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WITH PICTURES Record-breaking IRX 2014 welcomes more than 5,000 visitors

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More than 5,000 people, from retailers to suppliers and industry experts, flocked to Birmingham’s NEC this week for the Internet Retailing Expo 2014.

In all, attendance was 24% up on the same time last year.

Expert retailers from John Lewis, Mothercare, Waitrose, Shop Direct, French Connection, Argos and Homebase were amongst those who shared their expertise with visitors in six conference theatres over the course of the two-day show.

Speakers in the conferences included Walter Blackwood, director of logistics at Mothercare (pictured left), and Sarah Baillie, head of multichannel business development at House of Fraser, (pictured, below). Also speaking was Bertrand Bodson, digital director at Argos, keynote speaker in the Internet Retailing In Store conference. Bodson told delegates how Argos has developed its stores in the light of internet retailing. Features including Fast Track collection for online orders are now being piloted in six London stores; to date, he said, the record time for collection was 22 seconds. The company also has an innovation lab, opened in January above its Victoria Street, London store. “You see the guys going down all the time and checking how things work,” he said.

House of Fraser’s Sarah Baillie assessed the way that stores are starting to become a key part of the multichannel mix, used to extend product range and to provide a collection point. Whole House of Fraser outlets have been given over to digital shopping in Aberdeen and Liverpool, while its Edinburgh department store includes a Fifth Floor Online Store. “The winners will be those who make their stores work hardest,” she promised.

The theme of next-generation stores continued with Doug Glenwright, general manager for retail transformation at Tui Travel , who explained how different forms of digital media had been brought into the Thomson flagship next-generation store at Bluewater as the company looked to find new ways of inspiring shoppers. Screens in the store, he said, ranged from a large screen on the exterior wall, welcoming in shoppers, to smaller in-store iPads and self-service computers. But the most-used screen by far, he said, was the large interactive map, three times more used than other element. “Customer love maps,” said Glenwright. “What speaks more about travel?” Discussing the impact of the store, he said that in the last five months there had been only four holidays booked in-store using self-service computers alone. “Customers still want the one-on-one,” he said.

Meanwhile, in the Innovation Theatre, speakers included Alex Klose of IMI Mobile, who explained how retailers were integrating social and mobile to deliver customer service as well as loyalty programmes, and Marino Casucci, of Fact Finder, whose insights included the figure that 30% of stocked products are not found through in-site search.

Chris Haighton, head of retail logistics at the Shop Direct Group, who spoke in the Operations and Logistics conference at IRX, said: “IRX really covers the whole of the game so it’s nice to go and speak to people about personalisation, about web chat about internet marketing or emails, because that gives me a much broader understanding of the industry as a whole.”

Visitors also learned about the latest technology in the retail market from over 200 exhibitors across the ecommerce and multichannel eco-system and attended 13 best practice workshops given by leading suppliers.

Don Bush, vice president of marketing at online fraud prevention business Kount, which exhibited at the event and also held workshops, said: “Internet Retailing events always draw an impressive quality of visitor owing to the superiority of the speakers and content of the show. This is the third year we’ve exhibited at the IRX and we plan to sign up in 2015.”

Next year the show is set to be bigger still when IRX 2015 will see the launch of a brand new show, eDelivery Expo. eDelivery Expo will run alongside the expo to deliver a full educational programme with case studies from respected retailers in conferences and workshops.

Find out more about IRX 2015 and the eDelivery Expo visit and follow @etail to join the conversation.

For those who missed a presentation they’d like to have seen, presentations from IRX 2014 will appear online in due course. Keep reading the newsletter to find out when they’re available.

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