In a busy and extremely interesting week I was privileged to be invited to the conference of the International Association of Departments Stores (IADS.org). Frederik Nieuwenhuys (Director at FredHopper.com) and I gave the opening keynote and were invited to stay for the remainder of the conference. A really stimulating and convivial two days. The event was hosted by De Bijenkorf at their Amsterdam flagship.
Earlier in the week I chaired a session at the SocialMediaInfluence conference (conference site), organised by my friend and occasional collaborator, Matthew Yeomans (now at RadarDDB). There was a real feeling of a common interest at the day, along with much twittering, discussion about twittering and some discussion /on/ twitter… 😉
Some great speakers and an interesting and engaged delegate list. As ever, the real value was in the 1:1 conversations over coffee. The take-away for me is that in these difficult times there are opportunities for brands whose focus blends quality and service. At the higher price-points value is more important than price to the more affluent customer. Empty brand promises are exposed ruthlessly online so the opportunity for strong multichannel sales can be damaged by timid or inept online activity.
I know from my recent speaking on Affiliates that the changing landscape as a result of the rise of cashback sites has created some controversy and concern, and equally from a retail perspective there’re questions as to the relative tactical versus strategic aspects of cashback. There’s no denying the responsive, even pavlovian, effects on sales that cashback promotion can achieve – but the question is about brand value, who has the relationship with the customer and whether there’s “loyalty” to anything or anyone other than getting cash back and therefore habitually cheaper prices.
To put perspectives we had:
Richard Yendall, Chairman, The Loyalty Association (speaking as a cashback affiliate, as well as for that association)
Helen Southgate, Head of Affiliates, DGM (looking from an agency/network perspective at issues and considerations)
Peter Wakim, Head of Business Development, Quidco (speaking for one of the most well-known and powerful of the cashback sites)
Matt Bailey, Head of Affiliates, iLevel (asking questions from a merchant’s perspective, but also sharing research showing that cashback vs ‘normal’ affiliates’ performances are not as generally accepted).
Beer afterwards ensured that the questions continued well after the close of formal proceedings.
The IAB’s venue is a handy, well-appointed and nicely-sized one for these 50-person events and I hope that they’ll be doing more of them in future.
Google UK have convenened an interesting and senior morning on etail and ecommerce. You can see the list of speakers at the website – quite a gathering.
I’m pleased to be moderating a session on “Scaling and Managing the $1bn Online Business”. I do this with some humility since the last ecommerce business I ran (while Group eCommerce Director at Littlewoods Shop Direct) was “only” £405million. The current £:$ rate is flattering of my efforts though – $800m sounds like a lot more – but failing a slump in the value of the dollar (!) I currently do not qualify for membership of the $1bn-club. Not yet, at least 😉
The panellist will include Bruce Fair (MD, Kelkoo), Matthew Hardcastle (MD, Shopping.com) and Peter Fitzgerald (Retail Industry Leader, Google UK).