Online Technologies Conference to tackle retail issues, opportunities

ATLANTA — A handpicked group of experts will explore and explain top technology challenges, opportunities and issues during Sandow Media's third annual Online Technologies Conference, set for Nov. 15 at Americasmart here.

According to conference host Penny Schneck, this year's theme, Online Goes Mobile, underscores the growing importance that online technologies continue to play across all sectors of the home furnishings arena.

"When one considers that four out of five consumers use smartphones to shop and that 64% of consumers with smartphones make purchases after seeing a mobile ad, it's clear that our industry needs to understand and embrace the new technologies that are rewriting the rule book at retail," Schneck said.

Ron Gordon, vice president of technology for Micro D, will kick off the conference with a presentation titled Prepare Your Website for Smartphone Users!

Gordon, who says there are more than 280 million smartphones in use in the Americas, will share the most important factors to make a website attractive and highly useful when accessed from a smartphone.

Steve Bryant, president of Right Mind Media, will provide ideas, skills and behaviors designed to help attendees convert iShoppers into iCustomers.

Industry veteran Brad Cates, senior vice president of Natuzzi Group, will share how Natuzzi is successfully utilizing mobile tools, interactive kiosks and Web advertising to distinguish itself from the competition while driving sales.

Mark Grondin, senior vice president at Shopatron, a company that enables eCommerce for more than 800 merchant websites in 35 industries, believes the theme for the future of retail is "no boundaries." During his presentation, Grondin will discuss the need for a strong mobile strategy and will also cover trends in mobile usage, flexible fulfillment and how companies are using the new technology to boost the bottom line.

Showrooming, the practice where consumers shop a brick and mortar retail store then buy from a rival's website, often at a lower price, has become one of the most challenging issues facing independent retailers today. In his presentation, Turn the Worldwide Web into Your Local Store Web, Andy Bernstein, president of, will share a variety of strategies currently working for brick-and-mortar retailers to minimize challenges from showrooming.

To help attendees leave with new ideas, Tara Dikos, vice president of sales for Whereoware, will reveal gift and home furnishings industry trends designed to shed new light on how specialty retailers interact with vendors. The presentation, Five Surprising Industry Trends, will also equip attendees to take advantage of those trends and apply them to individual business models.

The wrap-up panel, Sales Case Studies from Real Retailers, will allow attendees to hear from key retailers such as Ash-Marie Evans of Atlanta-based furniture retailer Authenteak and online retailer Jeffrey Humphrey of, who have embraced the power of online to build brand awareness and to drive customers into the store.

"It's been said that if you take just one good idea away from any conference, your time and money have been well spent," Schneck said, adding, "But with an early-bird rate of $99, good until Oct. 15, which includes lunch, a conference binder and ample time for networking, this is an unbeatable bargain."

After Oct. 16, the cost to register is $189. To register online, visit

For additional information, contact Conference and Events Manager Heather Grant at (336) 605-1061 or email her at

Furniture Today Staff | Staff Editors

Furniture Today covers all the news concerning manufacturers, retailers and suppliers in the home furnishings sector.

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