E Tail 2018, London – (online + offline)*(AI/customer convenience) = Unified Commerce

E Tail 2018, London – (online + offline)*(AI/customer convenience) = Unified Commerce

Martin Oxley | IORMA Retail Futures Director
22nd June 2018

Keep calm, but above all don’t just carry on in the same way you have been has to be the message coming out of this year’s London E tail, held over the last few days in a shrouded Big Ben Brexit Westminster. I’m not going to talk about the latter but the former really does deserve some serious thought.

If we follow the route of some simple equations there’s got to be big change and change there’s got to be. (online-offline)/total customer pool * average spend capability = lots of empty shops. Never mind, I might have got the equation wrong so what was E tail 2018 all about? Three big themes:

  • AI and data
  • Personalize to engage
  • Unified Commerce

So, we’re not talking omni-channel anymore? It’s the 3rd theme that is arguably the most poignant. Unified Commerce = Customer Convenience squared. Simply put, online and offline coming together in harmony, synergy and numerically, to deliver successful retail growth. One customer, one platform and technologies which join the dots to create great shopping experiences. New? Not really. Is everyone doing it? So far very few, successfully.

Well, we went digital some years ago, so what’s all the buzz then? Some store networks are still not digital; others operate in offline and online silos; others set prices online and cannibalize the high street; some promote online hard and take returns through the store driving negative growth.

The successful players get customer service really right though and do it with great technology. Role model? John Lewis. Great at putting the customer at the front end of a great experience.

If you asked me to prioritize some technology touchpoints along the journey:

  • PWA – fast mobile first
  • Real time pricing
  • Bridge web to store
  • An engaging shelf edge offline and online
  • Scan and Go – off your mobile
  • Image recognition – product search and find
  • Voice pay – up to four times faster than established e checkouts

Getting back to basics, in other words joining all the dots, what’s the big technology priorities?

  • Sales uplift
  • Optimize costs
  • Squeeze margin out of the supply chain

Customer Convenience is King – e commerce is just one service channel and you generate profit out of a significantly slick supply chain.

Here’s to Unified Commerce – Unbundled





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