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INTERNETRETAILING BERLIN SUMMIT Learnings from European retailers

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Senior retailers from across Europe gathered in Berlin this week for the first InternetRetailing Europe Summit.

The three-day event saw the launch of the InternetRetailing IREU Top500, described by editor-in-chief Ian Jindal as the first research and performance-based analysis of European ecommerce and multichannel retail. But at heart this was an opportunity for senior ecommerce professionals from across the European Economic Area and Switzerland to gather and discuss issues that are important in their businesses.

The proceedings were carried out under the Chatham House Rule. Here’s what the delegates said on customer experience, strategy and innovation and mobile.

Customer experience

Guiding shoppers through the process helps to narrow down the breath of choice. Recommendations and personalisation help when it comes to selling to individual shoppers.

Technology is an enabler but there needs to be an emotional connection underlying that. One brand spoke of using stores as a space for interest groups to meet that has no link to retail. The end goal is an emotional connection to the consumer, and stores and online are just ways to achieve that.

It’s a different sales pitch than 10 years ago, when product knowledge was firmly with the retailer. Disruptions to this come daily. It’s important to read and learn from the negatives, whether those are comments and reviews and stock failures, and to learn from them.

External disruptors: consumers take in fashion information so quickly that fashion cycles are shorter. There’s a need to respond to that both through marketing and at the backend.

Integrating store and online remains a challenge. The customer must understand how and why processes work.

One retailer said they had tested social channels at a group level, making it part of a CRM platform n the call centre and beyond and so enabling conversation. But there are challenges with integration.

A hassle-free experience is an imperative for the customer.

It’s important to think about trigger points – the micromoments when people think about purchases, one retailer suggested. “The true wow will come when the in-store fitting experience can be connected to the home.”

Online or store? “We’re seeing some people moving channels, but we’re also seeing people who wouldn’t go to the store. People choose what’s better for them.”

The most difficult thing? “Bringing our people along. Some of our staff have been here for 20 years or more and may not shop online themselves.”

“Data: you can measure everything online and it’s tempting to over-rely on this.”

Strategy and innovation

In designing international strategies it can be difficult to take one approach to another market. Click and collect, for example, is popular in the UK but relatively unknown in Europe.

It takes local insights to understand the local market.

It’s important to focus on keeping strategy simple when going international: that makes it scalable. That’s something that’s important when moving into markets with complex differences.


Some 3.7bn people have mobile phones, suggested the leader of this session. Mobile commerce is developing quickly – it will be possible to buy from Snapchat in the next year.

Beacons seem to be taking off less quickly.

Future developments in this area are likely to include VR and AR and even personalised billboards. Payments will become invisible, while data will mean service is more personal.

Challenges in mobile include difficulty in getting the data from this channel – though data can also show what trends are emerging.

The need to adapt to the needs of younger people who ask Siri out loud, rather than typing into Google.

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