RetailGreen – challenges and issues in green and sustainable ecommerce

“ – challenges and issues in green and sustainable ecommerce”

I’ve been interested for a while in the tension between “retail” (encouraging customers to buy more) and sustainability or ‘green’ sentiments (encouraging people to buy less – “reduce, reuse and recycle” being the operating mantra).

There are many benefits and challenges for retailers in considering sustainability as a part of their strategy and this group on LinkedIn is a first step to exploring this topic.

Mired in conflicting claims, in questions of how far to trace and cost impacts and benefits, and struggling to reconcile customer expressed claims with their measured behaviour, we expect some lively debates!

I invite you to join the group and help shape the debate.

  1. Reduce, Reuse, Recycle – lessons for efficiency and saving in sustainable commerce

  2. The sustainable customer – market pressures on retailers to ‘go green’. Following the ‘green dollar’

  3. Profiles of companies and their green activities, tribulations or market positioning.

You can join the group directly from this link:

The European eCommerce Forum’s inaugural meeting

This first appeared as an article in Internet Retailing magazine’s July 2008 issue. A pdf of the magazine article is attached.

The inaugural meeting of the European eCommerce Forum (ECF) was held in Amsterdam in April – the culmination of four years of conversations with leading retailers. Ian Jindal and Joris Beckers, co-founders of the Forum, reflect upon the genesis of the ECF, the pressing issues in ecommerce and the next steps for the Forum as preparations start for the next meeting in London this October. Continue reading “The European eCommerce Forum’s inaugural meeting”

Media Futures Conference 2008

Nico Macdonald and the BBC have announced The Media Futures Conference, being…

“… a one day exploration of the dynamics and trends shaping the future of media. As well as an opportunity for lively debate, the conference will feature presentations showcasing innovative projects, showing smart thinking in practice and illustrating the scope of what is possible “

No small promise then 😉

The conference is the culmination of a year’s conversation with the BBC by Nico (of, and builds upon the regular series of Innovation Forums (fora?) and the Innovation Reading Circle (as mentioned here previously in my review of Andrew Keen’s book, Cult of the Amateur).

The website – Media Futures Conference 2008 – has information on the agenda and speakers (I’m Chairing a session on provocations).

The tickets have already sold out once so if you’re interested in attending I’d suggest you register promptly (Update: there’s also a “Waiting” list available via the ticketing page).

Speaking at the “Speakeasy”


Last Wednesday I was pleased to give the keynote at the 5th annual “Speakeasy” event, held at 195 Piccadilly, home of the BAFTAs.

It was an eclectic gathering of a couple of hundred people: merchants, affiliates, programme managers and entrepreneurs in a very open, engaged forum.

I spend a lot of time talking to and writing about retailers and the need to engage fully with the digital, demanding customer, and so it was interesting to have an opportunity to examine the role that affiliates play in connecting products and brands with customers’ wallets.

The blend of large-traffic sites, aggregators (like MyDeco or HousetoHome who put a very professional experience design onto the feeds they receive) and very, very niche affiliates (whether or perfectlyshapedworld) who put retailers to shame in their focus on customers) covered the gamut of retailing.

Given that we had people from the commercial and operational sides of affiliate marketing it was also an opportunity to examine the drivers for profitability, areas of collaboration and the developing needs that affiliates will have from merchants as they seek to remain relevant to customers in an evermore-demanding marketplace.

Following some good questions (both directly, over coffee and then on the subsequent panel discussions) I met some fascinating affiliates and niche businesses who I’m sure we’ll be seeing in upcoming issues of Internet Retailing.

My thanks to the team at for their welcome and hospitality. The event was an examplar of stakeholder communication and networking.

It’s also about the only time I’ll ever get to stand on the stage at the BAFTAs… 😉

Update: Ian Jindal’s slides from Speakesy, May 2008 – contents and images are all copyright, but you’re welcome to use with attribution.

Adobe, some recent speaking

I was invited by to speak at one of their ‘brownbag lunches’ and managed to do so on 29 February, 2008.

The format is a relaxed one: an external speaker, an ‘open mic’ in terms of topic (I spoke on rich internet applications, underlying data and the challenge of selling in a contracting market) and a group of people all clutching and munching their lunches and throwing in questions. It was a fun and interesting session and I’m grateful to Nick Corston,’s Sales and Marketing Director, for the invitation.

Last week I provided the keynote for the Adobe Scene 7 and Bazaarvoice ‘best practice seminar’ for retailers. Held at the wonderfully-located Adobe offices in Park Crescent, London, we were treated to good hospitality, excellent facilities and great company – a broad range of retailers and publishers. Chris Poad, Head of eCommerce for Otto UK spoke in his usual engaging style, and had some really thought-inducing questions about how to replicate the notion of “play” and “playfulness” within internet shopping. Justin Crandall, Commercial Director of Bazaarvoice gave a whistle-stop history of ratings and reviews and then proceeded to move quickly beyond the obvious into the future challenges at the heart of “customer to customer marketing”. I learned a good deal from these presentations – and left with a number of new questions to ponder.

Marty Cornelius and Ijaz Bhattee of Adobe Scene 7 then treated us to a tour of the capabilities of the imaging platform, made all the more memorable by Ijaz demonstrating live the ‘hackability’ of the Scene7 URLs (instructional parameters) and really showing how one could ‘drive’ the application. I always admire someone with the confidence to do a whole presentation ‘live’!’s Graduate Academy

This is a great idea. It’s become axiomatic that there’s a skills-shortage in ecommerce, but a less-well documented problem with the explosion in ecommerce is the lack of entry-level, junior skills.

Such has been the growth that experienced ecommerce people are now looking at senior management paygrades, but there’s not been the investment within companies to grow the skills of young, generalist people, or those from other disciplines, to become the ecommerce practicioners of next year.

This initiative answers two problems for businesses:

  1. accredited, dependable training – you’ll have confidence that the graduates have covered the bases
  2. there’s a critical mass for recruiting (much easier than a ‘spray and pray’ approach to attracting junior staff).

What will the graduates do?

“What’s included for free on our Graduate Academy:

  • 3 day residential training placement in July at Reading University
  • 15 days of distance and online training during August
  • A further 2 days residential training at the end of August at Reading University
  • Free access to for the period of training
  • Guaranteed interviews with leading companies”

We’ll take a look at the progress of the Academy in more detail in InternetRetailing, but in the meantime this is a very welcome initiative and sure to be oversubscribed.

Graduate Academy | Training |

iGoogle “UK Retail” tab, featuring Internet Retailing

Google has recently added a “UK Retail” resource to its iGoogle offering. This is more than a collection of retail-specific feeds from the existing Google database. Google has worked directly with key information providers to ensure that the feeds provided are relevant, correctly formatted, useful for retail ‘watchers’ and provide a good mass of information. From a publisher’s perspective the new zone offers improved branding (over and above a reader just adding the RSS feed to their own iGoogle account).

Follow the link above (click on the image) to get to a page that shows the widgets I’m running on my iGoogle page. Clearly, I’m promoting the Internet Retailing one (ahem), but there are some very useful other ones – the Comscore live “Top 15” table, and the Hitwise Top10s.

This is a useful ‘radar’ for retail and etail activities, I reckon, but I’d be very interested to hear your thoughts.

Internet Retailing Magazine: first issue distributed

The first issue of Internet Retailing Magazine has been distributed to the initial 5,000 subscribers. Initial feedback has been very positive indeed, with comments focusing upon its having addressed a market gap, the quality of the writing and the high production values. Thanks are due to our excellent Editor, Emma Herrod, and the team at Publisher St John Patricks (who also handle the ad sales).

If you missed the first issue and would like to get a copy please contact me, while for advertising and sponsorship opportunities, as well as the forward calendar, please contact St John Patrick.

Serco win contract to deliver Business Link service for London

The LDA have announced that Serco have been selected to run the capital’s small business support unit in a three year deal worth £60 of public funding.

Business Link for London Limited (BL4L), the not for profit company established to deliver the DTI’s Business Link service, tendered for the contract but was not successful.

BL4L in its time created the first regional Business Link Operator, bringing coherence the the capital’s business support and harnessed some £40m per annum in public support for business and enterprise development.

In 2004 the DTI undid the Business Link structures, leaving the central team as ‘strategic guidance’ and devolving accountability for the Operators to the Regional Development Agencies. The current strategy is to move away from direct delivery of business support, intervention and advice and towards a “brokerage” model, offering ‘information, diagnostics and brokerage’ – a sort of Citizen’s Advice Bureau for business, if you like.

This approach sees a reduction in the amount of public and EU money deployed (now c£20m per annum) but hopefully a leveraged effect which will benefit private sector business support providers.

It’s appropriate that a managed service specialist be selected for the contract and BL4L will deliver on the plan for 2006-7, completing its operations and handover.

BL4L has not as yet commented publicly on the LDA’s decision and this post does not represent BL4L’s or the Board’s view.