With 5,000 visitors, 100 retail speakers, 250 exhibitors, 28 conferences and workshops, last week was a big week for eDelivery – a huge week, an exciting week. It was the week of the first ever eDelivery Expo (EDX) which ran in parallel with IRX, the expo from our colleagues at InternetRetailing.
Many hundreds of visitors came to listen to some of the great speakers in the eDelivery theatre, where I was fortunate enough to be acting as chairman a lot of the time. We were thrilled to have speakers from some of the biggest retail names on stage with us, such as Tesco, John Lewis, Amazon, Mondelez, and Dixons Carphone Warehouse, to name but a few.
Among the audience we had a fantastic cross section of people connected with retail logistics, from Cambridge University PhD students, to representatives of UK government departments, from retailers and logistics professionals to members of the press.
There isn’t room to list everyone, so instead here are some of the things that stood out for me, which included:
- The full house we had for Wednesday afternoon’s discussion panel, which featured Damian May of John Lewis, Ed Osborne of Tesco, and Stéphane Tomczak from Fevad/Ecommerce Europe. The discussion there was on the topic of exceeding customer expectations in the final mile, which remains one of the thorniest of issues.
- The enormous queue of delegates wanting to speak to Robyn Doyle from Dixons Carphone after her talk on customer experience and ROI had concluded.
- The similarly long queue of people wanting to receive copies of the research Dr Jonathan Gorst referred to throughout his talk on Thursday about how to turn the logistical challenge of returns management into a commercial opportunity.
- Niklas Hedin from Centiro, one of the show’s sponsors, and his excellent use of the ‘how do you make toast’ analogy to explain how processes can become unnecessarily over-complicated if you’re not careful.
- The live Q&A session I did on Thursday afternoon with Catherine Hillerby of Mondelēz, who bravely stepped in at the last minute to cover for someone else and talk about the role of the supply chain in boardroom discussions.
- The strong turnout to hear sessions from John Munnelly from John Lewis and Guy Meisl of Deckers, who both talked about their experiences and the role of automation.
And of course, the demonstration of the drone, thanks to Scurri and SkyGlide. No one I spoke to at the show thinks drones are in the immediate future of UK deliveries, but they have become a talisman for debating the issue of innovation in the sector, and that’s no bad thing.
Whether drones will still on the discussion agenda at all in 12 month’s time is hard to say. What is more certain though is that EDX16 is something I’m already looking forward to.