Stuart O'Brien - eTailing Summit | Forum Events Ltd
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Stuart O'Brien

Digital Customer Engagement Summit – Unlock the secrets of customer care

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Are you free on October 13th? Join 60 of your peers at the Digital Customer Engagement Summit!

This is a bespoke and highly-targeted one-day event created specifically for senior professionals like you. It is entirely FREE for you to attend.

Simply register your place here!

When: 13 October

Where: Hilton London Canary Wharf

Format: Corporate ‘speed-dating’. As our VIP guest, you will be provided with a bespoke and personalised itinerary of pre-arranged, 1-2-1 meetings with suppliers relevant to your requirements. A series of seminars will also be hosted throughout the day, and you can network with professionals who share your challenges.
Lunch and refreshments are included with your complimentary guest pass.

Who Attends: Senior customer service professionals, with job titles including:-

Head of Customer Care
Head of Digital
Customer Services Manager
Head of Customer & Digital Operations
Director of Customer Service
Head of Contact Automation
Digital Customer Service

Would you like to join us? Register today!

eTailing Summit – Everything you need to know

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The eTailing Summit is a bespoke and highly-targeted one-day event created specifically for senior ecommerce professionals like you.

It is entirely FREE for you to attend – register your place here.

When: 7th July

Where: Hilton London Canary Wharf

Format: You will be provided with a bespoke and personalised itinerary of pre-arranged, 1-2-1 meetings with suppliers relevant to your requirements.

A series of seminars will also be hosted throughout the day, and you can network with professionals who share your challenges.

Who Attends: Senior ecommerce professionals, including:-

eCommerce Director
Head of eCommerce
Digital Director
Head of Digital
Multi-Channel Director
Head of Online
eCommerce Manager
Marketing Director

The Summit is a small-scale event, far removed from the large and busy exhibitions and conferences within the sector.

Don’t miss out – Register today!

The role of skills and training in first-point-of-contact resolution

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Martin Ellingham, Product Director at Aptean Respond, looks at the role of skills and training in first point of contact complaint resolution…

As we know all too well, when it comes to complaints, first-point-of-contact resolution is the holy grail. Resolving complaints at the initial interaction without having to escalate further not only results in more satisfied customers, but takes less time. It also mitigates against the inevitable errors that occur when a complaint is passed on to a different team, ultimately costing the business much less in terms of both monetary value and brand damage. However, to reach this first-point-of-contact nirvana is both complex and extremely difficult to achieve, with a number of factors at play. With a view to achieving this, more and more businesses are turning to skills and training for help. But, what shape should this skills training take, and is training enough to make that all-important first-point-of-contact a daily reality rather than a nice-to-have?

Recruitment challenges

Before deciding what training is needed, it’s first necessary to look at what a first-point-of-contact agent looks like. It’s not uncommon for frontline complaint handling to be a first job and it’s very rare to find candidates who are seasoned professionals with vast experience in complaints. The role is often a stop-gap job, competing not only with other employment opportunities, many of which are less mentally challenging, but also up against education, gap-years and other more practical-skilled career routes.

For the industry, it’s not only hard to attract the right people to the role, but the sheer numbers required to fill positions is an ongoing challenge as well. Typical employees are in their late teens or early twenties, with limited life-experience, which, for many, can make it difficult to empathise with the issues that a customer might be raising, putting in place another hurdle to first contact resolution.

A good investment?

One aspect that does make the role appealing to some is the fact that it equips employees with transferable skills, which, although of benefit to the employee, often makes for a more transient workforce, with customer service agents having one of the highest turnover rates in industry. So, although there is a huge tranche of employees in need of specific training to equip them with the skills and knowledge to strive for first-point-of-contact resolution, some businesses see this training as a wasted investment, simply furnishing their workforce with skills that they’ll use to gain employment elsewhere. In reality, however, rather than questioning why they should invest in someone if they’re only going to up and leave the organisation, businesses really should consider what will happen if they don’t invest and that person stays.

In an ideal world, businesses would hire the best and train them well with a view to nurturing them as long-term employees, but this isn’t a realistic prospect. While it’s nigh-on impossible to train every employee in every skill, particularly considering that the nature of the work is continually shifting, with no two customers or customer issues the same identical, there are definitely steps that employers can undertake to build up a solid set of skills and knowledge across its entire front-line workforce. By addressing employee retention levels and morale, empowering employees to make sound, timely decisions, this will have a positive knock-on effect on the customer service they deliver.

Tools and skills

So, how can this be achieved? Well, a combination of tools and processes can provide the skills and knowledge required for first-point-of-contact resolution but it’s vital that it’s an ongoing, evolving process. The majority of businesses have training programmes but a one-off session is rarely sufficient, and there’s a real need to ‘on-board’ people with real world experience, pursuing a risk-based approach to how often work is quality controlled. For example, new starters typically have 100% of their work reviewed. But when does this end? With the right tools in place, it’s possible to ensure that as work improves or quality rises, the QA process begins to step away, with managers winding down intervention and becoming less intrusive as confidence in the employee and the employee’s confidence in their own ability increases. Similarly, it works in reverse too, with the right QA process highlighting where QA intervention needs to be tuned up to reinforce best practice and optimise outcomes.

And, what about those employees who excel in the role and progress to a back-office role, ready to deal with those more complex complaints which end up being escalated? If first-point-of-contact resolution is the holy grail, moving experienced complaint handlers away from the front-line could be seen as a potentially damaging move but, if you don’t, you run the risk of losing valuable employees completely.  Rather than looking at these ‘back office experts’ as the next step for complaint escalation, they should be seen as an additional resource for front-line staff, on-hand to offer expert advice and guidance to enable that crucial first-point-of-contact resolution, making full use of this knowledgeable, highly trained resource.

Technology and training

However, this all depends on front-line staff being empowered to know when to ask for help, privy to a comprehensive, single view of the customer through an integrated case management platform to ask the right questions at the right time to facilitate a swift, effective resolution. The right combination of skills training and technology is the only way to achieve this, providing the knowledge and confidence to resolve complaints quickly and with the right outcome for that particular customer. Not only does this lead to increased customer satisfaction but it has a huge positive effect on morale too for the good of the business and the individual employee.

First-point-of-contact complaint resolution is a common challenge across the industry and it’s not unusual to find competitors working together to share best practice. Investing in technology certainly does help, providing access to the tools and information needed to support timely resolutions, but having the right skills in place to take full advantage of the available technology is paramount. As we see increasing digitisation across the industry, it’s more important than ever for businesses to maximise the human element that will potentially soon become the one key competitive differentiator. The crux of the issue is how people and technology work together, with businesses needing to leverage technology with well-trained, motivated employees to avoid costly, time-consuming and risky complaint escalations.

U-Freight talks ups eCommerce logistics opportunities

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The ‘exponential growth’ of eCommerce and the increased role of consumers in individual transactions pose several challenges to governments and businesses alike, whether in terms of trade facilitation, safety/security or the collection of duties and taxes – but the opportunities are myriad.

That’s the view of Simon Wong, CEO of the U-Freight Group, who said his company is ready to meet the ever-increasing challenges of providing logistics services to this rapidly expanding sector of global trade that is eCommerce – one that is likely to exceed €500 billion by 2024.

Wong said: “Transport intelligence, a major provider of market research solutions to the global logistics industry, says e-commerce is quite a puzzle for logistics service providers.

“At U-Freight, in our development of e-commerce logistics solutions, we are continually trying to address the key issues stemming from increasing volumes of business-to-business (B2B) and business-to-consumer (B2C) e-commerce shipments and the time sensitivity thereof.

He said examples of those efforts include investment in several of the company’s warehouse facilities to enable them to act as e-commerce fulfilment centres.

“We are a logistics partner of choice for the growing number of online channels and platforms which entrepreneurs are using to sell their own designs and products, including  global eCommerce shipping platforms such as Easyship, and are heavily involved in the Fulfilment by Amazon programme in several countries.

“In 2019, we launched e+Solutions, a new product to assist small businesses with their e-commerce logistics needs. We have also been qualified by China Customs and CIQ (China Inspection and Quarantine) as a licensed Cross-border E-Commerce Enterprise and as a Cross-Border E-Commerce Logistics Service Provider. All of these initiatives are helping us boost efficiency and capture more value, in order to capitalise on the opportunities that e-commerce is presenting.”

Conscious Choices: Why Recommerce in Luxury Fashion is Here to Stay

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By Philip Hall, Managing Director of Europe, CommerceHub

The rise of clothing recommerce (“resale commerce”— the process of selling previously-owned clothing items) speaks to what today’s consumers want: the ability to break free of fashion’s traditional seasonal cycle and access products from high-quality brands at lower prices.

Luxury retailers and marketplaces have been making serious moves to cater to consumers in search of affordable luxury items. The collaborations Selfridges launched last year, including the Depop popup which showcased a rotating selection of second-hand items on a moving rail display, complemented by talks hosted by Depop sellers gave their customers access to more selection and hard-to-find items.

Selfridges also hosts Vestiaire Collective’s only permanent physical space in the Oxford Street store; where shoppers can pick up designer second-hand garments and clear some space in their wardrobe at their dedicated resale point. And, luxury marketplace Farfetch teamed up with Thrift+, an online service that sells donated designer and high street items on consumer’s behalf in exchange for credit and a charity donation of their choice.

With the second-hand luxury market reaching  7% of personal luxury market value and growing 12% per year, compared to 3% growth in the total luxury market, you can’t ignore the potential impact this opportunity opens up for retailers looking for ways to stay relevant and compete effectively.

BCG’s 2019 True – Luxury Global Consumer Insight Report surveyed 12,000 luxury consumers in 10 countries and found that out of true-luxury consumers, 34% sell second-hand products, while 26% buy second-hand. This is largely fuelled by digital platforms which make it easier than ever to access a large range of styles on online marketplaces, such as (Hardly Ever Wore It), Vide Dressing and Vestiaire Collective. They also offer authenticity guarantees with garments often inspected by experts before the buyer parts with their money.

An unstoppable, generational trend 

Younger shoppers are driving this trend, especially Gen Z. Many Gen Z members are motivated to make more conscious purchase decisions driven in large part by their desire for quality over quantity and their concerns over the environmental impacts of fast-fashion. In fact, 74% of 18-29-year-olds prefer to purchase from sustainable brands. One in three Gen Z consumers are expected to buy second-hand this year alone, proof this trend has staying power. Globally, 64% of Gen Z and Millennial luxury consumers said sustainability influenced their purchasing behaviour, compared with 46% baby boomers and just 37% of the silver generation. Looking at the broader second-hand market, the younger consumers are certainly leading the way, with Gen Z adopting it faster than any other age group. 

A good example of a brand that is taking sustainability responsibilities seriously is London-based Front Row. Inspired by the success of US Rent the Runway, which tackles a host of sustainability initiatives, including renting, reselling and donating,  Front Row has followed in their footsteps and customers are loving it. Consumers are inclined to use services like this for two reasons. Firstly, they’re trying to remain conscious of their impact on the environment; this is a way to reduce that effect while acquiring less new things. Secondly, they aspire to higher end, luxury goods yet require a more affordable price point.

How resale boosts a retailer’s customer experience

Now is the time for UK retailers to evaluate how to take advantage of this  growing opportunity and make recommerce another vehicle to support how they compete and grow in a fast-changing retail dynamic. Making positive additions to operations by incorporating a process to either buy back unwanted garments in return for store credit, rent out higher value items or launch an upcycling campaign is proven to resonate with younger consumers whose buying power cannot be ignored.

Furthermore, continuing the lifecycle of fashion items sparks conversations and provides an opportunity to bolster a retailer’s brand experience and generate positive PR. Being seen to make genuine moves to improve a retailer’s environmental impact will improve brand loyalty of consumers and puts pressure on the whole industry to clean up its act and follow suit.

Smarter Payments Summit: Confirm your play today!

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There’s a complimentary guest place reserved for you at the Smarter Payments Summit – Can you join 60 of your peers?

8 September – Hilton London Canary Wharf

This unique event is entirely FREE for you to attend – simply reserve your place here for the opportunity to:-

  • Source new innovative and budget-saving suppliers
  • Attend inspirational seminar sessions from industry thought-leaders
  • Network with like-minded peers
  • Complimentary lunch and refreshments

RSVP now to avoid disappointment!

eTailing Summit: Your route to eCommerce success

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Taking place on July 7th at the Hilton London Canary Wharf, the eTailing Summit allows senior ecommerce professionals to share forward-thinking ideas, meet new partners and discover new ways to underpin their strategies.

It’s entirely FREE for you to attend and your complimentary guest pass includes:

• A bespoke itinerary of pre-arranged meetings with product and service providers who match your requirements and upcoming projects
• Access to a series of seminars by industry thought-leaders
• Networking with like-minded peers
• Complimentary lunch and refreshments

How Do I Get Involved?

We have just 60 guest passes available, so register your free place today!

Do you specialise in Conversion Rate Optimisation or Fraud Management? We want to hear from you!

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Each month on eCommerce & Payments Briefing we’re shining the spotlight on different parts of the market – and in April we’ll be focussing on Conversion Rate Optimisation and Fraud Management Solutions. It’s all part of our ‘Recommended’ editorial feature, designed to help eCommerce management buyers find the best products and services available today. So, if you’re a supplier of Conversion Rate Optimisation and Fraud Management Solutions and would like to be included as part of this exciting new shop window, we’d love to hear from you – for more info, contact Craig Ross on 01992 666726 or email April – Conversion Rate Optimisation / Fraud Management Solutions May – A/B Testing Platforms / Mobile Payments Jun – Multi-Channel / mWallets Jul – Affiliate Marketing / Payments Processor Aug – Email Marketing / Payment Service Provider Sep – Google Shopping / Chargeback Systems Oct – Personalisation / Artificial Intelligence Nov – PPC / Account Issuing & Merchant Dec – SEO / Payment Solution Software For more information on any of the above, contact Craig Ross on 01992 666726 or email

UK’s top cashless locations reveal North-South divide

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Southend-on-Sea has knocked Bristol off of top spot for number one location for contactless payments in the UK in 2019.

That’s according to data from Paymentsense, which has analysed 305 million transactions across the whole of 2019 to reveal the nation’s spending habits, looking at the places which are set to become cashless the fastest.

Key findings include:

  • Twickenham was the second location with the most contactless transactions
  • Within the capital, the east of London tapped the most, with 75% of all transactions made on contactless
  • All of the top 10 contactless locations are in the South of the UK

The top 10 locations for contactless card payments across last year were:

1. Southend-on-Sea
2. Twickenham
3. Kingston-upon-Thames
4. Uxbridge
5. Jersey
6. Bristol
7. Cardiff
8. Leeds
9. Harrow
10. Enfield

Southend’s population and its touring visitors are well and truly cashless consumers, with a whopping 78% of all transactions being made through a contactless card. Given the location, which hosts an airport where many fly into to travel into London, as well as tourists that may visit the seaside, Paymentsense says it’s perhaps less surprising that Southend took the top spot for percentage of transactions made with contactless cards.

Yanis Zisis, Head of Digital at Paymentsense, said: “For non-UK visitors flying into Southend to visit London, they will want to avoid carrying around cash in different currencies, especially when it is so convenient to pay without exchange fees on a contactless card. Businesses operating in regions which have a high percentage of tourists or overseas visitors will understand that offering customers the opportunity to pay on a card, at pace will often make or break a sale, especially when competition is so high.”

The data shows that all of the top 10 locations using contactless are situated in the south of the country – Leeds was the only northern city to make it into the top 20. Cities such as Manchester, Liverpool and Sheffield all fall behind in the list.

Paymentsense speculates that perhaps culturally attitudes towards cash differ between the North and the South – however, the demand for card payments is not dwindling and it could widen the economic gap between the two regions. In fact, it was reported by Link that in the first six months of 2019 alone over 1,200 ATMs were shut down across the country.

Paymentsense’s data also shows an 8% increase in contactless payments from the previous year, jumping rapidly from 62% to 70%, suggesting that the UK is edging closer to a becoming a cashless society.

Digital Payment Solutions: 2020 buying trends revealed

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Card Payment Solutions, Mobile Payments and Payment Service Providers top the list of solutions the UK’s leading eCommerce and retail professionals are sourcing in 2020.

The findings have been revealed after the last Smarter Payments Summit and are based on delegate requirements at the recent 2019 event.

Delegates registering to attend the event were asked which areas they needed to invest in during 2020 and beyond.

A significant 65% are looking to invest in Card Payment Solutions, followed by Mobile Payments (51%) and Payment Service Providers (49%).

Just behind were Fraud Management Solutions (48%), Mobile Transactions (46%) and Payments Processing (also 46%).

% of delegates at the Smarter Payments Summit sourcing certain products & solutions (Top 10):

Card Payment Solutions 65.2%
Mobile Payments 50.7%
Payment Service Provider 49.3%
Fraud Management 47.8%
Mobile Transactions 46.4%
Payments Processor 46.4%
Payment Software Solutions 46.4%
Card Processors 43.5%
Epayment Solutions 37.7%
mWallets 36.2%

To find out more about the Smarter Payments Summit, visit