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INTERNET RETAILING AWARDS Interview with Siobhán Géhin of Kurt Salmon

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Ahead of the Internet Retailing Awards, we’ve grabbed five minutes with the sponsors of our awards to ask them both about their latest thinking on UK online and multichannel retailing in general and about the Internet Retailing Awards 2013 in particular.

Today we’re talking to Siobhán Géhin, associate partner at Kurt Salmon. Kurt Salmon is the research partner for the awards.

Internet Retailing: What does the shortlist for the Internet Retailing Awards 2013 say to you about the development of online and multichannel retailing in the UK today?

Siobhán Géhin, associate partner, Kurt Salmon: This year’s shortlist is a real mix, with long-established retailers such as M&S and John Lewis featuring alongside pure-play giants such as Amazon and ASOS and smaller challenger companies such as – testament to the fact that internet retailing is no longer for a select few, but part of the mainstream fabric of retail.

IR: Why was it important to Kurt Salmon to support these awards – and what do you think it is that makes a standout ecommerce or multichannel retailer?

SG: This is the second year Kurt Salmon has supported these awards. For us, it’s a great opportunity to reflect and what’s new and what’s good or not so good in ecommerce and multichannel retail, and to listen to some fresh viewpoints on the various players in the market. A standout ecommerce or multichannel retailer: while pure-plays can focus entirely on great product, slick customer experience and great service, multichannel retailers have a trickier time of it in many ways because they have to integrate all this technology, innovation and new processes into a traditional retailing business. Those multichannel players who manage to still deliver great customer experience profitably, while embracing change, stand out for me – and on this basis I think John Lewis is a great example of a successful multichannel retailer.

IR: What’s your hot tip for the year ahead, whether a new technology, an upcoming retailer or advice on a way of thinking about multichannel retailing?

SG: Customer power has been a hot topic for a while – expect to see more of it. Mobile technology will enable customers to engage more easily in price comparisons on the spot while shopping, and retailers on this side of the pond will, I think, be engaging further in diverse ways to offer more true value to customers. The players who succeed will be the ones who manage to do this profitably, be it via enhanced own brand credentials, footfall-driving mobile promotions, service innovations etc.

IR: What are you most looking forward to about the Internet Retailing Awards Evening?

SG: Where to start! An amazing venue, lots of interesting people, a chance to catch up with friends old and new, and of course the thrill and suspense of the awards…

IR: As a professional, who are you thinking of voting for in the Internet Retailing Award 2013 (the top retailer as voted for by readers of Internet Retailing)?

SG: John Lewis, for continued outstanding customer experience while truly transforming the shape of the business in terms of the participation of online/ click and collect sales.

Marks & Spencer, for commitment to innovation – while they haven’t got it right yet, their approach will yield dividends in the long run.

I have to add Amazon – apart from the outstandingly seamless and well-designed experience, their approach to Marketplace is bringing a whole world of cross-border trade within the reach of small and medium enterprises and in a quiet way, is truly transformational.

IR: What’s your prediction for how industry will have changed by the time of next year’s awards?

SG: By next year’s awards, I think national boundaries will have blurred even more for many retailers. We saw in the judging panel this year the extent to which many players – ASOS being the prime example but now many other fashion retailers are following – are becoming more global in a way which is specifically enabled by ecommerce. More of this during the year to come I believe.

The Internet Retailing Awards will be held at SushiSamba, 664ft up at London’s Heron Tower on Wednesday June 26. For more information, click here, and to find out about tickets to the event click here.

There’s still time to vote in the Internet Retailing Award 2013, which is voted for by Internet Retailing readers. To cast your vote, click here.

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