The fifth annual Internet Retailing Expo is taking place at Birmingham’s NEC on 25 and 26 March. Emma Herrod takes a look at what’s on offer.
The Internet Retailing Expo has grown every year since the first show in 2010 with 2014’s event seeing a 28% increase in the number of exhibitors. The exhibition area has expanded to accommodate the growing number of companies wanting to show their wares and 2015’s event is no exception with over 300 exhibitors having already signed up for March’s event. Two pavilions will showcase the latest thinking and multichannel innovations from leading companies in India and China. These companies will be happy to share expertise with UK retailers looking to move into the word’s largest markets. 2014’s Expo recorded over 5,000 visitors.
Highlighting the importance of the final mile and how it has moved from being ‘simply’ a fulfilment mechanism to being a game changer and point of differentiation for retailers, the eDelivery Expo has been launched this year to run alongside InternetRetailing Expo.
The eDelivery Expo is the only UK event serving the multichannel logistics and operations professional. It combines more than 50 exhibitors, 4 workshops, 4 expert clinics and 2 conference streams. The Retail Delivery conference stream will probe how retailers are managing the strategic and day-to-day operational challenges associated with new customer demands: What are the key logistical issues impacting successful home delivery, click and collect, ship from store and locker collection? What are the implementation costs and challenges associated with various models? How can retailers win on both timing and profit margins?
The Logistics conference stream meanwhile will examine how the rapid growth of online retail is impacting traditional infrastructure revealing new approaches for achieving efficiency, responsiveness and agility. Leading retailers will share how they are getting to grips with new technologies and operational strategies designed to meet new customer demands and – in doing so – creating fit for future retail supply chains. John Munnelly, Head of Operations – Magna Park Campus, John Lewis Partnership will open the conference stream with a presentation on automation in a D2C, Omni-channel World.
DIGITAL HIGH STREET
Another new feature to the InternetRetailing Expo is the digital high street. This area of the exhibition hall will showcase suppliers of new and innovative technologies that are driving the bricks meets clicks experience. Whether it is facial recognition software, contactless payment, smart labels, on-demand delivery, digital changing rooms, virtual stores, 3D printing shops or robotic assistants, the High Street is changing and the future looks set to include some interesting ideas and technologies. Some are already in use in retailers ‘concept stores’, ‘digital stores’ and ‘stores of the future’ but if you’re interested in digital in-store display, interactive surfaces, shelf and product labelling, dynamic inventory tracking, personalisation and tracking, journey mapping, flow management or dynamic CRM and clientelling, then this is the area of the Expo for you.
Digital in-store will also be covered across the conference streams. Andrew Murphy, Retail Director, John Lewis will be opening the Digital Sales & Marketing Conference with a presentation entitled ‘Online and the Rebirth of the High Street’. In the run up to Christmas, John Lewis saw Click & Collect orders up by 32% so Andrew’s presentation on how John Lewis is marrying traditional and digital while continuing to win on customer experience and engagement should be one to catch.
Meanwhile, over in the Omnichannel Store of the Future Conference stream, Jon Rudoe, Digital and Technology Director of Sainsbury’s will share his top tips for delivering a winning multichannel shopping experience. Marks and Spencer’s Head of Development, Digital Stores Claire Zuurbier will also talk about online and the rebirth of the high street when she takes to the stage at 11.30 on Thursday 26 March.
In a time when online and bricks and mortar retailers are cutting prices and offering discounts, Lego has been trying to be more creative, leveraging digital to win the race to the till. Shehnaaz Chenia, Lego’s Global e-Commerce Director, will share how the company is harnessing digital to create a unique customer experience and drive growth.
Mobile’s role in multichannel is another theme for the conferences. Not only is mobile at the front end of retail transformation, it is requiring a rapid response to the changing behaviour of a growing population of mobile shoppers. Speakers from NBTY Europe, Secretsales.com, made.com, Tesco, Schuh and Clarks will expand on how mobile is impacting the retail landscape, and how retailers can respond to stay ahead of the game. In this conference hear how they are generating sales on mobile and tablet devices and through transactional mobile sites and apps, how personalisation and mobile advertising are being used to increase footfall in physical and digital spaces and what’s on the horizon for mobile retail. Mat Braddy, Chief Marketing Officer at Just Eat will close the stream with look at what’s on the horizon for mobile retail in terms of augmented and virtual realities and wearable technology.
"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"
With 2014 being the year of the IPO, it’s only fitting that the International and Cross Border Conference is opened by a company that is already showing success from its IPO through expansion into new markets. AO World’s expansion to Germany has given the company “confidence in our ability to replicate our model overseas,” said Chief Executive John Roberts when reporting on financial results at the end of 2014. The company will continue its strategy to deliver a “market-leading proposition in new categories and countries”. He’ll be outlining more when he opens the International Conference on Wednesday 25 March.
For those wanting a view of China, and its big IPO success of 2014, Alibaba.com will be presenting on consumer trends in China and highlighting key challenges when expanding into this key international market. Alibaba’s Director of International e-Commerce will present at 1.15 on Thursday 26 March in the Digital Sales and Marketing stream.
There are also plenty of presentations on social media – a major reputation builder for anyone online and a key market builder for those entering new countries. Bruce Daisley, Managing Director of Twitter in the UK will discuss agile marketing and rapid response in managing corporate reputations.
At the heart of retail though is Insight and Customer Experience and this is just as crucial for pureplayers (such as Shop Direct which is opening this conference stream) as it is to multichannel or omnichannel retailers such as Argos, which is closing the conference.
The digital revolution and the rise of multichannel have dramatically changed the way that retailers are enhancing and measuring customer experience. Retailers cannot afford to miss new opportunities to embrace tools and practices designed to maximise understanding of shopping behaviours and preferences. The Insight and Customer Experience stream will explore key strategies for delivering winning customer experiences: harness big data and personalisation tools to drill deeper into customer mindsets, bridge the gap between bricks and clicks to offer seamless customer journey and experiences and harness the latest technologies as a route to forming deeper customer connections.
“From speaking with the retailers who are presenting at the InternetRetailing and eDelivery Expos, I know that they will be sharing some exciting insights into all areas of ecommerce and omnichannel retailing,” says Lisa Ploude, Conference Director, InternetRetailing. “I wish I could share some of their comments with readers now but we’ll all have to wait until 25 and 26 March for the full stories.”
InternetRetailing has also been building on its research into the UK’s Top500 retailers which was distributed with this issue of the magazine. An EU-wide report into the state’s Top500 retailers will be unveiled at the InternetRetailing Expo.
Retailers in the EU and UK Top500 rankings will have access to the Top500 Lounge at the Internet Retailing Expo. The Lounge is the meeting place for the Top500 community, enabling retailers to meet, network and conduct important business meetings in a professional but relaxed atmosphere. If you work for one of the Top500 retailers in the UK and Europe, we’ll be on hand to give you any support you need throughout your visit to the InternetRetailing Expo.
Further information is available at internetretailingexpo.com and registration is now open. The team at IR Towers look forward to greeting you at the NEC in March.