NEMOA logoFreestyle attended the NEMOA Spring Summit at the end of March and found the event to be a great forum for the eCommerce and Catalog marketing community. If you wanted information on how to position, refresh or promote your brand, the Summit was the place to learn.

First a word about online events…I know we have all become weary of online interactions during the pandemic, and nothing takes the place of the in-person events we’ve all been missing. That said, this event did a very good job of recreating much of the feel of an in-person event, with the one shortcoming being the lack of casual (sometimes chance) encounters at lunch or on break that are an important benefit of attending a live event. No fault of the organizers, of course, as they provided focused and informative sessions. It’s just the nature of the medium, and hopefully we will soon be able to participate in person again.

As you would expect, the tone of the event was focused on the effects the pandemic had on the industry. The consensus is that catalog, direct marketing and eCommerce have all flourished. Trends that supported the rise of eCommerce revenues were:

  • A shift to work from home
  • An emphasis on home improvements
  • Hobbies (for example, gardening)
  • Athleisure

A newish term we’ve been hearing more and more is “Peacocking,” which is pampering or treating yourself well during the pandemic.

Some of the major trends and takeaways were:

  1. Changes in SEO for 2021 – Google has announced major changes coming in mid-June centered around how they rank sites. They’re calling this Page Experience, and in an unusual move from Google, they’re helping site owners prepare for what’s looking to be a massive change that could affect sites big and small, in any industry.
    What you need to know:
    Some of the new sticking points are a bit more technical, and looks at three key metrics:
    – Mobile Friendliness
    – Safety & Security
    – Stability & SpeedIf your site does not measure up in any of these metrics, you still have (a little bit of) time to regroup and course correct. The best way to think of this would be from the perspective of the user experience. If your visitors don’t have an optimal, safe experience, especially on mobile devices, Google will quickly take notice.
  2. Brand Ethos – Today, there is more attention than ever before on how you position your brand, in every part of the buying experience. From personalization, to email & SMS communication, are you communicating with your customers in a consistent way? This extends to often-overlooked opportunities like packing slips and thank you emails where you can feature product images, brand mascots and announcements. Remember the sales cycle doesn’t stop when a product is packed. Plan for how you can book the next sale by making every part of the experience consistent, fun and unique to your brand.
  3. Revitalizing Mature Brands – Sperry shared some great information on how they extended their Docksiders brand to a younger audience without alienating their core, more mature audience. They’re working with brand ambassadors who feature their products in everything from print & catalog ads to social media. Influencers are a powerful tool and can impact your sales by positioning products as trendy or retro. There was also a spirited debate over whether you should wear socks with your Docksiders…for me, sockless is the way to go in warm weather, but here in the Northeast, it’s a good idea to put on socks with your Docksiders in the winter.

A final, related quick thought:
Pandemic-influenced Supply Chain issues have affected everything from products to packaging. If you need specialty packaging (like many Freestyle customers), you need to either buy early and in bulk (always a risk), rethink how you ship or source new, local vendors.

If you attended the Summit, feel free to share your thoughts with us. If you have questions, contact us today!