Attendees weren't afraid to be vulnerable at the workshop as they volunteered their online retail websites for judgment after spending the day learning about e-commerce basics.

“Turn off reviews because it looks silly on your homepage since you don’t have any reviews yet.”

“Always update your footers.”

“You’re in a safe space, but now we’re going to make fun of you for the next five minutes.”

These were just some of the (sometimes hilarious) pieces of advice that founder and CEO of Ventura Web Design Kevin Richards and Boot Camp Workshop chair Scott Kincaid offered e-retailers who volunteered their new e-commerce websites for judgment in the Open Mic Feedback Forum workshop at the 2018 Internet Retailer Conference & Exhibition in Chicago.

The Feedback Forum was the final workshop of Tuesday’s Boot Camp at IRCE, all part of the first-ever New Recruit Boot Camp geared toward newer online retailers. This interactive workshop provided a 101 course-level guide to the key elements of e-commerce.


From finding the right fulfillment partner to how to sell on Amazon from a successful e-retailer like Death Wish Coffee, the Boot Camp shared the nitty-gritty basics of running an e-commerce shop.

One workshop, hosted by Richards, taught attendees the basics of e-commerce web design. He suggested retailers identify their niche and ensure the website’s design guides the shopper to the answer, which is usually the Add to Cart button. “Look at sites you like, sites that work and then emulate that in your design,” Richards said.

Later, Daniel Alarik, CEO and founder of Grunt Style, pumped up the audience as he discussed how in 2009 he built his patriotic apparel company from the ground up. “When you put content first, you get great results,” Alarik said.

“Every purchase on your website has some sort of emotion behind it,” co-presenter Steve Weiss, founder and CEO of Facebook advertising agency Mute Six, added.

Alarik’s strategy to cater to that emotion and win sales was to develop a message geared toward the “American fighting spirit, veterans and people that love freedom, bacon and whiskey,” and have that message cut through the social media clutter.


Another way Grunt Style reaches consumers is through Facebook Messenger. The retailer sends messages to shoppers who have abandoned a shopping cart and encourages them to come back to the site and complete their purchase. Facebook is soon going to be a big part of reaching younger consumers across e-commerce, Weiss said.

Jeff Cohen, chief marketing officer at Amazon selling solutions provider Seller Labs, discussed why Death Wish Coffee has had such success selling through Amazon and why the e-commerce giant can drive even more sales for marketplace sellers, such as by building an audience and paying attention to Amazon reviews. “Amazon’s position in the marketplace is changing, and it has changed the fabric of how we shop online,” Cohen said.

“In my experience, some of the best insights come from peers helping peers, in conversations that happen at the lunch table, after the sessions and at happy hour,” said Kincaid, who is also chief success officer at research firm Usability Sciences. “This workshop fosters this type of environment.”