Like every year, for the past 11 years now, November is the month when people in the Romanian ecommerce industry meet to talk about evolution, best practices, new approaches and choose the best out of their kind.
What started 11 years ago as a competition is today a chain of events which take place throughout the year. The event is dedicated to promoting and encouraging best practices among Romanian ecommerce players. Today, participants enrolled in the competition have to comply with 120 rules and are evaluated by 20 ecommerce specialists. And after a year of hard work comes the award gala where industry participants can meet, exchange ideas, attend workshops and test new 3rd party services.
This year the gala took place on November 15 and 16, 2 days before Black Friday, and of course this subject was present in all the discussions that took place on the first day.
Until last year, the summit featured mainly international speakers, who talked about steps to take and what to look for in the ecommerce industry, because those who attended were only small teams that had the guts to start a project. Meanwhile, those little players evolved and this year we also saw representatives of success stories on stage: Anna Sliwinska (International Sales & Marketing Manager of ANSWEAR.com), Mihai Patrascu (Founder & CEO evoMAG), Monica Cadogan (CEO & Co-Fondator Vivre), Ovidiu Ababei (Online Director Altex & Media Galaxy), Raluca Mateiu (CEO InternetCorp) and Iulian Stanciu (CEO emag).
Seeing these people in the spotlight, even though they mainly talked about Black Friday, showed me that we somehow evolved and today we don’t have just plain ecommerce projects. We also have omni-channels and cross border ecommerce. I find this encouraging because it shows the power of ecommerce as a distribution channel of a greater plan, not as a stand-alone business model.
If you think about it, big retailers in Romania have only recently expanded to online. Decathlon has had an online sales platform only since 2015, even though they make more than 90% of the Romanian market. Mega Image, which is a regional champion with internet presence, plans to launch their own ecommerce website only in 2017. And the list can continue…
At the same time, ecommerce projects that have reached a certain level tend to develop “click and collect” points, just to cover more sale channels. Look at elefant.ro, f64.ro, zoot.ro or Ikea.
Another important aspect to be noticed is that we have Romanian cross-border success stories: vivre.ro, fashiondays.ro. Bottom line is that, even if ecommerce represents almost 10% of the whole commerce industry and even if cross-border commerce has still many obstacles to overcome, our entrepreneurs are doing it and they are good at it!
The rest of the summit featured general talks about payments, marketing strategies, SEO, remarketing and customer care. Also on the first day, Talia Wolf held a nice presentation about emotional targeting and persuasive design.
The other helpful event was the workshop held by Bryan Eisenber, a bestselling author and an expert in online marketing. His workshop was interactive and very easy to understand. He explained how to organise marketing events and create aspiring brands, and he even practiced with the audience how to choose heroes and how to build personas for a brand.
All in all, compared to the first gala I have been to, back in 2011, this one showed me a more dynamic and evolved community. If, back then, all the speakers and service providers came from more mature countries, today success stories and 3rd party services come mainly from the Romanian market.