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IRC 2013 PREVIEW Keynote speaker Ilan Benhaim of vente-privee.com

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Ahead of the eighth annual Internet Retailing Conference (IRC 2013) we’re running a series of previews of the event, focusing on the highlights of the one-day conference. Today we preview the keynote address that will be given by Ilan Benhaim, co-founder of vente-privee.com.

Since vente-privee.com started its flash-sales business in 2001, its experience of ecommerce has changed enormously. Back then, it had 200 members – mostly friends of the founders. Today it has 19m members across the eight European countries where it operates alone (in the US it has partnered with American Express) and welcomes 2.5m visitors a day to its deeply-discounted, time-limited sales. Of those visitors, 120,000 place an order: some 60% of items in a sale are sold within the first few hours of the sale going live. Turnover has tripled since 2008, and while most flash sales are held to clear end-of-line stock, launches of products and even of music have been held on the site as brands of all kinds look to raise their profile before its large audiences. No less a brand than music icon Iggy Pop launched his album Après exclusively on the site in 2012.

Co-founder Ilan Benhaim, speaking to Internet Retailing magazine ahead of IRC 2013, says if things have changed for vente-privee, the online experience has also changed enormously for the brands that it works with in recent years.

Back in 2008, when vente privee launched in the UK, only 40% of brands had ecommerce sites. Today that number is more than 80%. But brands, says Benhaim, have a problem online. “Brands have an impressive level of natural traffic and don’t need to pay for traffic but their conversion is poor. Ninety-five per cent of sites that we see are converting at 2% or less,” he says.

Vente-privee is one tool that brands are increasingly using as they look to make their ecommerce operation a more profitable part of their business. Benhaim argues that if brands start now they can work steadily towards making 20% of their sales online by 2025 through a strategy of launching international sites in countries where it’s well known and by developing cross-channel operations. Ecommerce, he says, is a solution to selling more in store – the closest product to the customer, after all, is likely to be not in the warehouse but in a store.

Ilan Benhaim will consider how brands can reap the benefits of the internet while transforming user experience on and offline and across international borders at Internet Retailing Conference 2013, where he is one of three opening keynote speakers.

Click here to read Emma Herrod’s Internet Retailing magazine interview with Ilan Benhaim in full. Find out more about Internet Retailing Conference 2013 by clicking here.

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