PeSA 2013: Seventh Annual Conference Highlights

What started in 2007 as a union of the top Australian eBay sellers looking to impress their views upon eBay HQ, has now transformed into an all encompassing e-commerce conference that delivers high-quality networking and education for retailers of all sizes.

Whether you’re a first-time attendee or a regular, there are always new people to meet and new things to learn. I was lucky enough to achieve both this year and the following is an account of some of my personal highlights. For those averse to reading, feel free to watch the highlights video at the end of this article.

True to its roots, PeSA kicked off with an address from eBay’s Hamish Moline. eBay’s new ‘feed’ user-interface is on the way to the Australian website, Moline promised. The interface is designed to respond to user preferences for a Pinterest-style experience for viewing products using keywords and categories. With the influx of larger retailers, it was made clear that eBay Australia was still committed to its heritage of consumer-to-consumer selling, as well as growing the lucrative business-to-consumer segment.

eBay interface roll out
An image of how eBay’s upcoming user interface may look, once rolled out in Australia.

Traditional retailers are potential partners, rather than competitors, as far as eBay’s concerned – a view that is consistent with my own, as covered by my thoughts on retail opportunities to harness digital technologies.

Deb Sharkey
Deb Sharkey receiving her award at PeSA 2013.

The Mobile Movement and AusPost’s $2 Billion

The most important insight which eBay highlighted was growth they had witnessed in mobile transactions. The eBay mobile app delivered $13 billion in sales for 2012 globally, double the previous the year, and it is expected to exceed $20 billion for 2013. Worldwide, Australians are one of the highest adopters of smartphones and mobile e-commerce. Unfortunately, while it is a fast-growing buying preference, many local retailers are failing to take advantage of it.

Meanwhile, outgoing eBay Australia Managing Director, Deb Sharkey was awarded the inaugural PeSA Excellence Award for her contribution to online retail in Australia.

Australia Post, which is investing $2 billion to transforming their business to support e-commerce, expects its parcel business to surpass the traditional letter business for the first time in its 200+ year history. The full details were revealed by GM Gavin Gomes and have been covered elsewhere on this site.

Click Frenzy’s Powerful PR

Click Frenzy, the national online shopping phenomenon, came to a grinding halt after more than two million Aussies tried to hit their web site late last year. Grant Arnott, publisher of Power Retail and co-founder of Click Frenzy, recounted the saga showing how online retailer sales had increased substantially despite the technical headaches. Amazingly, only two press releases were issued for Click Frenzy!

Arnott also made a display of humility in trotting out the hilarious Click Frenzy spoof ‘Hitler’ video during his presentation, which was well-received all round.

Kogan Under Pressure and The Sheridyn Fisher Story

Social proof is Ruslan Kogan’s latest weapon in his quest for global domination. Put simply: social proof relies on the human trait of copying what other humans already did – safety in numbers.

In a traditional retail store popular items are easily spotted with the naked eye when you see customers taking products from shelves and lining up at a cash register to purchase them. However, authentic social proof online is trickier to implement.

Kogan also pointed out the criticality of ensuring online retailers delivered a great product for a great price, something even he is coming under competitive threat from the likes of other pureplays like eSold.

One Australian small business success story is that of Sheridyn Fisher; global e-commerce entrepreneur, swimwear designer, model, and actress. The secret to Sheridyn’s success has been partly driven by a highly engaged social media audience with nearly 400,000 instagram followers.

Sheridyn Fisher
Sheridyn Fisher’s swimwear label has 400,000 Instagram followers.

Once social media networks deliver a frictionless way to purchase ‘in-stream’ then Sheridyn’s business will surely skyrocket.

Closing the Loop with BuyReply

Converting offline advertising – a massive market dwarfing online advertising sales – into online sales with ‘one click’ is BuyReply’s value proposition.

At first, I was sceptical of Brad Lindenberg’s start-up business model, but then I took a look at the numbers. Only eight percent of mobile phones have a QR code reader installed. Texting – which is the fundamental communication method for BuyReply – is available on 100 percent of mobile phones.

BuyReply’s challenge is to take consumers used to spending 50 cents for SMS voting on reality TV shows and transform them into trusting BuyReply to make an e-commerce purchase of higher value. Simple in concept, but a larger step in consumers’ minds.

The key question at PeSA asked by delegates was not “should we sell online?” – we’re way past that stage now – the industry has moved on to “how do we effectively sell online?” This is a refreshing conversation to have for industry veterans.

There were many more valuable insights from over 70 speakers and hundreds of delegates at the PeSA Internet Conference across a wide range of practical topics that gave me a better understanding of future trends and customers’ needs. Because of this, any summation of the proceedings is never going to be able to live up to the event’s true scale. I can only hope this serves as an accurate overview for those who couldn’t attend, while I would encourage anyone who was there to share their insights in the comments below.

I’ll be sure to head back to the PeSA Internet Conference in 2014.

2 thoughts on “PeSA 2013: Seventh Annual Conference Highlights

  1. Great summation of the proceedings! What a fantastic event and on such a scale, wow it has grown to be the HOTTEST show in the world of ecommerce IMHO. Thanks for your insight and comments. What a wonderful write up! … Cheers

    peace, John

  2. Nice work Josh. Lots of takeaways from the conference as usual. An enormous number of lessons for those in the bricks and mortar world as well.


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