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Editor's Comment (March 2015 - IRM51)

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The last thing I bought online was a box of hoover bags. Not very exciting but a necessity since after visiting the same shop twice in the past week and being told that they were expecting a delivery in the next day, I was let down by the fact that they weren’t actually part of the delivery. I’d have been happy to buy the item at full price, or even a bit more if I’d known they would be there, no discount code, promotional price or loyalty points were necessary to entice me in. Why didn’t I click and collect? The second visit was a “while I’m passing” impulse because I hadn’t got around to ordering them online. Now I have – but with someone else – offering them at a lower price with free delivery. Yet another purchase the high street has missed out on, simply because of an empty peg, no stock and the store not knowing what would be on the delivery.

Luckily most purchases are more exciting than hoover bags: the Black Friday TV, the post-Christmas sales shoes and the January-booked summer holiday. While I’m racking up the discounts, some retailers are licking their wounds and worrying about margin decreases over Black Friday and a drop in sales in January as shoppers bagged the bargains in December instead. But, as long as retailers have products that customers want, and shoppers are happy to buy then isn’t that the aim of all this?

This issue of InternetRetailing takes a look at product; the product lifecycle may start with design, range planning and launch and, in an ideal world, ends with satisfied customers, no returns and minimal clearance stock, but in between may come a raft of promotional and pricing tactics aimed at achieving this perfect sell through – and for multichannel retailers those tactics can be increasingly complex. In a time when consumers may claim to want consistent prices and promotions across channels, Penelope Ody investigates why that doesn’t mean those offers have to be the same for everyone.

Taking that personalisation further, Niklas Hedin, CEO, Centiro, provides comment on linking delivery management with CRM to personalise online returns.

However, with a new product launching every three minutes around the globe, the world is now more competitive than ever. Whether you are selling through retailers or direct to consumers, understanding customer behaviour and predicting sales before they happen gives a competitive advantage that most businesses can only dream of. In his guest feature, Ben Latham of online marketing specialists Summit asks whether the past is a good indication of the future.

Peter Charness, Chief Marketing Officer, TXT takes us through range and assortment planning in an omnichannel era, while Mark Collin, Head of European Retail, ThoughtWorks explains why delivery – rather than product – is becoming the differentiator within retail.

On the high street though, it’s technology that is making the difference and there can be no doubt that technology, especially mobile, is going to play a key role in in-store merchandising. “While mobile and online shopping continue to grow,” says Paul Skeldon, “the draw of the High Street remains strong. Consumers don’t want an ‘either/or’ choice when it comes to being sold to, they want both. They want technology and they want the High Street. So how do you make that happen?”

The digital high street is just one of the conference themes at the InternetRetailing Expo (IRX) which is taking place on 25 and 26 March. More than 7,000 visitors are expected to make their way to Birmingham’s NEC to hear from the keynote speakers at the six conferences which are being held across the two days and join in the panel discussions and explore the exhibition hall. Peter Burn, Online Marketing Manager, Waitrose, said of the 2014 event: “What always amazes me about IRX is there are always some new suppliers with some really interesting new technology. I really enjoy talking to them because potentially they could be the supplier that could help us to drive our ecommerce business in the future”.

The six conference tracks at IRX will focus on the key issues for pureplay and multichannel retailers with keynote presentations from John Roberts, Founder and Chief Executive of AO.com, Gareth Jones, Deputy Chief Executive of Shop Direct, Lisa Hardy, Chief Marketing Officer at NBTY Europe, Andrew Murphy, Retail Director at John Lewis, Jon Rudoe, Digital and Technology Director at Sainsbury’s, Martijn Bertisen, Director, Retail, at Google UK.

John Munnelly, Head of Operations at the Magna Park Campus at John Lewis Partnership will keynote the conference track at the first eDelivery Expo which is running alongside IRX. A full preview of both events is included in this issue of InternetRetailing and online at www.internetretailingexpo.com. The team at IR Towers look forward to meeting you there.
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