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The industry gathers (IRM54)

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October sees the tenth, annual InternetRetailing Conference and the launch of the eDelivery Conference. Emma Herrod shares a preview of who’ll be there and how you can join in the debates.

The InternetRetailing Conference is well known for being a practitioner-led, case study based event. Delegates are used to hearing from professionals who have led and delivered significant projects for globally-renowned retailers, brands and services. They’ve listened to the lessons those retailers have learned and how they have overcome the challenges of the day be that the introduction of ratings and reviews, personalisation, rich media or customers collecting their online purchases from store.

2015 sees the tenth annual InternetRetailing Conference taking place on 14 October. It takes a decadian theme as it looks to the fundamentals of multichannel retail, looking past the trends – which in this fast-changing industry every twitch, innovation and new opportunity can be hailed as a trend – to assess the longer term directions and currents.

By being part of the fabric of retail and multichannel over the past decade, the three keynote speakers are able to analyse the past and focus on the future when they stand up to speak to delegates at the InternetRetailing Conference on 14 October. They are aware that the coming decade is a time of full integration, of digital leadership transforming the organisation and also a time of customer expectation and intolerance for anything less than excellence. As they look forward, the notion of a ‘decade’ might lull the industry into just awaiting a rosy future but as they know action is needed on a daily basis and so as the keynotes consider the future, the industry must adopt a ‘520-week’ view that helps balance the urgency of “now” with the importance of the “next”.

Starting the keynote session at 9am is Peter Williams, Chairman of two online retailers – boohoo.com and Mister Spex – as well as being Chairman of Jaeger and non-executive director of a number of other businesses including property portal Rightmove, cinema chain Cineworld and Sportech owner of the Football Pools. His Board background includes iconic brands such as Selfridges and Asos so he has been involved with retail from many different business structures and stages of growth.

Also bringing his expertise and decadian view to the Conference is Patrick Bousquet-Chavanne, Member of the Board & Executive Director - Marketing & International, M&S. With more than 25 years of extensive experience in the international branded consumer goods industry, in London, Paris and New York, Patrick will be able to draw on extensive knowledge and experience in developing and marketing brands globally – along with a broad knowledge of enhancing business performance and customer experience.

The third keynote speaker is Gareth Jones, Deputy CEO and Group Chief Operating Officer, Shop Direct. He has seen the company transform from catalogue company to digital leader and has driven dramatic growth at the company since joining as Brand Director for Very.co.uk in 2009. Gareth’s responsibilities span ecommerce, customer experience, intelligence and services, strategy, Very Exclusive, fulfilment, operations and process excellence.

The InternetRetailing Conference though is also a place for debate and with delegates as senior as the speakers, the q&a sessions are as informative as the presentations, getting to the crux of the subjects and the conference tracks: The Customer; Product & Services; The Order.

IRC: THE CUSTOMER

Without customers there’s no business. While customer acquisition, retention and conversion has always been at the heart of retail strategy, rapidly evolving technologies have enabled a host of new tools to connect with, sell to and fulfil new expectations for product availability and delivery.

One technology that has revolutionised retail is mobile. Ten years ago mobile was nowhere, now it is everywhere and leading ecommerce growth. New Look, for example, saw mobile orders rise 115% in its last financial year. The company’s Group Digital Director, Jack Smith, with share how the company managed this rise to a point where mobile now accounts for 45% of all online visits.

Social media has also dramatically changed the way that consumers interact with brands, but what complexities and challenges need to be understood before social can be fully leveraged to enhance customer engagement which can be harnessed as a competitive weapon? Dara Nasr, Sales Director, Twitter will share all.

As Caroline Rolfe, Global Director – Digital, ghd advises ahead of her presentation, “Deepen your customer connections by taking that extra step online and you will reap the rewards throughout your business”.

IRC: PRODUCTS AND SERVICES

Rapidly evolving technologies have presented a host of new opportunities to entice and delight online shoppers but reaching audiences needs to become smarter to cut through the other clutter fighting for attention. Sarah Baillie, Head of Multi Channel Business Development, House of Fraser will look at questions such as why it is necessary for retailers to manage the entire customer experience and how journey mapping can increase loyalty, ROI and customer satisfaction.

Driving a seamless customer experience across customer touchpoints is an absolute imperative for retailers hoping to win business from the ‘on the go’ consumer. As Mark Felix, Director – Online Trade, John Lewis will tell delegates, getting to grips with the omnichannel journey and the impact of merchandising is key to defining metrics for success.

The next phase of the retail revolution is data driven, personalised customer experiences. Computers can analyse data faster than humans and accurately predict what products and content are most relevant to a site visitor. As Jon Asbury, Multichannel Director, GO Outdoors believes, using automated systems to deliver relevant and personalised content is another step on the evolutionary ladder.

IRC: THE ORDER

The ‘unit of commerce’ in multichannel is the order. More so than the sale, it is the creation of an order that drives operations to pick, pack, ship and deliver – whether to home, store or collection point.

Offering a superior customer experience is essential to drive satisfaction but also loyalty – and speed and flexibility are at the heart of what customers are demanding from retailers today, believes Gaetano Sodo, General Manager, Global Ray-Ban Direct-to-Consumer, Luxottica Group.

Robin Phillips, Multichannel Director, Boots will share insight into bridging the gap between mobile and in-store and how brands can drive loyalty in an increasingly fickle market.

What of retailing tomorrow? Ecommerce is advancing at an unprecedented pace with new technologies and strategies driving retail growth, innovation and new opportunities for ROI. Where are the biggest growth opportunities and how are retail giants and new entrants using technology to win and increase market share in the brave new retail universe? Martijn Bertisen, Director - Retail, Google UK will close this part of the Conference with his views on ‘technology to futureproof your business’.

EDELIVERY CONFERENCE

The inaugural eDelivery Conference (EDC) will take place on 13 October – the day prior to the InternetRetailing Conference. Again, focusing on the board-level discussion, the eDelivery Conference will celebrate the collaboration, imagination and rigour of supply chain professionals and explore how today, tomorrow and in the coming years they can truly fulfil the multichannel promise.

As ecommerce growth within retail has been enabled by click and collect and cross-channel capabilities, so the focus with multichannel retail has turned to the logistics, operations and supply chain professionals ‘behind the buy button’. Increasingly seen as a service to the customer-facing commercial teams, and our focus in our inaugural eDelivery Conference is to consider how the increasingly-demanding promises are made and delivered.

eDelivery Conference is the ‘Rosetta stone’ between the hard-iron realities of large-scale operations and the irresistible force of the connected customer. The Conference will follow the Board-level agenda between expert, senior operations and supply chain leaders with their commercial peers on the Board.

However, eDelivery is a peer-led Conference and so we will not only look at the ‘solutions’ offered to the business, but the approaches, challenges and learnings that underpin the successes.

The conference will be keynoted by Shop Direct who will present not just on their experience and achievements but give a three-way view, illuminating how through working across silos they affect change and delivery for the demanding multichannel customer. Three senior leaders – Paul Miller, Director of Logistics; Dan Rubel, Group Strategy & Communications Director; and Jonathan Wall, Director – eCommerce, will share the retailer’s journey from a giant in the mail order business to a pioneering digital retailer at scale.

The conference then splits into the three, intense parallel streams of Growth, Fashion and Apparel and The Non-stop Sales Cycle to investigate, analyse and debate the learnings, innovations and trends supporting the theme of ‘Beyond the Buy Button’.

EDC: GROWTH

Delivery and fulfilment are quickly becoming the point of differentiation for retailers vying to cash in on burgeoning commercial opportunities entailed by the rapid increase in online shopping. But how do you align supply chain, delivery and customer experience, what are the implementation costs associated with various models and how can retailers win on both timing and profit margins?

These are some of the issues that the expert speakers in the ‘Growth’ stream, including Craig Wheeler, Operations Director, feelunique.com, will be addressing.

“We’ve seen a lot improvements in the way retailers are attracting customers, and brands are building trust and communities, but ecommerce, and retail in general, is still far behind where it should be regarding order fulfilment,” says Julien Callede, COO & Co-Founder, Made.com, ahead of his Future Ball Gazing interview to close this part of the Conference.

EDC: FASHION AND APPAREL

Given the fast seasonal turnaround, the vagaries of trends, the complexities of structured products, availability and returns, this track is focused on key learnings from the leaders in Fashion and Apparel. In a market where speed is key, customers can be here today, gone tomorrow. Fashion retailers have a small window of opportunity to put customers and products together and to do this they must have control over their supply chains. How is the fashion and apparel industry overcoming a myriad of challenges to drive growth and innovation?

Guy Meisl, Head Of European Distribution, Deckers Outdoor is happy to admit that for retailers it isn’t easy being trendy. He cites seasonal merchandise, short cycles and fickle consumers as just some of the challenges.

Richard Jenkins, Head of RFID Strategic Development, M&S will share insight into the challenges and rewards of the world’s first full-scale RFID rollout. He comments: “Having control over the end-to-end supply chain is imperative in today’s omnichannel fashion retailing. The adoption of RFID not only increases stock accuracy and availability but also drives improved customer satisfaction.”

Omnichannel fulfilment adds extra challenges. Every retailer has to make choices around how they can leverage inventory throughout the supply chain and retail store network to provide a seamless customer experience. Alex Watson, Global Transport Manager, SuperGroup and Nicola Wilson, eCommerce Development Manager, Joseph are among the panel of retailers who will debate the issue of fulfilling new omnichannel demands.

Xavier de Lecaros-Aquise, Co-Founder & COO, Girl Meets Dress will close this part of the Conference with a view of the ‘Supply Chain of Tomorrow’.

EDC: THE NON-STOP SALES CYCLE

Selling does not stop with the sale. The explosion of customer information readily available on shopping preferences and habits has increased retailers’ ability to measure, forecast and deliver customer preferences and demands like never before.

Sainsbury’s, for example, offers ship from store, locker collection, Click & Collect as well as reduced delivery times, but what do customers value more – lower delivery costs, speedier service, more delivery options? Dave Crellin, Head of Online Operations Development, Sainsbury’s will share insight into its customers’ expectations.

A proportion of what is sold is also returned and multichannel aftersales management can be disastrous to the bottom line, customer experience and back room operations and practice. However, as Alistair Sercombe, Head of Customer Returns, Argos will show, it can also be turned from a logistical challenge into a commercial opportunity.

Supplier relationships though are increasingly critical to supply chain effectiveness. Working with multiple carriers, diverse networks, modes of transport and fulfilment models can be challenging. Maxim Romain, General Manager – Europe, Wayfair, will share his experience of collaborating with suppliers to increase efficiency and ROI.

As Andy Brown, Central Operations Director, Argos Stores comments, ahead of his presentation in which he’ll share his view of the future of e-delivery for the retail industry: “It takes inspiration, customer insight and the ability to test, learn and scale to not only keep up with changing customer demands but to push the boundary for the wider retail industry”.

To view the full agendas, details of the companies exhibiting and to register as a delegate, visit internetretailingconference.com and edeliveryconference.com.
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