the community, or a business mentor. Hear out their critique and carefully consider each suggestion as they could help strengthen your business.

Collision Conference is one of North America’s fastest growing tech conferences. This year it brought together 25,000 innovators and entrepreneurs from across the globe. There were certainly a few trends that dominated the conversation. This year blockchain, AR/VR, and brand-building were top of the list. But the biggest takeaway from the conference is technology is growing insanely fast. The exciting part is much of this technology will help us in our daily lives and make running our businesses easier, and hopefully some will make us more money!

I want to know, what’s your favorite conference? Let us know in the comments if you’ll be attending any good ones this year!

Caitlin Johnson
 

Managing the editorial calendar and curating Drop Ship Lifestyle's online presence. Lover of craft beer and hot sauce.

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