eTail West just wrapped up and, as always, it was an exciting event. Taking place in Palm Springs, February 17-20, eTail West is the event where over 1,800 ecommerce and multi-channel retail innovators come together to discuss the most pressing issues in retail today. Here’s a recap of some of the highlights of this year’s show. Embrace the Merging Online and Offline In his keynote presentation, Forrester VP and Principal Analyst Peter Sheldon discussed a topic that’s at the top of priority lists this year – omni-channnel. According to Sheldon, “What’s going to happen over the next five years is a merging of online and offline into a single retail organization.” To achieve omni-channel success retailers will have to stop thinking about their digital and in-store customers as different people, and their online and physical store sales as separate. According to Forrester, half of all sales that take place in physical stores were influenced by online research. All parts of your business are focused on how to create the most pleasant customer experience both online and offline. Don’t Just Collect Data – Utilize It Ice.com CEO Brandon Proctor took a look at how to utilize customer analytics to personalize the onsite buying experience. Proctor began by saying that the problem with the “big data” buzzword is that it alludes to data collection and not utilization. Constructing the “complete view of the customer” is only step one. Step two is personalizing the experience for different customer segments. The customer is expecting it of you anyway – and they have short attention spans if they’re not getting what they expect. Consumers Don’t Differentiate Between the Brand and the Retailer Mobile technologies have had a wide-spread impact on the retail industry, but one of those impacts that gets little attention is the blurring of the lines between retailers and brands. In his keynote, Anthony Long of Kimberly-Clark discussed how consumers increasingly don’t differentiate between the brand and the retailer – there’s no use in brands and retailers trying to stay distinct from each other. Brands and retailers today share the same goal anyway – to get the consumer what they want when they want it. To compete successfully in this age of mobile driven-driven commerce, new types of partnerships must be forged. As a result of these partnerships, we’ll begin to see products that swim across the lanes of those who sell products. Thanks for another great show – we look forward to attending again next year!