The InternetRetailing Conference returns to London on 12 October for its 11th year. Emma Herrod shares a preview of the speakers and topics to be discussed under the 2016 event’s overarching theme of new horizons.
This year’s Internet Retailing Conference (IRC16) explores the theme of new horizons as it looks to the future of ecommerce and omnichannel retail.
IRC16 is the 11th year for the Conference, and as the event moves into its second decade it focuses on changes in both the way that shoppers buy, and how retailers sell that are likely to come in future. 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. Thus for 2016, the one-day conference is looking to the new horizons that the modern digitally-enabled retailer can scan as they seek to satisfy the demands of the connected, savvy customer.
Marketplaces, the role of mobile and international – all key issues for the future of retail – will come under scrutiny during the plenary session. It’s here that the InternetRetailing Conference sets a direction for retail that bridges the experience of the last decade and the next stage of digitally-led transformation. Delegates will hear from the industry trailblazers, who have been defining and shaping retail strategy for the past decade and are still at the helm, responding and reacting to new technologies and customer demands to map a blueprint for change and success in the years ahead.
James McClure, General Manager – UK & Ireland, Airbnb will speak as a disruptor, not just of marketplaces but of the travel and hotel industry. Airbnb is one of the success stories of the peer-to-peer sharing economy. Even No 10 Downing Street has been listed as a place to stay in London – although it was swiftly taken down from the site when it was discovered to be a hoax listing.
Tony Rivenell, Chief Digital Officer at Halfords will talk on the theme of new horizons in mobile. Delegates at IRC16 will gain insight into how he has helped the UK’s leading organisations implement change and keep pace with the ever-changing demands of the always on, multichannel consumer. Currently Chief Digital Officer at Halfords, Rivenell has also held high profile leadership roles at Boots, Waitrose and Ocado. In the past financial quarter, Halfords has enjoyed an increase in sales both online and in store and through its use of the Nectar loyalty scheme the company now says that it “knows 25% of its customers” personally, up from just 3% last year. Recently, the retailer has successfully piloted contactless payments and also launched the Cycle Republic website.
Andrew McClean, Head of International and Chief Operating Officer, Urban Outfitters , will then give a presentation on international horizons. Having been responsible for all European shared service operations at Urban Outfitters since 2009, Andrew McClean can share insight into finance, logistics, development and talent acquisition from the point of view of fashion retail and wholesale.
Following the plenary session, the conference will split into three simultaneously-running conference tracks. These will anticipate the response to the new retail pressures of engage, grow and transform. Speakers hail from retailers and service providers as diverse as Home Retail Group , Urban Outfitters, Lego , Woolovers and Vente-Privée.
ENGAGE – THE MOBILE, CUSTOMER AND DIGITAL MARKETING
Mobile is driving the acceleration of ecommerce; tablets/smartphones have become shopping assistants of choice and customers are using these devices to place orders and demand faster, slicker and more convenient delivery. In this conference track, delegates will be able to get to grips with how their peers are using the latest technologies to understand customer preferences better, how the trailblazers are bridging the gap between physical and mobile to deliver a more seamless and memorable customer experience.
Speakers will also investigate how retailers are leveraging the latest social and digital tools to shape a customer-centric culture, deliver compelling customer experiences and create campaigns to drive growth and behavioural change.
Opening this track is Jack Smith, Group Digital Director, New Look , who’ll talk about how the dots are being joined up between mobile, customer experience and business performance. “10 years ago mobile was nowhere, now it’s everywhere – connecting consumers to products and driving ecommerce forward at a seemingly explosive rate. The past few years have seen a radical transformation in how consumers are discovering, connecting and engaging with the world,” he says. Jack Smith will share insight into how retailers and brands can use mobile to reach the connected, on the go consumer, how the latest technologies can be harnessed to deliver winning experiences and importantly what the impact is to the bottom line.
As Airbnb changed the travel sector so Grabble is changing fashion – and all through mobile. Customers demand an increasingly fast, slick and user-friendly online and mobile experience and this is forcing businesses to rethink strategies for packaging and showcasing offerings to delight and engage the consumer anytime, anyplace, anywhere. Joel Freeman, Co-founder of Grabble – a site that’s been called the tinder for fashionistas – will talk to delegates about what works and what doesn’t and where creativity fits in.
Moving on to engaging shoppers in a multichannel world, just look at how children become engrossed with Lego – be that the plastic building blocks, the online games or the videos and film. Leif Bode Nielsen, Head of Omni-Channel EMEA, Lego will share his experience at providing a fast and frictionless customer journey to boost conversion. As he comments: “Reaching audiences needs to become smarter to cut through the other clutter fighting for attention. Understanding the series of interactions customers have with brands are helping retailers to reap significant benefits.”
Of course, meeting the multichannel consumer’s increasing expectations for speed and convenience is forcing many retailers to rethink supply chains originally crafted for a single-channel world. As channel boundaries continue to blur, customers are demanding a combination of online ordering, in-store pick up and endless, seamless, always available inventory. A panel discussion – comprising speakers from Feelunique.com, Holland and Barratt and Woolovers – will discuss questions such as how are retailers responding to demands to achieve success and ROI in an increasingly competitive and rapidly evolving market?
If behaviour is measured in numbers then it’s companies like Amazon and eBay that have the huge amount of traffic to understand consumers’ needs and how they are changing. As we head towards 10 years since the launch of the iPhone, everyone knows that mobile has radically changed the way that customers shop and interact with products and services. Kit Glover, Director of EU Seller Experience, eBay, though can share insight as one of the pioneers of online shopping and explain how eBay and its sellers are using mobile to engage customers and grow their businesses in the UK and abroad.
GROWTH – INTERNATIONAL AND MARKETPLACES
The theme of growth and expansion through marketplaces is picked up in track 2, along with the opportunities for retailers to explore and deliver products and services across borders. This track will showcase strategies for overcoming significant challenges of planning, establishing and growing retail operations in multiple countries and in new territories.
Speakers will address how UK retailers are planning and executing successful growth opportunities in both established and emerging international markets, and how online marketplaces are providing new avenues for collaboration, growth and penetration of previously inaccessible markets – as well as how Brexit negotiations are effecting their business and future plans.
Sally Scott, Managing Director – UK, Vente- Privée , will open the track with a presentation on online marketplaces as a route to international growth. Ilan Benhaim, one of the French company’s Co-Founders, spoke at the InternetRetailing Conference a few years ago so it will be interesting to hear how the company has grown and expanded and to get a perspective on its UK business. Sally Scott will also share insight into what traditional retailers can learn from global marketplaces about customer buying preferences and product demand.
As everyone ponders the future of the EU and what Brexit means for them personally and as retailers, there are other markets showing signs of growth and opportunities. The InternetRetailing Conference interestingly brings together a panel of Latin American experts so that delegates can find out everything they need to cash in on ecommerce opportunities in Latin America post-Brexit. The panel will debate and answer questions such as what is the size of the market? How does ecommerce compare to the market for physical stores? What are the 3 main challenges brands/retailers need to overcome to manage ecommerce in Brazil and Latin America? Do you need to open a company or could you operate by full-service companies? Do you need to receive in Reais? Do you need local fulfilment or sell cross country? They will help delegates get to grips with the industry numbers and facts driving retail leadership in Latin America.
For many retailers though, China still represents an untapped opportunity. Sainsbury’s is the latest one to be reported on by InternetRetailing as it steps up online sales of its groceries in China following a successful trial on Alibaba. More than 100 Sainsbury’s own-brand products are now available to buy on Alibaba Tmall Global site in four categories – British breakfast, drinks, organic and baby. Further ranges will be added in the autumn.
Sainsbury’s Chief Financial Officer John Rogers comments: “Chinese online shoppers are increasingly demanding high quality international products. Many customers also want to replicate tastes and occasions that they have enjoyed or heard about through international travel.”
Leah Zhang, International Business Development, Alibaba will happily share her insight with delegates into how they can speed up market entry to Asia. She’ll be sharing how British businesses can approach the Chinese consumer market, the biggest opportunities and pitfalls and give practical, hands-on advice about the best way to achieve business objectives in the lucrative Chinese market.
TRANSFORM – MULTICHANNEL RETAIL AND FULFILLING PROMISES
The Transform track at IRC16 brings together speakers to debate how in-store and online can work closer together to create truly high-impact results, what changes retailers need to make to the bricks and fabrics of their organisation to excel in a multichannel world and importantly what is on the horizon?
This track will also dig into the detail of how retailers are fulfilling their multichannel promises. Successfully evaluating, implementing and integrating the best fulfilment options for each business is no mean feat, and in this track delegates will learn how peers are harnessing the latest available tools and practices to win over the hearts and minds of a consumer that is increasingly spoilt for choice.
Michael Durbridge, Director of Omnichannel, B&Q will be on hand to describe how, as a digital trailblazer, B&Q is harnessing the most recent digital technologies to harmonise communications and experience and generate more continuity between online and in-store.
Faye Roth, Head of Customer & Digital IT Delivery, River Island , will also present on how retailers can use the latest technologies to transform business from the inside out. She’ll share details of how this leading fashion retailer is harnessing the most recent digital technologies to synchronise physical and digital and generate ROI.
In a world where companies are being stretched to make more frequent and costly technological investments to keep pace with the latest changes being driven by advances in social media, consumer purchasing patterns and digital innovations, marketers are being challenged at the highest levels to demonstrate ROI for new marketing initiatives. The panel from Monsoon, Hotels.com and Marks & Spencer will debate how marketing can bridge the gap between the consumer and the boardroom.
Closing the track, Neil Dulake, Industry Head – Retail, Google will talk delegates through the market trends, technologies and biggest growth drivers in ecommerce today and tomorrow and how retail is being re-imagined.
The InternetRetailing Conference 2016 is being held at the Novotel, Hammersmith, London and follows directly on from sister event the eDelivery Conference, to be held the previous day, October 11, at the same venue. This event, for retail logistics professionals, focuses on ‘practicalities’ of everything behind the buy button, a theme explored through the twin tracks of availability and experience.
To learn more about the eDelivery and InternetRetailing Conferences or to book your place now, visit internetretailingconference.com.