I’d never experienced anything like it. I was standing inside a real aircraft carrier surrounded by fighter jets while Maverick himself, THE Top Gun, took photos with smiling eCommerce entrepreneurs. With that perfect swagger and smirk I could have sworn Tom Cruise must have taken a break from filming Mission Impossible 8 to schmooze at the Opening Party for eCommerceFuel Live.
Last week over 300 eCommerce Fuel members gathered in San Diego for eCommerceFuel Live. With an exclusive guest limited to business owners who bring in more than seven figures, this is the top event of the year for many of the eCommerce entrepreneurs who attend.
If you’ve spent any time in the eCommerce space, then you know there’s a veritable glut of networking and informational events for online entrepreneurs. But only eCommerceFuel Live gives its guests the opportunity to mingle with the cream of the crop. By making this a private event for the most successful business owners in our already-vetted community, we guarantee each person in the hall is a peer with top tier knowledge and experience in their field.
Bringing an Online Community to Life
Unlike most business events, eCommerceFuel Live prioritizes deep connections, with the goal of bringing our virtual community together in real life. Yes, we offer keynote speakers, breakout sessions, and workshops at eCommerceFuel Live. But those function more as a jumping off point for attendees who want to mingle and form connections with other eCommerce entrepreneurs.
Friendly for New Connections
In my heyday, I attended so many eCommerce conferences that my frequent flier miles could have taken me to Timbuktu. At most of those events, I’d have to force myself to talk to a few new people, before rushing back to my hotel for a Netflix binge. I’m an extrovert, but even I find it draining to interact with strangers in an effort to form new professional relationships.
But our events team has taken the stress out of socializing by assembling a host of activities that make you feel at ease in the eCommerceFuel community.
Prior to the fabulous aircraft carrier opening party, they offered a new member dinner. Then, for lunch on the first day, they created an assigned seating chart that grouped together guests with similar interests.
For dinner on the second night, we were grouped with different attendees, but still found plenty to talk about as we strolled to the restaurant in the pleasant San Diego evening air. The discussion was varied – from baseball rules to the landed costs of our products. (Is it better to make fewer but larger orders of inventory to optimize our cost-of-goods-sold??)
We ate at Kettner Exchange, and their sumptuous tapas style food allowed us to truly share our meal together, passing plates like you would at grandma’s table. Of course the ambiance was much hipper than Granny’s, with a DJ and harpist offering quite the avant garde entertainment combo. It was a memorable meal to say the least.
Saw a DJ with a harpist at a restaurant last week. I’m surprised how much I liked the combo. 🤘
Are there any bands out there that make music like this? pic.twitter.com/GwXomAqCQn
— Patrick Rauland (@BFTrick) March 14, 2023
Adventures Promote Individual Relationships
The second day of eCommerceFuel live offered a huge block of time dedicated to adventures. Among the numerous options available, attendees could take the opportunity to learn how to surf, enjoy a food tour of San Diego, sail in a regatta, go on safari, or kayak through sea caves.
My state is landlocked, so the lure of the ocean I so rarely see called to me, and I chose to go on the kayaking tour.
The two-person kayaks gave my paddling partner, Mike, and I the chance to get to know one another as our guide taught us about San Diego’s sea life. We saw the sea caves and got the magical experience of watching wild seals swim around us. As we made our way back to the beach, most of our fellow tour attendees got a refreshing dip in the Pacific when their kayaks tipped over. Our vessel was one of only two that didn’t capsize – so now Mike and I have something to brag about at the next ECF Live. 💪
Parties Promote Meeting Groups of People
Every night is a party at ECF Live! Literally. The events team crafted a uniquely festive experience for each evening of the conference. I already gushed about the Top Gun themed opening night party.
In addition to the Tom Cruise impersonator, we got a tour of the aircraft carrier, and a former (non-impersonator) Navy pilot explained how it was used during war and peacetime.
Tuesday night we had a Cantina themed party with mezcal tastings, a margarita shaking lesson, and a good old whack at the piñata.
At that party, I met Lianna Patch and we geeked-out over the communication books we’ve read and the places we’ve lived. I’m not sure if our businesses will ever overlap, but in the short time we spent together I learned she was a person whose advice I could trust. I’ll be paying extra attention to her words of wisdom in the forum from now on.
And that’s the goal of all of the social events we offer at ECF Live. It’s hard to really learn about a person through text (even for those of us who conducted our earliest relationships via AOL Instant Messenger). But real life conversations give you a solid base on which to build a rapport that strengthens your online interactions.
The closing party took place at the Children’s Museum. Don’t worry, the children were all gone. But when the kids are away, the adults get to play! We got to explore the museum unfettered by the guilt of taking up an activity that was intended for tiny humans. We went back to our childhoods, riding down the slide and taking each other out in a friendly game of laser tag.
VIDEO OF SLIDE OR LASER TAG
Of course the event wasn’t all adventures, parties, and games. We also want to give our community members quality information, and our keynote sessions aimed to provide just that.
We had four keynotes throughout the event, but the talk from Casey Brown about Pricing Strategy stuck with me the most.
“Every single percentage point of price is 5-10x magnified on the bottom line. You should protect each single % or pricing like a mountain of gold.”
– Casey Brown at @ecommercefuel Live. pic.twitter.com/EqCQumNjGD
— Andrew Youderian (@youderian) March 6, 2023
For me, the key takeaway was that pricing should be a considered decision – strategic and calculated. Most store owners are too scared to raise prices. They think if their prices go up, then they’ll lose a large amount of volume, say 16%. But Casey showed us that in reality, most owners over-estimate the risks and volume will only decrease by 4% .
And when you do the math on net-profit, you can see that businesses often make more money by increasing prices by 5%. They may lose up to 8% in volume, but their net profit still increases by 7%.
Takeaway: Don’t set your prices based on fear. Meet with your team on a weekly, monthly, or quarterly basis to reevaluate your prices.
Another keynote that left an impression was Nik Sharma who understands how to use the customer voice in marketing. If a customer unboxes your product and says, “This is the Tesla of mattresses” that’s exactly what you should use in your marketing.
Welcoming the incredible @mrsharma for his keynote at @ecommercefuel Live! pic.twitter.com/BqB2F21eA5
— Andrew Youderian (@youderian) March 8, 2023
Breakout Sessions For Specific Areas of Interest
Besides the four keynotes sessions everyone at the conference attended, there were 12 breakout sessions ranging from optimizing your Google PMax ads to a story about how losing 85% of employees actually saved someone’s business. The most popular session was a workshop about getting started with Generative AI technology using ChatGPT and Midjourney.
For my own interests, I enjoyed Dave Stickland’s talk about his entrepreneurial journey and how focusing on fewer projects led him to be more profitable in each.
The legend himself @dave_stickland crushing the focus lesson at @ecommercefuel Live pic.twitter.com/SnFqtmXLz6
— Chad Carlton (@ChadCarleton) March 7, 2023
I also learned a lot from Sean McGinnis’ talk about every Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO) technique he used to save KURU Footwear. Some of his strategies were obvious, like increasing the font size on mobile so people can read the copy. But he also revealed his more advanced techniques, like an email marketing team that sends emails five days a week(!) to specific segments for different purposes.
Most, if not all, of the speakers in these sessions jam packed their discussion with real world details. You can learn more about conversion rate optimization (or any other topic) from someone who actually implemented changes and shared their results, rather than reading a listicle of ideas that might work from someone who hasn’t put any of that information into practice.
Downtime Lets You Marinate on Good Business Ideas
Sometimes you just need another entrepreneur to reiterate a point. You know you should follow a specific strategy but you haven’t succeeded thus far.
While my kayaking group was riding back to the conference in our bus, a few attendees convinced another guest to give email marketing another go.
He had had poor luck with email marketing in the past, but about 15 minutes into his conversation with his fellow entrepreneurs, he said:
“This bus ride back paid for the whole event”
Our keynotes and breakout sessions are a great primer, but the real value of our event is in the business conversations they facilitate with your ECF peers.
ECF Live 2024
If you’ve gotten this far, you’re probably itching to find out how you can be part of eCommerceFuel Live next year. Never fear, our events team is here! The 2024 dates are already set, and the location decided – The Big Easy itself, New Orleans!
There’ll be parties, adventures, keynotes, and breakout sessions just like we had in 2023. ECF Live is the greatest way to mix business improvement, and social adventure for eCommerce entrepreneurs. Join us!
But remember, ECF Live is a private event, open only to eCommerceFuel members. If you want to attend next year, participate in our private community of 7-figure and larger store owners, browse our review directory with over 20,000 reviews on every kind of software or SaaS you may be considering for your business, and attend a regional ECF meetup apply to become a member of eCommerceFuel today.