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Now & Next

Now & Next

Now & Next

At IR Towers we recognise the importance of face-to-face meetings, the experience of ‘being there’ and the ability to focus fully on an idea or issue. While we have a growing range of events and activities, created specifically for retailers from Jumpstarts to webinars, we also appreciate that time is precious. Here are some of the learnings from recent events.

Internet Retailing held three webinars recently with diverse topics that are key trends and innovations in the etail industry. At the end of each webinar, the audience was able to ask questions of the presenters.


At the most recent webinar, hosted by Keynote on 25 October, the audience heard how Charles Vögele, a Swiss fashion retailer with more than 850 branch offices across Europe, prepares its website for peak performance during the Christmas period and beyond. Fabian Koßmehl, E-Commerce Frontend & Application Manager at Charles Vögele Trading explained how the retailer monitors its website, content and applications and how they perform on actual browsers and networks with Keynote Systems alarm management so that performance issues can be identified and corrective action taken. He revealed:

  • In the last year, five downtimes were identified immediately and action could be taken quickly. The alternative, waiting to find that the online shop wasn’t working through a customer complaint, would take “far too long,” said Koßmehl.
  • Charles Vögele also used Keynote Systems to monitor its site performance, and it identified 30 possible optimisations. Results have included a 45% reduction in home page loading times, while the time taken to move from the home page to checkout has reduced by 35%. Conversion has been boosted by 0.6%.
  • In the run up to Christmas, Charles Vögele expects up to eight times more visitors a day, with as many as 10 times more page views an hour. It will prepare by having a round-the-clock emergency plan, monitoring through both Keynote and Nagios systems, while processing power will be doubled.

Mobile was the focus for the second speaker, Robert Castley, Solutions Consultant at Keynote Systems. With the surge of tablet and smartphone use, he said, there was a need for retailers to optimise their sites for such devices. The take-away from his presentation is that 60% of tablet users now expect a download in three seconds or less, while 64% of smartphone users want to download sites in less than four seconds. Currently, however 18% of mobile commerce sites download in six seconds.


The complex question of how to choose the right ecommerce platform was tackled in a separate webinar, hosted by David Bowen, Product Manager at Episerver. He took listeners through the process step-by-step, considering both what needs a platform must meet and how the latest ecommerce technologies can both help a retailer meet those needs and keep ahead of the competition through innovation. He said:

  • Selection processes are changing. Rather than promoting a tick-box response, RFIs (requests for information) can be used to gather information on business requirements, building out from the business plan and budget, and including scenario-based demonstrations.
  • It’s important to get to know the short-listed vendor company before making a final choice, while a trial of the solution may be very useful.
  • A key task for the selection team is to understand how a vendor operates, whether it is selling its own system or working in partnership with another.


Richard Anson, founder of social commerce platform business Reevoo, was the presenter for another recent webinar on ‘Making the most of your social CRM with user-generated content’. During the course of the event, he guided listeners through the implementation and use of a social CRM system, including an in-depth look at how retailers had used such systems to deliver insights into their services and products. The audience heard:

  • Some 14% of consumers provide reviews after making a purchase, while 54% of product owners who are members of the Reevoo community respond to a query within 24 hours.
  • For consumers, the key point about social content is the trust that it inspires, said Anson. He cited GMI research from March 2012 that showed that 50% of those questioned trusted reviews collected independently, compared to 23% who trusted the feedback content provided by a brand.
  • Anson analysed Currys data to show how consumers use a site with reviews on it. The figures showed that people reading reviews were twice as likely to purchase, while they also spent 181% more time on the site and saw 138% more page views. “There are strong benefits to the brand and to consumers from social content,” he said.
  • There’s been a need for more sophisticated CRM systems that replace the more basic CRM data of earlier years. Such systems must understand what customers are saying, where they are saying it, when and why. Some argue, he said, that you don’t need old world CRM any more, but rather to understand consumer intent. His own feeling was that both were important.


Procurement is painful not simply due to the difficulty in assessing answers, but the much more important issue of getting the right question. Internet Retailing’s Jumpstart programme takes a short, sharp, intense look at a topic – concentrating upon the key questions retailers should ask. Best of all, the presentations are limited to 20 minutes each. All sessions are filmed, and, with the supporting information, provide a useful resource and stimulus for a rapid, relevant coverage of a topic. See the box for forthcoming dates and topics.

A full write up of the webinars, along with contact details, are available at

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