Chris Boaz
Chris Boaz 13 April 2018

IRX: What’s next for ecommerce?

Earlier this month, more than 5,000 attendees packed out Birmingham’s huge NEC to discuss, debate and share best practice on marketing, technology and multi-channel sales at Internet Retailing Expo (IRX). This is a space that is now moving faster than ever. So what were some of the key topics revealed at this year’s IRX?

If there is a bigger conference for ecommerce professionals this year, you would struggle to find it.

Stand and deliver

First of all, it is important to convey scale. IRX hosts more than 300 exhibitors. Everywhere you turned, booths and stands were flanked by staffers eager to share the next generation of marketing software and strategy.

And no-one markets themselves quite like a marketer marketing their marketing services. That’s why the #IRX18 hashtag lit up with photos of smiling faces - it was a joy to see enthusiasm on such scale.

UK is leading the way

The UK is a leader in ecommerce evolution. At IRX, Klarna showed Bloomberg and BI Intelligence data illustrating how 11% of UK retail sales now come from ecommerce. That is compared with just 11.8% in the US, 9.1% in Germany and 8.3% in France.

Time is of the essence

BrandAlleyUK chairman Bruce MacInnes’ presentation shared some stark data points about the extent of online shoppers’ expectations in 2018 - more than half of customers now expect next-day delivery (58%) and click-to-collect (55%) as standard check-out options.

We live in accelerated times. Online, shoppers get what they want at the click of a button. Retailers’ imperative is to reduce the gap between online and physical delivery to as little as possible.

Reducing friction is critical

How do you drive more orders? By removing barriers. According to findings of a research report commissioned by Klarna, and presented by the company’s sales director at IRX, 41% of millennials would spend more if there was an easier online returns process.

Thirty-one percent would spend more if there was no compulsory registration, according to the research, making it clear that reducing inertia can make a real difference to revenue.

Digital is now physical

When you walk into a store these days, it is noticeable how much sales staff rely on the same digital channels to which customers have at-home access.

The Rug Company’s digital director Sarah Stagg told a panel audience her company deploys iPads on shop floors, helping customers imagine their products in real - or simulated - settings. But the devices are also used to capture leads and even to attribute website sales back to a sales assistant.

Verification eliminates failure

At the event, I gave a presentation on “the real cost of failed deliveries” which outlined the findings of a recent survey commissioned by my company, PCA Predict (a GBG company).

The survey found that 1 in every 20 UK online order deliveries fail at their first attempt. The fault happens before parcels get on the truck - the fault of wrongly-entered addresses and ordering systems which don’t check.

Digital offers drive in-store footfall

One of the event sessions looked at how technology innovation is changing the retail space in the digital age, and emphasises the importance of embracing the omnichannel customer. With bricks and mortar stores in decline, retailers need to look to create new experiences which will help to strengthen brand relationships and to attract customers to in-store locations.

Hammerson plc are a great example of how retailers can incorporate digital into drive in-store footfall. The company developed a “Plus app”, which presents customers with exclusive offers. The app, which has 450k downloads so far, leverages data to make a difference to consumer behaviour. Because the offers are tailored to the customer, 1 in 3 had redeemed an offer from the app. Their statistics also show that over half (57%) of Plus app users visit the store more often than non-Plus app users.

It’s an exciting time for the retail industry and I’m looking forward to seeing how these developments will enhance consumer experience.

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