Ahead of our annual expo, we’ve asked some of our key speakers for a sneak preview of what they’ll be telling delegates to IRX 2013. Today we feature Dan Mahoney, head of operations at Zulily UK.
Internet Retailing: What will you be talking about at IRX 2013?
Dan Mahoney, head of operations at Zulily UK: International e-commerce and the cross border opportunity – more specifically, the challenges faced in being able to do this well. It’s not new that retailers have a huge opportunity to grow their customer base by selling into new territories, but there remain few who really do it well. My recent experience has involved growing UK business abroad and also working for US retailers who are trying to step into Europe.
IR: We have seen multichannel retailing steadily grow in recent years. What is contributing to this growth and how has it impacted on retail?
DM: All number of things – but as customers become increasingly comfortable with a world where the ability to touch multiple channels through various means, they have increased power and choice through the purchase process. The wonder of multi-channel retailing is the quality of data available to help guide the decision making process and push forward to deliver the experience customers are seeking, plus more.
IR: What challenges do traditional high street retailers face in connecting with customers across numerous channels?
DM: Being agile enough to adapt to the changing environment. This includes the company infrastructure, but most importantly is culture – how do the exec team view their channel opportunities and how can they innovate, versus copying the market? Hiring great people is a good start.
IR: What are the challenges of adapting to new digital customer behaviour for retailers?
DM: The power and availability of information and choice now means that retailers have to work harder than ever to keep their customers loyal, and increase their lifetime value. Retailers need to be as transparent as possible, plus having a tight focus on maintaining exceptional service and customer communications.
IR: What trends are you seeing in terms of retailers capitalising on opportunities to incorporate the customer’s voice into their strategy?
DM: A number of retailers are sharing much deeper information about their business, products and suppliers, with their customers. It’s great if you are a business who has a genuine story to tell, and can really engage with customers. User generated content and customer referrals as a source of acquisition remain a fantastic marketing opportunity for retailers too.
IR: What role will mobile commerce play in the future of retailing in terms of listening to, engaging with and analysing customer’s behaviour?
DM: It’s huge. Not a new topic, but one that is still at the very beginning of an exciting journey. There is so much data to be gained from mobile behaviour, plus customers are using mobile shopping very differently to desktop. Mobile analytics will need to play a big part.
IR: What challenges has Zulily faced when starting up?
DM: The business is only three years old, so coming to Europe so young was both exciting and challenging. Zulily has seen unprecedented success in the US, so the expectation bar for Europe was set very high from the start. The core business has needed to adapt to a very different group of customers, plus understand the road map for each of the business functions, considering US efficiency vs. European ownership.
IR: Why should retailers be utilising mobile commerce as part of their strategy?
DM: Ignore mobile at your peril. Not only does it represent a huge area for growth, it is important to give customers choice to shop how they want and interact with brands in different ways. Mobile is here and there are immediate results to be seen, if retailers understand the space and how to approach it.
IR: What new areas or innovations are you seeing retailers develop to meet the challenges of e-retailing?
DM: There have been some great innovations around service – suppliers like Shutl and ByBox have pushed service to the forefront of a retailer’s offer, and given an opportunity to deliver a unique and exciting proposition. International selling offers an even wider opportunity to deliver excellence and innovation specific to different customer groups.
IR: What are you looking forward to about Internet Retailing Expo?
DM: It’s been sometime since I attended a conference, so I’m excited to spend time listening to different retailers present their ideas on the current hot topics and how their businesses are adapting. Personally, I always find it important to tune in to the people who are working in very different marketplaces to me – it’s often where the best inspiration comes from.
Dan Mahoney is speaking in the International and Crossborder Conference conference at IRX 2013, to be held at the NEC in Birmingham on March 20 and 21. Dan will be appearing at 10.30am on March 21. For more details visit www.internetretailingexpo.com.