Live from Shop.org: Marrying Innovation and ROI

Anaheim, CA–Innovation is the art of knocking off a great feature from your competitor’s site and mirroring it on your own, said Lauren Freedman, president of the Chicago-based E-tailing group, during an Oct. 6 session at Shop.org’s Annual Summit. Other panelists in the session agreed. “We borrow liberally from all our competitors,” said Bill Bass, senior vice president of Lands’ End and vice president and general manager of customer direct at Sears. Additionally, he said the company also works with a vendor to create innovative ideas for its two Websites.

Freedman noted six challenges online retailers face when trying to be innovative: an ROI-only focus, resources constraints, inability or lack of time for testing, creative thinking inhibited, maturing of the channel, and marketing and search emphasis.

Both Bass and fellow panelist Jon Nordmark, president/CEO of eBags, agreed that a primary focus on ROI hinders innovation. “Too much money makes them stupid,” said Nordmark, referring to the Internet’s heyday when there was more money than innovative ideas. He noted that when eBags has been shorter on cash is when creative ideas are flowing. Bass concurred by saying that it’s harder to be innovative at Lands’ End because, “there are a lot of people that want to make sure you don’t screw anything up – and a lot of people who want to help.” Whereas at Sears, because of the organization’s goliath size, the creative process is similar to a petri dish where ideas flourish.

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