We had the opportunity to be at the Etail Connect Event for Spring 2019, where we met with some of the most senior e-commerce executives from the top 250 retailers in the UK.
The conference opened with an address from the Chair: Alex Hamilton, Head of Innovation at Isobar. Alex talked about the formula for innovation, and what UK retailers can learn from silicon valley giants.
He set the theme for the day, which focused on three near-term priorities for online retailers:
- Brands should be discoverable
- Online presences need to be optimized
- Technology must be used to personalize the experience.
A Slice of Silicon Valley
Angela Cearns is the Chief E-Commerce Officer & GM at Pizza Hut International. She formerly worked with retail giant Amazon, and security firm Symantec. Angela gave an inspirational opening keynote in which she told an interesting story about the online pizza market.
Her story outlined three universal elements for innovation:
- Digital transformation should start with a single small and focused idea. Uber started out with a simple aim – make calling a taxi easier.
- Utilize separate teams to execute the new idea. Give them the space, time, money and focus to work out how to make money in the future.
- Find the right people, with the right attitude and skill set. Make sure you have the right mix of generalists and experts.
2020 Retail Vision
The morning session continued with an insightful panel discussion on inspiring the next generation of e-commerce, and a discussion of how retailers can succeed in 2020.
According to Matthew Henton, Head of E-Commerce from Moss Bros, one of their biggest challenges is how to “take that store experience and replicate that online”, ideally taking the best parts of each world and combining it into the perfect experience.
Isabelle Regis, Marketing and Digital Director UK and Ireland for L’Occitane, continued on the same theme. “A consumer doesn’t belong to a channel,” she said. “They shop wherever they want. Retailers should embrace the fact that the ecosystem needs to be fluid”.
Louisa Nicholls from UK retail giant John Lewis said that one lesson they have learnt when trying to achieve this is “that it all comes down to having quality data … your data behind the scenes needs to be robust and cleansed … and focus on less is more”.
Social Acquisition or Post-Purchase Retention?
Oh Polly taught us how to make the most out of paid social channels, especially Instagram which led to a 446% increase in website visits and significant growth in sales volumes and revenues.
While Narvar, told us that “cost per acquisition is exploding” and talked about how retailers can improve the post-purchase customer experience to drive loyalty, and increase retention.
Fireside Chat with Missguided
Missguided uses separate teams to tackle both CAC, and LTV sides of the formula, to keep customers coming back and also to acquire new customers.
With Exponea, they are able test and learn what works and what acquisition and retention methods complement each other most. Furthermore, with the data they are collecting on their customers, they are able to reduce the likelihood of fighting over the same customer.
Exponea enables them to do frequency analysis, to understand regularity of purchase for individual customers, so they can become more comfortable with not contacting everyone, but make their marketing more targeted. They also use the data to analyze indicators of intent, i.e intent to purchase or to churn, (i.e looking at last order, channel engagement, and number of visits) and reach out to those customers in specific ways.
Missguided was using a ‘one size fits all’ approach with a weekly email strategy until Nicola took over and used Exponea to take it in a different direction. Since then they have developed their capabilities in tracking behaviors across all their sites and designing campaigns around those behaviors, rather than simply using email as a megaphone for what they wanted to say.
We wrapped up the session with a few key takeaways:
- Don’t forget the basics but try to keep consistency of data between channels
- Use data to make messages relevant to the customer
- Make your message consistent for the customer, not the channel
Look after your people, and they will look after your customers
James McGhee, Head of Customer Experience, Footasylum talked about the value of people and culture in developing the customer experience. By focusing on the employee, and taking interest in them as a person, and understanding their drives and dreams, it helps them to be a better representative to your customers and provide a better customer experience.
Back to the Tech
BrandAlley, experts in flash fashion sales, run up to 15 separate sales per day. Rob Feldmann, CEO, talked about how they use AI, achieving 100% year-on-year growth. Artificial intelligence allowed the team to utilize techniques such as user profiling and creating lookalike audiences on Facebook for retargeting, and using personalized messaging to reduce customer acquisition cost by 50%. However, their overall success he attributed to combining “traditional retail skills of product, price and customer experience with intelligent digital marketing”.
Content is king
The final session was led by Dmitry Shishkin, Chief Content Officer of Culture Trip and former Head of Digital Transformation at BBC World Service. Focused on content creation and delivery, he said that the “Tell, sell, yell strategy doesn’t work for millenials as they will leave quickly”, citing that a strategy of “…data informed rather than data driven, gives people space to inspire the next generation of content creators”.
It was a great conference, with a wide variety of content from different companies. Overall though, the themes have been about knowing and understanding people, combining those people into teams based around skills and the ability to execute, and giving them the tools to do so.
Find out how Exponea Experience Cloud is used by leading retailers to make their teams effective.