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Michael Clarke Sales Director, PFS (IRM56)

PFS combines integrated technologies, professional services, and a worldwide network of systems and logistics capabilities to deliver global commerce solutions for leading retailers and brands. The vision of CEO Michael Willoughby includes a comprehensive commerce solution that combines consulting, agency, technology, and operations. This portfolio of services allows us to deliver everything from customised omni-channel order fulfilment with high-touch customer care to creative digital marketing strategies and site development.

While we offer all of these services on their own (such as consulting or design) or as part of our end-to-end services, every solution provided is handled by a single contact in the U.K.. We can also advise on global expansions as we have considerable experience launching brands in new geographies.

What is the advantage of using an end-to-end provider?

Using an end-to-end provider eliminates the need and time to teach or employ people with a new skill set or market knowledge. By outsourcing the complex responsibilities of, for example, order fulfillment, a company can tap into our expertise and a ready-built logistics framework to reduce extensive start-up and management costs.

When entering new markets, there isn’t a substantial learning curve for us as we have previous experience with a multitude of industries, solutions, and countries. Expansion itself also doesn’t have to be a permanent arrangement; sometimes clients decide to start managing a country themselves once the presence is established, or bring back in-house part of a solution, such as certain digital marketing services.

Finally given our extensive technology ecosystem and best-of-breed partners, our clients have access to a complete solution and don’t need to engage multiple third party providers to support different parts of their operation.

How has PFS adapted to changes in the eCommerce market?

Historically, PFS started as a logistics provider, and has since adapted alongside the constantly evolving eCommerce industry. This includes expanding into call centers as well as designing and building sites and digital strategies to attract new customers for our clients. With over 100 Demandware builds worldwide, we have a strong and longstanding partnership with Demandware. We’ve also worked with Oracle ATG and Magento for many years and after recent acquisitions we now have capabilities to develop and support commerce solutions utilising IBM WebSphere Commerce and SAP hybris.

What do you see being the major trends for retailers going into 2016?

In 2016, the industry expects a larger, more integrated use of beacon technology, a Bluetooth based technology with the ability to transmit messages or prompts directly to nearby smartphones or tablets. These will likely be used to send shoppers incentives (such as coupons or real-time sales) to buy products in-store.

The importance of smartphones and tablets will also increase as the mobile shopping trend continues to gain momentum. With the growing use of standardised digital purchasing (think simplified, one-touch check-out), it’s expected that shoppers use their mobile devices to buy more in 2016 than ever before.

Real-time analytics are also expected to be more important this year, as they enable digital teams to personalise user experiences, assisting in the process of making predictive recommendations to browsing shoppers. This customised on-site content will theoretically save some ‘lost’ sales due to a user’s inability to locate products within the site.

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