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Stuart O'Brien

Learn from the best at the Digital Customer Engagement Summit

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You can enjoy a host of seminar sessions from industry thought leaders at the Digital Customer Engagement Summit on 13th October at Hilton London Canary Wharf.

Virtual attendance options are available – all live events have social distancing measures in place to ensure your safety.

Seminars include:-

“The Autonomous Customer 2020: Consumer Trends Shaping The Future Of The Customer Experience”

This 10th anniversary edition of BT’s global research on customer attitudes shows shifts in channel preferences, what customers want from customer experiences, and whether they think technologies like AI help.

Presented by: Nicola Millard, Head of Customer Insight & Futures at BT

“Happiness Of Being You”

Listen to Danny’s unique and sometimes unconventional ways to fill your life full of positivity. Packed with emotion, this is a wellbeing talk without the fluff and gloss. It’s gritty and stirs something in you can’t ignore.

Presented by: Danny Bent, Happiness Guru at Little Red Shorts Limited

Don’t miss out on;

  • A personalised itinerary of relaxed meetings with top industry suppliers – No hard sell
  • Access to inspirational seminar sessions hosted by industry thought-leaders
  • Networking with like-minded professionals who share your challenges
  • Complimentary meals and refreshments throughout

Click here to secure your place

Please feel free to contact me on the details below if you have any questions.

MAGINUS WEBINAR: Direct to Consumer Ecommerce in a Post-Covid19 Landscape

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This is a time of uncertainty. We’re seeing a drastic shift in the retail landscape which is affecting businesses of all shapes and sizes. This is why a Direct-to-Consumer channelshould be considered as an insurance policy against an uncertain future for manufacturers, brands and distributors.

Join our webinar on July 15 to discuss why setting up an eCommerce presence will help you secure ALL your sales channels – and help you serve your customers better in a post-covid 19 landscape.

In just 1-hour you’ll learn:

▶ The benefits and challenges of Direct-to-Consumer (D2C) eCommerce

▶ What D2C looks like in practice: Lessons learned helping Tommee Tippee go Direct- to-Consumer

▶ 20 min deep-dive into Magento Commerce

July 15, 14:00-15:00

Register here: 👇👇

https://bit.ly/D2C_Webinar

NUAPAY WEBINAR: Open banking payments – A helping hand for business

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By Nuapay

A wallet full of cards is a thing of the past. Today, payments should be easier with customers paying with freedom from a single device, the mobile phone.

This is open banking – seamless payments online, over the phone, or in a shop.  Nuapay’s solution is so effortless it inspired fast and easy cashless donations to Children in Need simply by tapping a giant Pudsey Bear.  And all mobile payments deliver a seamless SCA compliant experience straight out of the box.

Enjoy convenience at the click of a button with Nuapay. Sign up to our webinar to learn more.

Forum Events debuts new virtual format for B2B networking

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Forum Events and Media Group, organiser of face-to-face meetings-based events like the eTailing Summit, is launching a series of new Virtual Forums.

For over 20 years Forum has been bringing together procurement decision-makers with suppliers for pre-arranged meetings and networking at its Forums and Summits. These events have generated £millions of new business agreements between buyers and suppliers over the years.

With live events unable to take place for the foreseeable future due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Forum has expanded its cutting-edge proprietary software to create a new interface with live video meetings. This has allowed the company to create a virtual Forum platform, taking the events experience virtual. It will allow procurement executives to source new solutions, and give suppliers the opportunity to discover new clients – and ultimately, keep industries talking.

“During this unprecedented time, we have chosen to redirect our focus from live events to virtual so that we can still deliver expectations to our supporting exhibitors and create a platform to meet with high calibre decision makers face-to-face,” explained Forum Events and Media Group MD Sarah Beall.

“We cannot wait to welcome attendees back to our live events from September and have implemented a COVID-safe risk assessment at all our venues, ensuring the two-meter rule throughout, introducing temperature check and reduced numbers, but still creating the same professional and informal atmosphere of buyers and suppliers.”

“We are prepared and ready to kickstart our Forums from this month across four industries via our virtual platform. And we will continue to serve industries’ supply and demand by holding hybrid live and virtual events that are COVID-safe throughout the coming months.”

The first four virtual meeting events from Forum Events and Media Group will be:-

  • Total Security Summit – June 29th
  • Security IT Summit – June 30th
  • eTailing Summit – July 6th
  • Digital Marketing Solutions Summit – July 16th

Forum Events and Media Group is working alongside other UK events industry to promote the #GetBritainMeeting initiative aimed at kickstarting the events sector in a safe and sustainable way. The events industry employs some 700,000 people across the UK and contributes over £70 billion to the UK economy every year.

For more information, visit www.forumevents.co.uk.

Do you specialise in Affiliate Marketing or Payments Processing? 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 July we’ll be focussing on Affiliate Marketing & Payments Processing 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 Affiliate Marketing or Payments Processing 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 c.ross@forumevents.co.uk.   Here’s our features list in full:  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 c.ross@forumevents.co.uk.

eTailing Summit: Grab the final two places!

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There are just two delegate places left at the eTailing Summit, which is taking place on Monday 6th July as a virtual event – bringing the industry’s leading buyers and suppliers together for business collaboration.

During such challenging and uncertain times, it is key to stay up-to-date with the all the latest industry news and source new solutions for every eventuality.

Your bespoke place is entirely free and includes benefits such as;

  • Flexibility – Your attendance is flexible, you can either attend for half a day or the full day.
  • Gaining industry insight – Enjoy a series of topical webinars led by industry thought leaders.
  • Prepare for every eventuality – We can build you a bespoke 1-2-1 itinerary of meetings with innovative and budget savings suppliers who match your requirements.
  • Save time – We will handle everything for you, saving you time and money by arranging all the meetings for you based on your requirements.

Click here to secure your free place

If you have any questions or would like more information then please do not hesitate to contact us.

Coronavirus requires increased speed and agility in the retail supply chain

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A major study from the University of Warwick has provided insights into how retailers have responded to COVID-19 crisis, highlighting a need for human intervention with existing processes unable to keep up with changes in the markets.

The research, conducted by the university in partnership with Blue Yonder, concludes that, going forward, future systems will need to be more robust and responsive, to increase speed and agility in the supply chain.

The pandemic means both online and physical retailers have experienced a combination of unprecedented demand for some particular products, whilst no demand for others. Many stores have been forced to close, or adapt their operations to accommodate social distancing. Where possible, there has been a shift to online shopping, but this is not always possible and presents its own operational challenges.

The study gathered insights from 105 different retailers from Europe, Asia and the Americas who offered a glimpse into their survival and navigation of the COVID-19 crisis. The study found that:

  • The majority (61%) of retailers used inventory to buffer against the disruption of COVID-19. Supply chain processes and systems were effective, but more than half (58%) of retailers said a high degree of manual intervention was required to respond to the fluctuation in demand and supply.
  • Workforce issues were dominant issues for retailers with 59% of warehouse and 48% store operatives being affected by quarantine or illness. This often resulted in the closure of online operations and the need to recruit temporary staff.
  • Retailers were polarised in their treatment of supplier payments, with 37% delaying payments and 30% making early payments.

The survey was administered on-line by Qualtrics in late April 2020. It was targeted at senior executives in retail supply chains, in Europe, Asia and the Americas. 105 responses were received with relatively equal distribution across the regions.

Jan Godsell, Professor of Operations and Supply Chain Strategy at WMG, University of Warwick, said: “Using inventory to buffer against the disruption of COVID-19 was the most common strategy deployed by retailers. This provides the greatest certainty of supply but comes at a cost. In contrast, only just over a quarter (29%) of retailers relied on suppliers with more agile manufacturing and distribution networks, which is a potentially more resource efficient and resilient response.

“With 75 to 80% of products seeing a demand fluctuation, retailers were slightly better at responding to decreases rather than increases in demand. Whilst retailers found that their supply chain processes and systems to be effective in responding to the demand fluctuations, many were still dependent on the human touch.

“From warehouse and store operatives being affected by quarantine or illness to an over-dependence on human intervention within supply chain planning, COVID-19 has highlighted the human vulnerabilities across retail supply chains.”

Wayne Snyder, Vice President Retail Strategy, EMEA at Blue Yonder, added: “Early indications in Asia show that customers have been most supportive of those retailers they deemed to have responded best to the crisis and we’d expect that pattern to follow across Europe and the US. A critical learning for retailers is the need to invest in creating supply chains with greater flexibility, visibility and automation. Here technologies such as artificial intelligence and machine learning will play a key role in helping retailers navigate future disruption, whilst still meeting customers’ expectations.”

 

Login to the virtual eTailing Summit this July

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The next eTailing Summit will be held as a virtual event on Monday 6th July, bringing the industry’s leading buyers and suppliers together for business and collaboration.

During such challenging and uncertain times, it is key to stay up-to-date with the all the latest industry news and source new solutions for every eventuality.

Your bespoke place is entirely free and includes benefits such as;

  • Flexibility – Your attendance is flexible, you can either attend for half a day or the full day.
  • Gaining industry insight – Enjoy a series of topical webinars led by industry thought leaders.
  • Prepare for every eventuality – We can build you a bespoke 1-2-1 itinerary of meetings with innovative and budget savings suppliers who match your requirements.
  • Save time – We will handle everything for you, saving you time and money by arranging all the meetings for you based on your requirements.

Click here to secure your free place

If you have any questions or would like more information then please do not hesitate to contact us.

How online shopping has developed during the coronavirus pandemic

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Once you think online shopping couldn’t get any more convenient during the Coronavirus pandemic, many major retailers have provided us with yet more ways to shop more efficiently — after all, 70 per cent of UK sales are placed on smartphones.

These additions could be understood partly as a way to combat the need to return goods once they’ve been received, and a few brands have resorted to using some savvy technology to combat the cost of reimbursing customers, as well as improving their shopping experience.   

By looking at recent research, it seems free shipping is more important to a customer than fast delivery. Because free delivery is a common option for many online retailers, this results in increased sales — and increased returns. Returns, of course, lessen any doubts you might have about potential clothes you’re interested in, ordering more to choose from in different colours and sizes.

However, for retailers, it can cost double the amount for something to be returned than it does for delivery. And if returns are balancing orders, there’s going to be a problem for retailers. 

This piece looks at different ways retailers are mitigating returns rates by helping you find the perfect garments. This is certainly important for retailers during the current Coronavirus pandemic. Social distancing is currently making returns harder for customers and retailers alike, therefore, it is important retailers can cater to customers during these unprecedented times.  

From being able to virtually try your shoes on at Nike, to using a picture on ASOS to determine where that dress you saw online is from, it has become even simpler to get the product we really want. 

Fit

Five months into 2020 and already one retailer in particular has innovated online shopping. Anyone who’s not a smaller size will empathise with the frustration that online shopping can bring. Whether you’re searching for suits or women’s dresses, almost all clothes are modelled on a textbook body type — toned and trim.   

This is perfect, of course, if you have this body shape. However, for those who are considerably taller or a larger size, it’s impossible to envision what it would look like on yourself. Material may bunch or gape in areas you don’t want, for instance. 

ASOS’ ‘See My Fit’ is a new feature which uses augmented reality to digitally map what a piece of clothing would look like on a variety of different body shapes, ranging from four to 18. Pioneering customers’ online experience, this addition is the first of its kind in Europe.  

ASOS has also been instrumental in integrating a feature called style match, where customers can essentially image search for clothing they’ve seen, for example, in real life or on social media, scraping ASOS’ stock for similar clothing they have available. This not only helps customers find products but allows them to find cheaper alternatives.  

DIY Makeup Testing

Renowned makeup retailer, Sephora have fused augmented reality in the beauty industry with Sephora Virtual Artist, which scans your face and lets you digitally apply numerous styles with different lipstick colours, eyeshadows, false eyelashes, and foundation colours to check what looks good on you. With it being difficult to gauge what colours can suit men and women’s skin tone, it’s particularly useful in reducing returns.   

Virtual Fitting Room 

An expected popular trend in ecommerce in the coming years is the ability to virtually try products on with artificial intelligence (AI). Nike is eradicating customer’s confusion around what size they should order certain types of shoes in — you might be a size nine at one retailer or a 9.5 at another, resulting in purchasing several sizes for the perfect fit. 

Well the need to do this is being removed. By standing in front of a wall and pointing your phone camera at your feet, the Nike app will scan your feet and use AI to determine what size and shape your feet are and the correct size in a specific shoe. The feature takes less than a minute of your time and has precision within two millimetres. 

Customised Shirts 

Charles Tyrwhitt Shirts is a men’s clothing brand that offer a range of choice of shirts and tuxedos on their online website to make sure they’re perfect for you. With the ability to modify website filters, you can select your style, fit, collar size and style, sleeve length, colour, pattern, weave, and fabric weight — you can purchase the shirt that meets your exact requirements. You can also customise your shirts by selecting the cuff type, adding pockets and monograms. 

The diverse selection makes it less likely you’ll return it when you’ve crafted it to meet your exact specifications. Many of us return clothes that come in one style or shape, perhaps the neck is too tight or the sleeves too short — so when you’re offered a variety of filters to craft the perfect shirt, you’re highly likely to keep it. 

Over in the States, the value of returns is forecasted to increase from $350 billion in 2017 to $550 billion in 2020. Hopefully more and more online retailers will introduce innovative features to make purchases so much easier. 

Sources 

https://www.theverge.com/2018/3/9/17092834/asos-style-match-visual-search 

https://elkfox.com/blogs/articles/how-to-reduce-your-return-rate 

https://www.theverge.com/2017/3/16/14946086/sephora-virtual-assistant-ios-app-update-ar-makeup 

https://www.ctshirts.com/uk/mens-shirts/ 

Coronavirus and the eCommerce evolution

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As the government starts lifting lockdown measures within the UK to enable people to go back to work and the economy to click back into gear, online retailers, brands and ecommerce businesses will continue to see a huge surge in demand.

So, what factors do businesses need to consider now in order to cope with the rise in ecommerce and home delivery? And how can they remain competitive within an increasingly crowded online marketplace? Jonathan Bellwood, VP at Descartes, explains…

An irreversible shift

The imposed lockdown restrictions initiated an irreversible shift towards ecommerce as high street stores shut and people had no choice but to turn to online ordering. Online retail was booming before the crisis, but the impact of Coronavirus has caused many to change their shopping habits – probably for good.

Online grocery shopping is expected to increase by 33% during 2020. The uptake may have started with Coronavirus, but one reason it will continue is that even once lockdown ends, people will still remain risk-averse and want to continue social distancing to remain as safe as possible. They will see going to stores as an unnecessary risk, especially when they could easily have the items they need delivered to their home.

In addition, with some businesses unable to survive the fallout of Coronavirus, once lockdown ends, the high street may no longer be bustling with stores and shoppers. The experience of the high street is no longer what it once was, and is certainly not what consumers are looking for anymore. Retail has become more transactional, with consumers only buying what they need rather than spending time browsing.

There’s also the added cost and inconvenience for consumers buying on the high street: travel, parking etc.. But with consumers becoming increasingly more cost-conscious – especially those that may be furloughed or made redundant – they will try to save money any way they can. And if they can purchase the same products online, at a lower cost and get them delivered cost effectively when and where they want – why wouldn’t they shop online?

Human and automation collaboration

So how can online retailers become more efficient to cope with the potential surges in demand? One crucial element will be boosting workforce numbers. The impact from Coronavirus has meant that huge numbers of staff from the travel, hospitality and retail industries have been left without employment and will be willing and needing to work once they are permitted. There will, therefore, be a large talent pool of potential recruits available to fill up warehouses to support ecommerce companies with peaks in demand.

Some large retailers, particularly in the groceries industry, rely on automation and robotics to meet demand. But the reality is that automation is programmed to produce a consistent output and has a threshold of how much it can push out; it’s not as simple as telling the machines to produce or pick more products, faster. Automation certainly has its place, but not for processes that need to scale on a regular basis.

For warehouses that have adopted a semi-automated process, the collaboration with human workers means that in times of peak demand, they can quickly employ more staff that can be trained up to accurately pick customer orders and send them out. Those businesses that have an optimised Warehouse Management System (WMS) can rapidly increase usage on the system and bring in employees to operate it – humans can upscale and downscale very quickly to adapt to changing demands and economic conditions. But you can’t just bring in more staff without a WMS in place.

Those without a WMS that are clinging on to paper pick lists, manual processes and other unscalable warehouse practices will not have benefitted from the surge in online orders so far because they weren’t in a position to cope. In the hyper competitive online retail ecosystem, failing to meet customer expectations with slow or inaccurate order fulfilment means losing a customer for life. But despite the volume of information an e-commerce WMS handles, both in set-up and use, implementation is far from complex. With rapid turnaround remote solutions, warehouse management software can be deployed without having to physically visit a site to get up and running. If warehouse facilities are available, a logistics platform can be rolled out in a matter of weeks, not months.

Death of the high street

The decline of the high street has been well publicised for many years, with footfall decreasing and retailers shutting down increasingly year on year. The Covid-19 crisis has now accelerated that decline, so with stores having no option but to close their doors and consumer habits changing for good, we could be witnessing the death of the high street sooner than we thought.

Consumer preference and priorities have now dramatically shifted and companies like Amazon have set the standard for the ecommerce experience. Consumers don’t want or need to visit the high street for their shopping needs – people are time poor and will pay for the convenience of having what they need, delivered where and when they want it. Customer experience still reigns supreme, but the emphasis has changed to convenience.

This is why in the modern retail landscape, fulfilment delivery is now a key differentiator for ecommerce businesses – especially for those that rely on third party logistics providers. Loyalty is vital for all businesses and the impact of a poor delivery experience can significantly alter consumer perception of the brand, potentially causing them to shop elsewhere in the future. The use of technology to optimise delivery efficiency has never been more important.

Catalyst for change

One of the few positives to come out of the crisis is that it will be the undeniable catalyst for businesses to embrace adoption to the new vision of retail. Any businesses holding on to old ways of working and more traditional systems are unlikely to survive through the pandemic. We may still be living in an economic climate that is changing day by day, but there is a clear trajectory for retail that is well underway – businesses need to adapt now or risk failure.