Larry Joseloff from Shop.org – Podcast Transcript

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Shaun Ryan: [0:03] Hi, I’m Shaun Ryan from SLI Systems and this is the Ecommerce Podcast. Today, I’m talking with Larry Joseloff, the VP of Content from shop.org. Hi Larry.

Larry Joseloff: [0:13] Hey Shaun, thank you for having me today.

Shaun: [0:16] Oh, you’re welcome. Thanks for coming on board. Traditional first question: what’s the first thing you ever bought online?

Larry: [0:23] Great question. The first thing I ever bought online was a magazine subscription; I think it was Sports Illustrated. My first job in ecommerce was for a company called enews.com, the electronic news stand and we were the first seller of magazine subscriptions and I think that was my first product.

Shaun: [0:41] Oh excellent, that’s new. We haven’t had one of those before.

Larry: [0:45] That was in 1996.

Shaun: [0:47] ’96? That’s early. What was the most recent thing you bought online?

Larry: [0:53] The last thing I bought?

Shaun: [0:55] Yeah.

Larry: [0:56] I bought tickets to a Fish concert for this summer.

Shaun: [0:59] To a Fish concert?

Larry: [1:01] Yeah, the band Fish.

Shaun: [1:04] I’m a little ignorant, I hadn’t heard of them.

Larry: [1:06] I’ll send you some CDs.

Shaun: [1:08] [laughs] That sounds great. Now, tell me how long have you been with shop.org?

Larry: [1:13] A little bit over three years, and before that I was actually a member of shop.org. I was at the Discovery Channel store and I was running some ecommerce marketing for them and doing the affiliate program, some portals and shopping comparison engines and I would go to shop.org events as a retailer. So, I found them really educational and useful and helpful, so I wanted to join the team.

Shaun: [1:38] Excellent. So, tell me a little bit about VP of Content? What do you do for them?

Larry: [1:42] I am in charge of content that is presented to our members and that can take many forms. The blog is one part of it, which is blog.shop.org. The webinar series; we had about 10 webinars this year. Most of our work is with the events. We have actually five events every year – four in the U.S. and one in Europe – and my colleague whose name is Artemus Edna Usef, she’s a content manager, is very instrumental in having this all put together. I could have never done it without her.

Shaun: [2:18] Fantastic. So, how many members does shop.org currently have?

Larry: [2:23] It’s growing every day, honestly. We’re at about 600 or so and it’s made up of two basic groups, our retail members and also our solution providers who deal mostly with ecommerce and cross-channel.

Shaun: [2:39] Yep, yep. I’m familiar with that group; I’ve been part of it.

Larry: [2:42] Yep. You are one I believe. [2:45] [laughter]

Shaun: [2:46] How’s your group fared over the last year with the recession; you said it’s still growing?

Larry: [2:54] I think ecommerce is that bright spot in retail and we’re part of the National Retail Federation. I think we’re hearing that from some members that ecommerce is a bright spot in retail. We’re pretty resilient, I mean we’re not immune to the recession, but we’re pretty resilient and this summit is shaping up to be our biggest invest yet. So, we have our fingers crossed. It’s trending very, very nicely. I think in the last few months, we’ve seen a little bit of relief, we’ve seen based on news on the economy getting slightly better.

[3:33] Also folks, who really want to grow their business, see this as an opportunity, a term that we use a lot is opportunity from adversity. A lot of the content that we have at shop.org this year at the summit, we’ve got a really good combination of very practical, practical things that you can take home and implement next week and we also have some higher strategic level content too.

Shaun: [3:54] Excellent. So, it’s coming up in just over a week and a half, can you tell me a little bit about the show? Are you planning anything different from prior years?

Larry: [4:03] We have boot camps, the online retail boot camp that’s taking place on September 21, which is Monday. We usually don’t have content that day, so we’ve actually added a whole other day of content, that’s actually really discussing some of the major topics. We’ve got email, we have search, we have merchandising for conversion. All of the speakers are going to give seven or 10 specific tips for success in the boot camp for all of these different topics. So, it’s going to be an all day session. [4:38] I’m really excited. Something that we have different this year, this comes directly from attendee feedback is that we have diversity from the keynotes. We have CEOs from across Channel Retailer.

[4:48] We have Terry Lundgren from Macy’s and we’re excited about having him. Obviously, he’s a huge name in retail. We have John Donahoe from eBay, the CEO of eBay, and Dawn Lepore the CEO from drugstore.com. So, we have a pure play retailer and one of the leading ones at that. We have the largest Internet auction site, and we have one of the leading cross-channel retailers.

[5:08] It’s a great diversity of keynotes. We have tours of the EXPO Hall. So, we are helping our attendees navigate the EXPO Hall to find exactly what they’re looking for. We’re having white glove tours. We have four different tracks of content. We have the cutting edge, which is dealing with social networking and Twitter and mobile. We have operations and technology. We have a track on the customer experience and we have a track on tactic.

[5:36] If you really want to dig deep and come back with a laundry list of things that you can just put into effect right away, we have a whole track on that in tactics.

[5:47] And finally, we’ve ‘Doctor is In.’ Just one last thing, there’s a lot to do at the Annual Summit and you should bring four or five members of your team to get the most out of it. The ‘Doctor is In’ is one on one individual website tutorials on usability and merchandising. Finally, each day ends with roundtables.

Shaun: [6:05] Wow, that sounds fantastic. There’s going to be a lot of content there for folks.

Larry: [6:10] Absolutely.

Shaun: [6:12] So, to get the most out of the show, you should bring along several people so that you can have someone attend each stream, right?

Larry: [6:21] Absolutely. We actually started a promotion for retailers, send three get one free. So, if you send three retailers, we’ll actually chip-in and the fourth one can actually come free.

Shaun: [6:34] Fantastic. So, there may be some listeners that are still trying to determine if they’re going to go to the show. I suppose you might have just touched on some of the content, but what benefits do you think they’ll get from coming to shop.org that you want them to know about?

Larry: [6:54] I would say, to kind of echo what I just talked about, I think there’s a great diversity of content. I think if you’re a beginner in ecommerce, there are offerings for you. If you are a C-level person, if you’ve been in ecommerce as long as I have, 10-15 years, there is really relevant, thought provoking, strategic content for you. If you want to get your site looked at by an expert, there’s content for you. Then networking is incredible.

[7:19] We are a community and what can’t be replicated in any other shows is the essence of the community of shop.org. We have a great relationship with the members. Members help other members at the receptions and at the roundtable discussions. We have a great networking dinner at night at the Mandalay Bay. We have a wonderful opening reception. I think that is really the point that cannot be replicated is the community of shop.org.

Shaun: [7:58] Yes. I don’t know whether you record the sessions or not, but you can look at those offline. But, when you can get there and talk to people about their actions or a particular presentation or just about what’s working for them or what’s not working for them, that’s the real value of going to a show like shop.org.

Larry: [8:17] Absolutely.

Shaun: [8:19] So, Larry, is there anything else that you’d like to say before we wrap up here?

Larry: [8:24] If anyone has any questions about membership or what we offer – we do more than events, we are an association for online and cross-channel retailers and we have a lot to offer – you can contact me directly. I’ll even give you my phone number 202-661-3057. I’d love to speak to you directly about what we have to offer. If you are debating coming to the summit, call me again or email me and let me talk to you about the specifics of what we’ll do at the summit and what you can get out of it.

[8:57] I’ve had many calls from people who weren’t sure, and called me, and I’ve asked what’re your needs, what’re you looking for. I’ll be able to walk them through the agenda. And most of them [inaudible 09:05] the kind of address what they’re really looking for.

[9:09] So, this is going to be our best Annual Summit yet, so I hope everyone can come. It will be fun, it will be educational and it’s Las Vegas.

Shaun: [9:16] Fantastic. I’m going to be there so hopefully we’ll catch up. I’m really looking forward to it. I’ve always found it to be a great show. So Larry, I just wanted to say thank you very much for coming onto the podcast. I think you’ve provided…

Larry: [9:31] Thank you Shaun.

Shaun: [9:32] …some really useful content to our listeners and hopefully we’ll see you in Vegas.

Larry: [9:37] Wonderful, I’m looking forward to seeing you too.

Shaun: [9:41] Thank you. I’m Shaun Ryan from SLI Systems and that was the Ecommerce Podcast. Tune in next time. [9:46] [music]