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IRC 2017 INTERVIEW Gabrielle O’Hare on the importance of content

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Ahead of this year’s InternetRetailing Conference (IRC 2017) we’re previewing the event through features and interviews with key speakers. This week we hear from Gabrielle O’Hare, content director at ContentQueen. Until May, Gabrielle was at Argos where she ran the retailer’s in-house content production facility, leading a project on end-to-end content strategy.

InternetRetailing: How do you see retailers’ use of content at the moment, in 2017?

Gabrielle O’Hare, content director at Content Queen: There continues to be a growing interest in the recognition of the value of content in digital retail. Of course there are different levels of maturity with content across the retail market in the UK, but many seem to be plateauing out into a fairly consistent content set that comprises home page campaigns and category call outs, links to blog posts, creating department landing pages, and buyers guides, and of course general product content.

The retailers who do well with their content, pay attention to the consistency across all content types, and importantly, value the quality and thoroughness of the product content as much as the more glamorous content at the front end. JD Sports spring to mind on this front.

Other retailers who get content right, are those who clearly understand their customer needs and their products and know how to translate that to their content strategy. Curry’s PC World and do a brilliant job at this.

IR: What do you see as one key challenge in this area – and do you have any advice?

GOH: I do a lot of research into content journeys on retail desktop and mobile sites, specifically looking at campaign content and category content and how it links into the customer journey, from homepage to PDP, so I am constantly looking closely at a wide range of retailers.

The most common problem I see is the lack of access that customers have to the content that is produced. Content often sits outside of the natural customer journey and the way sites are set up, and the way content is placed, most shoppers don’t have access to it.

IR: What is the one big benefit that retailers and brands stand to gain?

GOH: If I were a retailer and had to focus my resource on improving just one content area, it would be product content. Product content has the most traffic by far – and is the only content type that is fundamental to site, mobile and apps. Because of the size of product ranges, product content has been heavily commoditised, and the result of this is that shoppers get a very poor understanding of the product.

Improving product content has the potential to create hefty conversion increases, which would off-set the cost of improvements, but seems to be an overlooked tactic.

IR: How do you see this area developing in years to come?

GOH: For me, the future of content will be about developing clear content models that are scalable and effective across all platforms. Content demands are currently growing, but this won’t be sustainable from both a cost and logistics point of view. By focussing on defining content frameworks, retailers will be clearer about the roles and performance expectations of each content type, and will have greater control over production efficiencies.

IR: Aside from your own round table at IRC 2017, what are you most looking forward to at the event?

GOH: This year, I’m looking forward to hearing Sean McKee from Schuh speak. I admire them as a company for many reasons, but I’m always keen to learn from retailers who really value content and use it to give their customers a great product experience, and Sean falls into that category for me.

Gabrielle O’Hare is hosting a round table in the Analyse and Conquer stream at IRC 2017. The round table, How you should be integrating content across your business, is at 10.45am.

This is the 12th annual edition of the event and this year focuses on energising retail. It runs alongside sister event the eDelivery Conference, and will be held at the Novotel, Hammersmith, London. One pass gives entry to both events with speakers including Giles Delafeld, global CIO, Clarks; Bill Hopkins, executive director of operations and logistics, Trainline; Philip Driver, head of ecommerce EMEA, Canon Europe; and Regis Koenig, director of customer services, Darty.

For further information on the conferences, and to register for your delegate pass, visit

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