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IR 2012 PREVIEW Interview: Martin Gill of Forrester

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In today’s preview of our annual conference, Internet Retailing 2012 (IR 2012), to be held in London on October 9, we speak to Martin Gill , principal analyst, ebusiness and channel strategy at Forrester Research , for a preview of his conference presentation.

Internet Retailing: Your talk is about The Four Pillars of Agile Commerce: Transforming your business to serve the digital consumer. What are the headlines we can take away from what you’ll say?

Martin Gill: I’ve been looking into examples of how

leading retailers are organising themselves to not only serve customers seamlessly across channels, but also to become more agile at the same time. I will be looking at some of the key strategies they are employing and the lessons learned for other retailers looking to evolve to serve the multi touchpoint consumer.

IR: Do you see the growth in internet retail bringing many opportunities for retailers? If so, who benefits?

MG: The internet represents the most solid growth opportunity for many retailers right now, but it’s not just web sales that we need to be looking at. Retailers who are positioned to use the web, mobile, social and other emerging touchpoints to drive brand presence, store footfall and offline sales stand to gain more than just an increased online sales percentage. They have the opportunity to use the web to drive topline business growth.

IR: Who do you see as the potential winners, and the losers?

MG: Retailers who can adapt to the changing business environment, who can experiment, get to market and test new ideas will be the winners. Agility is the key.

IR: Can all retailers adapt to the new avenues of engagement?

MG: Yes, though some are finding it easier than others. But even in a traditional, conservative organisation, there are tactics that forward thinking ebusiness leaders can employ to create a groundswell of activity to develop a multichannel strategy.

IR: What do you think will be the major advances in the internet retail market this year?

MG: This is really the year of mobile, though it is important to look at mobile as much more than a new sales channel. The influence that mobile can wield in driving store footfall, helping shoppers make informed choices and bringing the best of the digital world into the physical retail environment should not be overlooked in the rush to sell products via mobile channels. Shoppers are far more likely to use their mobiles to inform their offline shopping than they are to buy directly via mobile.

IR: What else are you looking forward to seeing/discussing at the show?

MG: For me its a great opportunity to sound out some of the research theories that we are working on, to connect with industry leaders and keep in touch with what’s relevant and front of mind for eBusiness executives so that we can stay relevant in our work.

IR: Say we do this interview again in 10 years time. What would you expect to be the main topics of discussion?

MG: The retail world is going to look so different in 10 years time. We will be talking seriously about the demise of cash, the re-invention of the retail store into an experiential engagement and a whole load of other things. But I think most critically we won’t be having an internet retailer conference. We will be having a ‘retailer’ conference. It won’t be possible to think of the internet as ‘something other folks do’. Businesses will either be fundamentally digital, or they won’t exist.

Martin Gill is speaking in Stream 1 of IR 2012. His presentation, The Four Pillars of Agile Commerce: Transforming your business to serve the digital consumer, will start at 11.20am.

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