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

Majority of Brits ‘showrooming’ in store before buying online

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Bricks and mortar stores are losing out on over £18 billion in sales each year as consumers find products in store, before leaving and purchasing online.

That’s according to a RetailChoice study, which says nearly three-quarters (74%) of Brits admit to browsing a product in store before purchasing online, with High-Street stores have a fight on their hands to convert ‘showrooming’ consumers into  sales.

While one third (32%) of us are showrooming once a month, one in ten (12%) of us are doing so once a week. With the average consumer having spent £467 through showrooming in the last year and over half (53%) stating they enjoy browsing products instore, even with no intention to buy, there’s clearly lots to be gained by retailers who can encourage those potential buyers to make instore purchases.

Unsurprisingly, purchasing behaviours change between products as consumers feel the need to go instore for furniture (41%), scented products (40%) and jewellery (39%), whereas electronics (38%) and home appliances (32%) are usually bought online.

In order to best address and serve these inter-changing behaviours, RetailChoice says retailers need to understand how to maximise and utilise staff, instore experiences and initiatives to generate and maximise sales.

Despite the top ask from consumers to retail staff being for them not to be pushy (48%), Retail Choice’s research has revealed that, generally, consumers not only value retail staff but want more from them. Consumers value face to face interactions with store staff, with over half of Brits (57%) more likely to spend money in a store if staff are friendly and approachable.

However, shoppers would also like retail staff to have knowledge of the products available (42%) and a willingness to listen (28%).

Oliver Wren at RetailChoice said: “The Christmas period is arguably the most important time of the year for UK retailers, so it’s essential that stores are able to convert as many browsing customers into happy purchasers as possible. Despite everything we hear about the ‘death of the high street’, bricks and mortar stores have a winning card to play – their workforces – who are championed by British consumers.

What’s more, 51% of shoppers are more likely to spend instore if staff are passionate and knowledgeable. Making sure that staff are well trained and confident in talking to customers about the products available to purchase in store will help bricks and mortar stores to better meet the demands of shoppers who may well be inundated with the number of products now available instore and online.”

Andrew Goodacre, CEO of the British Independent Retailers Association, said: “Independent retailers are incredibly well placed to tackle the effects of showrooming. By offering a level of service that consumers can’t get anywhere else, shops can advise and support customers with their purchases, getting to know them by name and offering product suggestions most suited for them.

“Most independent retailers run their businesses because they have a passion for what they sell, they will have tried and tested the products themselves, so there is a level of trust you can expect when shopping with them. There is a misconception that bricks and mortar retailers are more expensive than online, however, they can be incredibly competitive and you have the added benefit of taking the product home there and then, without the added cost of delivery.”

One in four Brits (26%) argue that experiential offerings, such as coffee shops, events or try-before-you-buy opportunities, encourage us to shop instore. Equally over two fifths (47%) of shoppers are more likely to go in store if the window display is appealing.

Looking ahead to the upcoming Christmas period, recent RetailChoice research revealed that over half of Christmas-celebrating Brits (55%) say they will buy the majority of their Christmas gifts this year online. These tech-savvy shoppers argue that online shopping offers better convenience (58%), the option to have shopping delivered straight to their door (46%) and there being better deals to be found online (44%).

Despite this, e-commerce brands, such as Boohoo and Wayfair, have recently announced that they will launch high-street pop up shops during the festive season this year. These brands might not be far off the mark, as two-fifths of shoppers (40%) will hit the high street for most of their Christmas gifts, as 67% of in store shoppers want to see products before purchasing and 56% purchase instore so they have the product right away.

Men are leading the charge on weekly showrooming, with 17% practicing the trend at least once a week, compared to just 9% of women. Men also report spending more than women do, with the average male having showroomed to the value of £594.10 in the last year, compared to the £332.90 spent by women. This means that every pound spent by a woman equates to £1.78 spent by men.

Last year, Bloomberg reported that women drive 70-80% of all consumer purchasing, whether that’s women making more purchases or influencing someone else’s purchase. But why are women such powerful consumers?

Interestingly, men are less likely to be popping down to pop-up stores opened by typically online stores – 46% of men state they would visit on these stores, compared to 60% of women. While this may be due to 59% of women enjoy browsing products in store, even without having any intention to buy, compared to 48% of men, the top reason women cite for wanting to visit these stores are to check the quality of products before purchasing. Men, on the other hand, are on the hunt for bargains, with men most likely to visit these stores if the products were cheaper than online – potentially signposting why they’re spending more online after having spotted a product instore at a faster rate than women.

‘Competition is increasing’ in Google Shopping

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Nearly half of the ads on Google in the UK, Germany and France are placed via external providers, although doubts remain that this is enough in the wake of the 2.4 billion Euro fine by the EU on the platform after it was ordered to open up its Google Shopping service to outside competition.

That’s according to a survey by Searchmetrics, which found that approaching the end of 2019, only around half of shopping ads come from Google itself.

A year ago, Google’s market share stood at two thirds of shopping ads. Now, 48.9 percent of all the Product Listing Ads (PLAs) displayed on Google Shopping are placed via external providers. However, the majority of these externally sourced ads are from digital marketing agencies.

35.1 percent of all ads are currently from marketing agencies and only 13.8 percent come from genuine comparison-shopping services that can be considered real rivals to Google Shopping.

“The share of ads coming onto Google Shopping via external sources has grown substantially from approximately 30 percent in late 2018 to around half now. However, it’s not clear whether this is going to be enough to avoid further intervention from the EU’s competition regulator,” said Malte Landwehr, VP Product from Searchmetrics, which analysed ads placed on Google’s shopping platform in the UK, Germany and France during September and October 2019. 

Searchmetrics says the issue that is central to the matter is that the agencies, who mostly specialise in performance marketing, are viewed as offering comparison shopping services in name only: while they may run comparison shopping websites, they only list the products sold by merchants whose bids they manage on the Google Shopping auction system – which means they are otherwise largely irrelevant for genuine comparison shopping.

Searchmetrics’ data suggests that most of the top ten external providers of ads on Google shopping in each country analysed are digital marketing agencies.

In the UK, the top external provider of Google Shopping ads is Productcaster, a marketing agency and a Google  Comparison Shopping Shrive (CSS) premium partner (the program that Google has set up to encourage more competition on Google Shopping in the EU). Second is Shoptail, another agency and premium CSS partner. In third spot is Kelkoo, a traditional shopping comparison site.

In Germany, Adference and Smec, two marketing agencies, are in first and third place. Between them in second place is, a product and shopping comparison service owned by eBay.

In France, little has changed among the top sources of Google Shopping ads over the past year, as marketing agencies remain dominant. As in 2018, Productcaster is still the CSS partner with the largest share of the market, again followed by two other agencies, Feed Price and Keyade, who have swapped positions since 2018.

Landwehr added: “While changes made by Google have meant its own share of ads on Google Shopping has fallen from around two thirds a year ago to around a half at the end of 2019 in all the three markets we analysed, questions remain regarding the quality of the increased competition this has produced. 

“Traditional shopping comparison sites were the intended beneficiary when the EU demanded Google open up its shopping service to competitors – but they’re still in a minority in the shopping boxes. It remains to be seen which additional changes the EU will demand and what Google does to comply without giving away more market share than it wants to.”

OnBuy launches Boost to increase seller exposure

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Online marketplace OnBuy has launched a new service called Boost, which it says is designed to help sellers gain more exposure and improve the visibility, rank and placement of their listings.

Cas Paton, founder and managing director of the popular online marketplace, said: “Our Boost service will bring a wealth of benefits to our sellers. Boosted listings will be placed in prominent positions across OnBuy’s product and category pages and in search results, helping increase the visibility of listings so they sell and thus earn greater rank on OnBuy. What’s most exciting is that sellers keep the rank they’ve earned – even if they end Boost.”

The Boost fee is only applicable when a sale is made directly through a sponsored listing, with no additional costs for non-sponsored sales.

Paton added: “Boost enables sellers to achieve greater visibility beyond OnBuy as well. The entire Boost fee is used to market their products even harder – this is a significant benefit as listings will gain more visibility in paid marketing channels. For sellers looking to drive more sales and increase visibility (all at fixed costs), Boost is definitely worth using.”

OnBuy says initial data shows its sales are up 37.6% since the launch of Boost earlier this month, as it seeks to establish its position as a serious contender against the major names in the space.

One of OnBuy’s USPs is that it does not compete with sellers by selling its own stock – it connects buyers with thousands of professional business sellers directly.

Do you specialise in SEO? We want to hear from you!

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Each month on eCommerce & Payments Briefing we’re shining the spotlight on a different part of the market – and in December we’ll be focussing on SEO 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 SEO 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

Dec – SEO

Jan – UX

Feb – Customer Engagement Solutions

Mar – Mobile Optimisation

Apr – Conversion Rate Optimisation

May – A/B Testing Platforms

Jun – Multi-Channel

Jul – Affiliate Marketing

Aug – Email Marketing

Sep – Google Shopping

For more information on any of the above, contact Craig Ross on 01992 666726 or email

Your place at the eTailing Summit…

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There’s a free VIP place reserved for you at the eTailing Summit – Can you join 60 of your peers?

11 February 2020 – Hilton London Canary Wharf

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

  • Source new innovative and budget-saving suppliers
  • Learn from inspirational seminar sessions hosted by industry thought-leaders
  • Network with like-minded ecommerce professionals who share your challenges
  • Enjoy complimentary lunch and refreshments

RSVP now to avoid disappointment!

5 Minutes With… Cas Paton, OnBuy

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In the latest instalment of our eCommerce executive interview series, we sat down with OnBuy Managing Director Cas Paton to talk about his company, industry trends, career advice and Peaky Blinders…

Tell us about your company, products and services.

OnBuy is one of the fastest-growing marketplaces in the world. With our fair, transparent approach, we can offer a better deal to buyers and sellers. 

Sellers can sell through a marketplace that has their best interests at heart: we offer competitive fees, don’t compete against them, and support them in growing their business. Buyers can use a marketplace that offers a seamless shopping experience with over 17 million products, competitive prices, PayPal protection and more.

Already one of the world’s fastest-growing marketplaces, OnBuy has plans to expand worldwide and become the world’s first truly global marketplace. Watch this space!

What have been the biggest challenges the E-Commerce industry has faced over the past 12 months?

While the e-commerce industry is rapidly growing, the question of trustworthiness is still an issue online, and I think it will be for some time yet. People can be understandably wary of trusting online shops – areas like data protection and security (including site and payment security), fraudulent transactions, and fake/paid-for reviews can add to their concerns. Thankfully, there are ways in which retailers can tackle this – if they prioritise these areas, they can earn consumer trust.

And what have been the biggest opportunities?

For me, the cross-border opportunities identified have been the biggest. For online retailers, cross-border expansion is a seamless way to obtain global product visibility and as a marketplace planning to go global, we’re perfectly positioned to help online sellers make the transition without the challenges that usually accompany such expansion.

OnBuy’s UK marketplace model has proven successful, so we’re planning to expand OnBuy into 140 new countries. This is one of the biggest growth opportunities available to sellers at the moment – we’re going to launch into more countries than any other marketplace and become the world’s first truly global marketplace. We’ll handle everything for our sellers; we have the technology to help with translation and currency ready to go.

What is the biggest priority for E-commerce in 2020?

I can think of two: trade agreements to make duties simple for exporting and solving Brexit quickly so we know what we’re dealing with!

What are the main trends you are expecting to see in the market in 2020?

I expect we’ll see more cross-border expansion, more high value orders, and more subscription services to replace what was previously a single large purchase – especially in gaming. 

What technology is going to have the biggest impact on the market this year?

5G networks have the potential to make a huge impact. As 5G offers faster connectivity than wired networks, it could have a transformative effect on business by helping people buy, sell, pay and communicate faster.

In 2022 we’ll all be talking about…?

AI. In addition to streamlining internal processes like managing inventory, AI can help enhance the customer experience. An AI assistant or chatbot can mimic the personal interaction we’re used to in physical shops and having it fulfil all your customer service needs – like helping customers with purchases, recommending products, assisting with complaints – can save you valuable time and resources.

Which person in, or associated with, the industry would you most like to meet?

Richard Branson. As a driven entrepreneur myself, I’d love to meet him and hear any insights he could offer about his decades in the industry.

What’s the most surprising thing you’ve learnt about the E-commerce sector?

Out of the past 12 years in e-commerce, it was learning that Amazon isn’t actually perceived as good for small to medium businesses in the way that many once thought it was. In 2010-2012, Amazon was an opportunity for online retailers and continued to be for several years thereafter – but the feedback we receive now is that Amazon is a hurdle in the way of growth and an ever-growing competitor.

This growing discontentment helped pave the way for OnBuy to enter the market which I’m naturally thrilled about, but it was still surprising to hear that something with such strong positive potential has actually affected many sellers negatively.

You go to the bar at the E-Commerce Summit – what’s your tipple of choice?

A good white wine or a beer. 

What’s the most exciting thing about your job?

Driving something that I’m extremely passionate about. I love hunting for new ways to evolve OnBuy and working with my team to put them into action and take OnBuy to the next level. Plus, no two days are the same which keeps me on my toes!

And what’s the most challenging?

As the business evolves, new challenges are always being presented but I must say I love a challenge, so I welcome them. We’ve cleared the initial hurdles of setting up a marketplace – attracting sellers with no buyers and vice versa – and we’re now focused on the best ways to seamlessly roll OnBuy out worldwide. 

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?

Get off the hamster wheel, stop spinning, and look back at what you’re doing. It’s all too easy to get swept up in the day-to-day but taking time to step outside of the business and reflect is absolutely crucial.

Peaky Blinders or Stranger Things?

Peaky Blinders all the way! No question.

Facebook Pay rollout begins

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Social media giant Facebook has begun the rollout of Facebook Pay, which its says will provide people with a convenient, secure and consistent payment experience across Facebook, Messenger, Instagram and WhatsApp. 

While people already use payments across Facebook’s apps to shop, donate to causes and send money to each other, the company says Facebook Pay will make transactions easier while continuing to ensure payment information is secure and protected. 

With Facebook Pay users can:

  • Add preferred payment methods once then use Facebook Pay where available to make payments and purchases on apps, instead of having to re-enter payment information each time
  • Set up Facebook Pay app-by-app, or choose to set it up for use across apps (where available) — that means Facebook won’t automatically set up Facebook Pay across all apps the user is active on, unless they choose to do so
  • View payment history, manage payment methods and update settings in one place 
  • Get real-time customer support via live chat in the US (and in more places around the world in the future)
  • Clearly understand which payment services are part of Facebook

Facebook Pay has begun rolling out on Facebook and Messenger this week in the US for fundraisers, in-game purchases, event tickets, person-to-person payments on Messenger and purchases from select Pages and businesses on Facebook Marketplace.

The company says it plans to bring Facebook Pay to more people and places, including for use across Instagram and WhatsApp. 

Smarter Payments Summit 2020 – Secure your place!

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Following an ultra successful debut this year, the Smarter Payments Summit will return in 2020.

Registration is now open for you to book your complimentary guest pass.

Book your FREE place here.

The Summit allows senior payment transaction professionals to share forward-thinking ideas, meet new partners and discover new ways to underpin their strategies.

Date: 8th September 2020

Venue: Hilton London Canary Wharf

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
Secure your complimentary pass

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

Network with 60 eCommerce peers at the eTailing Summit

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There’s a place reserved for you and 59 fellow professionals at the upcoming eTailing Summit – claim it today!

It’s entirely free for you to attend, so here’s why you should join us:

  • You’ll have the opportunity to attend insightful seminars and interactive workshops.
  • You will be provided with a bespoke itinerary of face-to-face meetings with suppliers based on mutual agreement. No hard sell, and no time wasted.
  • Network with 60 other senior ecommerce professionals who share your challenges.
  • Gain new business connections.
  • Enjoy complimentary lunch and refreshments.

The Summit takes place on February 11th 2020 at the Hilton London Canary Wharf.

We have a limited number of places, so register today.

Shop Direct teams with University of Liverpool to find next-gen talent

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Shop Direct has become an employability partner of the University of Liverpool to develop a joint programme of activity across STEM and other business-related subjects such as marketing and finance.

This will include working with academics to embed real world business projects into course modules and offering internship opportunities and graduate roles to the University’s students.

Shop Direct will also support a series of events led by the University’s Careers and Employability team, at which the retailer’s leaders will talk to students about their career journeys to provide inspiration, support and advice on maximising employability.

Helen Miller, talent, culture and communications director at Shop Direct, said: “We’re proud to partner with the University of Liverpool to develop the next generation of talent. Gaining experience in the workplace and of real life business projects helps undergraduates to develop their employability skills and stand out when they enter the job market.

“We also want to show students that the North West is a hub for great tech and data careers, and specifically encourage more young women to apply for roles in these fields at businesses like Shop Direct.”

Emma Moore, director of careers and employability at the University of Liverpool, added: “We continually review the way we engage with employers to ensure that we remain relevant to the working world. Our growing partnership with Shop Direct, and the company’s refreshing approach to student and graduate recruitment, makes it possible for us to try innovative ways to expose students to industry connections throughout their university journey and ensure our graduates are prepared for work.

“It is fantastic to see so many of our students and graduates successfully securing roles within the business as a direct result of our collaboration.”