Accel eComm Connect, our virtual conference last week, was a blast! We had 2,000 registrants and 41 speakers from across the globe. Over the course of five hours, our expert panelists covered all-things eCommerce, from its very origins to recent innovation. 

If you weren’t able to attend live, never fear! Like any of your favorite direct-to-consumer brands, we’re bringing it straight to you. Below, you can watch all seven sessions. If you’d prefer the cliff-notes version, we’re also sharing key takeaways from each panel to fill you in.

1) Founders should spend 90% of their time on “VCP.”

The interview with Marc and Sameer was a gold mine for first-time founders. They tackled a big question: how can founders set their companies up for success? Both agreed on the importance of setting a vision, building trust with investors, and organizing a structure to hire great people. Marc even coined an acronym for it: “VCP” (vision / capital / people). He also spoke about the impending trend of “conversational commerce” and gave a hint about his new ventures. But for that, you’ll want to watch the keynote.

“It’s important to outline exactly what your vision is, and precisely what your company will become. Every word matters. Your strategy will follow from that.” - Marc Lore, Serial Entrepreneur

Watch the keynote with Serial Entrepreneur Marc Lore, Accel’s Sameer Gandhi, and The Economist’s Ludwig Siegele here:

2) The “cookie-pocalypse” is catching everyone off guard, but we’re not (that) worried.

We all love a good personalized shopping experience. Historically for brands to do this, that’s where third-party data comes into play. But with major changes coming to cookies, brands are bracing for change. Thankfully, our panelists set a more hopeful scene: if businesses can communicate clearly and in a “human” way with their customers to earn their trust, they just might be willing to provide data themselves. Zero party and first party cookies will be an essential part of any brand and marketers strategy going forward. 

“Companies have more first-party data than they think, and it’s valuable. It’s also something that consumers know and want businesses to not only have, but use.” - Klaviyo’s CEO & Co-Founder, Andrew Białecki

Watch the enablement Software Panel with experts from Algolia, Klaviyo, Malomo, OctaneAI, Recharge Payments, Shogun here:

3) Brands are more focused on community-building than ever before.

After a year of physical distancing, human connection is a priority for consumers. Brands are exploring ways to connect with their customers beyond their point-of-purchase and they’re looking beyond the four walls of their stores to things like social media and in-person events. The key here—according to our panel of experts—is to use these “community-building” opportunities to convey a shared set of values, and find ways to drive those relationships back to their brand. 

“The conventional omnichannel wisdom was to put digital into the physical environment. We’ve now seen a push to put the physical into the digital. That human connection is so important.” Noam Paransky, Tapestry (Coach, Kate Spade, Stuart Weitzman)

Watch the Bands Panel with experts from Athleta, Kering, Tapestry, SPANX and Under Armour below:

4) eCommerce penetration differs by region. But across the board, COVID-19 is speeding things up.

We’ve been studying global differences in eCommerce here at Accel, and were excited for our panelists to share their take. They discussed eCommerce trends by region and a few recent catalysts for growth in emerging markets, like an increase in accessibility to mobile phones and (ahem) a global pandemic. When we spoke about big marketplace players—things heated up. They can easily strip merchants of control over their customer relationships, but the reality is, they’re a crucial foundation for eCommerce in emerging markets. So brands must choose how they want to interact with these behemoths moving forward: collaboration or competition?

“From the beginning of time, retail was about pulling shoppers into the four walls of a store. Now, it’s increasingly important to push the brand to wherever the consumers are.” - Salesforce

Watch the  platforms Panel with experts from Adobe, BigCommerce, Nuvemshop, Salesforce, Shopify and Shopline here:

5) With physical shopping fading, platforms and influencer

Gone are the days of “mindless buying.” Shoppers often aren’t wandering into stores for fun, they’re going online for specific items. Even so, consumers crave the process of discovering what they like. Online influencers and platforms like Pinterest are filling that void, by giving customers a way to find inspiration and enjoy the process of shopping. If this mix is done well, it can drive massive value back to a brand. So how do you do creator marketing well and what technology can you use? 

“The elephant in the room is that creators are the platform. Companies are just the pipes, the technology. Creators are the important thing.” - Amber Venz Box, President & Co-founder at RewardStyle  & LIKEtoKNOW.it

Watch the Social Commerce Panel with experts from Catch&Release, Facebook, LIKEtoKNOWit, Pinterest, Snap Inc., and TechCrunch here:

6) Restaurants and grocers are moving beyond the four walls of a store (and some will forget them altogether).

Over the past year, restaurants, grocers, drugstores and retailers have all realized the role of their store needs to evolve. For the first time during COVID-19, many merchants moved beyond the physical walls of their stores. In fact, our panelists even seemed to think some may forget physical storefronts altogether. In the future, brick-and-mortar will still work for some, but convenience is a one-way-road and there are certainly some in-store shoppers who might never bounce-back.

“In the future, physical retail will still be an important part of the customer journey, it just can’t be your traditional retail anymore. It has to be destination retail.” - Eddy Lu, Co-Founder and CEO at GOAT

Watch the P2P eCommerce & Delivery Panel with experts from Yumi, GOAT Group, Neiman Marcus & Chairish, Doordash, Misfits Market and Stitch Fix here:

7) Data is an ingredient for brand success, just not the full recipe.

When our panel of automation and operations experts spoke about user experience, personalization was top-of-mind. They believe automation can help, since any time a brand fails to respond and engage with their customers in a customized and quick way, they’re eroding trust. Even so, customer data is still just a piece of a greater brand strategy. The focus should start with the experience a brand wants to offer its customers and then work backward, sprinkling in data when it will add true value.

“There’s an assumption we all have as technologists that data is inherently valuable. But it’s not. It’s only valuable to the extent in which it’s connected to a customer experience goal.” - Mike Murchison, CEO at Ada

Watch the Automation & Operations Panel with experts from The Wall Street Journal, Ventov, Alloy, Gorgias, Ada, Vercel and Uscreen below:

Again, we can’t thank our incredible speakers and panel moderators enough for their time and expertise! We hope you find these insights as valuable as we did, and look forward to many more conversations about the future of eCommerce.