InternetRetailing Conference roundup
The 11th annual InternetRetailing Conference took place in London in mid-October. Emma Herrod reports on some of the insight shared by retailers at the event.
Ian Jindal, InternetRetailng’s Editor-in-Chief opened the conference by introducing the theme of New Horizons: Ecommerce professionals, for over a decade at the vanguard of innovation and radical change, are themselves now having to adapt and change as ecommerce is no longer a channel but an equal partner with stores. He introduced the keynote speakers – from Airbnb, Urban Outfitters and Halfords – and they shared their thoughts on how new horizons in marketplaces, international and mobile are shifting and providing new opportunities for retail growth and differentiation.
You can read more of their insight and learnings in this issue’s main interview on page 10.
Following the keynote presentations, the conference split into three simultaneously-running streams examining engagement, growth and transformation.
Leif Bode Neilsen, Head of Omni-Channel EMEA, Lego , talked to delegates about how the Lego credo of “only the best is good enough”, doesn’t fit well with a fail fast approach. Omnichannel, for Lego, has meant getting to know the customer and what works for the brand. The company wants customers to interact with people in store and not glass screens.
A lot of mockups were built inhouse before the ecommerce and omnichannel platform was built so that issues could be overcome beforehand. “When we built it we immediately understood there were tons of things we could use it for. We wanted to be sure we were doing the right thing,” he said. The solutions also had to be scalable and not overengineered.
David Williams, eCommerce Director, Deckers Brands, speaking in the growth stream, shared insight into how the company is organised for international ecommerce success not just across its different brands, which include Ugg , Teva and Hokka One One, but also across channels of wholesale and retail.
He spoke about the challenges of legacy systems (now overcome by a “hassle-free” cloud SaaS ebusiness platform), getting the business through the cultural change of understanding the speed that consumers want rather than concessions and wholesale business and the challenges of using assets internationally. He cites photography of quarterback Tom Brady modelling for Ugg working in the US where he is well-known but he’s virtually unknown in Europe.
This raises questions such as how much is centralised in the US, in Europe or localised at a regional level. “Do we have people in Europe, in London only and how do we integrate and share information with China and Japan,” he questioned.
He explained to delegates that brands looking to international markets can use their brand equity and introduce international shipping as an easy place to start. “When you’re ready localisation leads to huge growth,” he said . He also said that you learn as you go every time you enter a new market.
Key takeaways from his presentation were: international business maturity brings new challenges around scale; learn from your mistakes and those of others; Technology is getting better, keep on in top of it; Glocalise; Structure your team around products not just functions; Digital agility is essential for maturing internationally.
He said that he now feels comfortable that the structure is in place for Deckers Brands to manage launches in other countries.
Following a doom and gloom presentation about doing business in Europe post-Brexit by Professor John Ryan, Visiting Fellow at the London School of Economics, four retailers from South America gave insight into their booming ecommerce markets. Brazil is the largest market for ecommerce growing at almost 16% year-on-year in 2015. It is also the biggest in terms of distances for fulfilment of orders and the level of internet penetration. It has reached the point where if companies in Brazil don’t have a strong ecommerce presence they will fail, warned Cláudia Elisa, CEO, FNAC Brasil.
Closing the ‘Transform’ stream, Neil Dulake, Industry Head – Retail, Google showed delegates how “no-one goes online anymore, we live online”. The world is moving from mobile first to an AI first world with developments including virtual reality (Google will launch its Daydream device in November), Google Home (again launching in November, Home is Google’s AI-within-a-speaker answer to Amazon Echo) and of course the Google Assistant on its Pixel phone.
Dulake believes that “machine learning will be the next generation of search”.
He gave the audience three trends to think about:
- Show up: Retailers need to show up in the moments that matter – 76% of mobile searches result in a same-day store visit. If shoppers are staying at home, then they are watching videos and the big trend here are videos showing someone taking a new product out of the box. “Put your products next to the video of a person unboxing the product so they can click through to buy,” he offered.
- Wise up: Searches for “near me” have doubled in the past 2 years and they peak at Christmas, especially during the week of 13-19 December when people click on an advert and then appear in store. Google has engineers who will wander around the store tracking wifi signals.
- Speed up: Dulake told delegates that every millisecond speed increase drives revenue by 5%. Linking that to a Google product he said that the FASTER cable which links the US and Japan is now live. The six-fiber pair cable will deliver a bandwidth of up to 60 Terabits per second. Speed is also down to how fast retailers react, such as Audi’s spoof video of John Lewis’ Christmas advert. Last Christmas there was twice as much video created by brands as the year before driving 70% more views. A more recent example is the social media-led campaign to call vegan dairy-free cheese at Sainsbury’s Gary (because it’s not cheese).
Ultimately though, he warned that retailers need to wise up since 54% of time spent online with any retailer in the US is spent with Amazon . “So you need to know where Amazon is,” he concluded.
Videos of the conference sessions are now available to view on IRTV at youtube.com/user/internetretailing
or via internetretailingconference.com