Speaking at the Westfield “World Retail Study Tour”

Westfield (a client) organise a world retail study tour for Australian businesses to visit peers, examplars and trend-setters in the US and Europe.

On the London leg of the tour – following a period in the US – the delegates had visited key retail stores, niche retailers, characterful areas of London and for a day heard presentations from major retailing figures.

I was pleased to be able to open proceedings this morning with a presentation on ‘the UK online consumer’ and trends and issues in multichannel retail.

As it was a private presentation there are no slides available.

Speaking at BBDO University

Following my presentation to the Innovation in Retail Forum I was pleased to accept an invitation to speak to the BBDO U meeting, held just outside Paris.bbdou.png

The event brought the leadership from the AMV, BBDO, Proximity family together to discuss digital trends, issues and opportunities. The team did a great job to pull together some excellent speakers (some of whom I was lucky to hear) as well as some ‘externals’ (me and Google).

I developed some of my themes on the demanding digital customer and approaches to exploiting the ‘attention economy’. In a very engaged Q&A session afterwards, and over lunch, it was good to get so many well-informed, enthusiastic and challenging questions.

No slide deck from this event due to its confidential nature, but there was some real-time commentary from the twitterati in the group – hashtag is #bbdou

Royal Mail: Speaking

At InternetRetailing we’ve been working with the Royal Mail a good deal this year on a number of projects, research activity etc and so I was pleased to be able to speak at their Multichannel Retail Insight Day on 6 May 2009.

The event brought together the retail specialists within Royal Mail to discuss changes in the industry and I was able to cover some of the demands that the sophisticated UK internet shopper is placing upon retailers, along with some of the approaches that the UK’s leading multichannel specialists are taking to set themselves apart.

Thanks to the team at RM for their kind welcome. Sadly, no slides from this engagement since it was a confidential briefing, but we touched on many topics that I think we’ll be returning to in InternetRetailing after our October conference.

Keynote at FDIH in Copenhagen

img_0484I met Morten Kamper, CEO of the Danish eCommerce Federation (FDIH) at an ACSEL event in Paris earlier in the year, and he has also contributed a wonderful piece to Internet Retailing magazine (May 2009 issue). It was therefore a great pleasure to accept his kind invitation to give a keynote at their conference on the use of social media in retail.

The event was held at the IT University, a wonderful and modern venue in the heart of Copenhagen, to a sizeable and enthusiastic delegate group.

As usual I was humbled by the fact that everyone spoke English, but moreso this time that some of the speakers even took the time to send me fully-translated versions of their slide decks: courtesy as well as capability. Very much appreciated.

I spoke on the retail progress made on Facebook and the lessons to be drawn, as well as considering other social media trends and opportunities (is it possible these days to present without mentioning Twitter??).

Facebook in Retail – Presentation to the Danish eCommerce Federation (FDIH)

View more presentations from ikj.

After the event Morten kindly gave me a CD of “The Roots Of Scandinavia: Soul Jazzfunk And Boogie” (we’d been discussing musical fusion over lunch) and this is currently a staple on my playlists. Amazing, and I’m looking forward to hearing more about how FDIH came to publish this album.

I had a great, springtime afternoon in Copenhagen afterwards and I’ll publishing the photos from my wanderings on my blog.

Innovation in Retail Forum

Mary Queen of Shop
Mary Queen of Shops

I was pleased to be invited to speak for the Omnicom “Innovation in Retail Forum”, an even for the agency’s CEOs and senior managers, along with key clients. The event was organised by DAS Global in a rather exemplary fashion and held at the Wolff Olins offices in Kings Cross/Islington, overlooking Regents Canal.

The line-up was very impressive and a little intimidating.

Chris Sanderson, Strategy and Insight Director of the Future Laboratory opened proceedings with a clear and stimulating articulation of “prosumers” – today’s demanding and knowledgeable consumers.

Mary Portas, “Queen of Shops” (pictured) gave a really engaging and characterful articulation of the need for innovation, engagement and collaboration in retail. I’d obviously seen Mary on ‘telly’ and so had certain expectations of her presentation. These in no way prepared me for such an open, amusing and highly engaging 40 minutes. I was totally won over.

Dr Jonathan Reynolds of the Oxford Institute of Retail Management (at Said Business School) gave a fast-paced and and well-supported presentation on ‘location’ in retail and queried its importance in future.

I followed with a presentation on opportunities for ecommerce in the ‘network age’ (a development of my presentations on epiphenomenology, magic and the network/attention economy).

The event was fast-paced, intense and fun. It ran very smoothly and this was largely due to the intensive work by Danny and Alice (you know who you are!) in detailed advanced preparation with the speakers. Not only did we have several phone conversations to flesh out the content, tone and approach of each session, but great care was taken over the interaction of the presentations. The result of this advance work was that there was a good flow, negligible overlap and good thematic reinforcement.

I’ve taken a lead from this and will be emulating this approach for the October InternetRetailing 2009 conference!

Do stars shine brighter against a dark sky? [Editorial comment from November 2008’s Internet Retailing Magazine]

This article appeared in November 2008’s edition of Internet Retailing Magazine.

After the buzz and positive atmosphere at the InternetRetailing 2008 Conference, Ian Jindal considers the role of ecommerce in a hostile and uncertain period for retailers: can etail’s star shine undimmed?

There’s a stunned and bruised feeling in retail. Not so much as a result of the downturn/recession/depression (delete according to pessimism) but  at the effect of the unintended consequences.

The speed and extent of the seizure of short-term lending markets has caused significant trouble to businesses who depend upon flexible working capital: growing businesses, seasonal businesses, leveraged businesses with liquidity covenants and suppliers whose working capital needs to be with retailers are all suffering. The amplified impact of retail and manufacturing workers losing confidence, buying power or even jobs will be, for the retail sector, like hitting a wall.

In retail Boardrooms across the land, all eyes are now on eCommerce. While offline like-for-like performance is down across sectors, eCommerce is still growing or at least ‘holding up’. As drowning men cleave to passing logs, so do CEOs view the online channel as an opportunity to save the financial year. Many in eCommerce, myself included, remember the nuclear winter of 2001-3: the question is what lessons have we learned and do we have the strength to apply them?

The key lesson is that this is a time for brave people to be ruthless and focused. In a rising market there’s always a “mañana” in which to implement gentlemanly improvements in segmentation, stock control, processes, addressing margin… However, there is no “tomorrow”. I know that Christmas is busy, but we must all fear that January post-sale will be even tougher. Putting off decisive action until December 31st is folly.

While each business is different, in general we can concentrate upon pace, focus, agility and responsiveness – attributes that should be a fundamental part of ecommerce.

Pace is vital since we need to trade our sites daily, not weekly or monthly. Learn lessons quickly and implement immediately. This is no time for a ‘to do’ list – you need a ‘just done’ list!

Focus must be upon customer-facing activity – help them part with their cash. Simplicity is a function of this: in merchandising, marketing and projects.

Agility is needed to move quickly and with confidence: make the changes now, not next week!

Responsiveness should be to the customer or emergent opportunities. The origin of the word ‘retail’ is from the French word “retailler” or ‘re-tailor’ – creating something anew for each customer, focused on serving them. The web’s ability to segment, personalise, algorithmically optimise and merchandise should come to the fore. Now, today – not tomorrow.

These are simple requirements, but take backbone to implement. Wibbling, waffling and waiting should be reserved for those on the sidelines.

Even with this bold, brave approach we etailers are dependent upon our colleagues in logistics for service levels, buying and merchandising to have the right goods to sell and our stores and contact centres for cross-channel leverage. The temptation is to try and forge ahead online but now more than ever is the time to work closely with colleagues to burnish a consistent service to customers across all channels. While your colleagues see ecommerce as an opportunity to rescue trading performance you have an opening to cement cross-channel working… not to show that you’re separatist, selfish and narrowly focused!

eCommerce continues to perform well, and it’s said that stars shine more brightly against a dark sky. However, our aim cannot be simply to be valued in comparison with the decline of others. eCommerce professionals have an opportunity in the coming months to demonstrate a robust and agile commercialism and to lift the whole business by customer focus, modern inclusive working practices and delivering the multichannel leverage of which we speak so often.

In these dark times it takes bravery to be brilliant and simplicity to sparkle. eCommerce should be a constellation, not a lone star: this Christmas,  don’t twinkle alone.

RetailGreen – challenges and issues in green and sustainable ecommerce

“Retailgreen.eu – 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:

http://www.linkedin.com/e/gis/150191/365DA86DD491