Breakfast Briefing: Clearwater Corporate Finance

I was invited to speak at a breakfast briefing hosted by Clearwater Corporate Finance by Jackie Naghten on “What makes a successful online business”. The presentation was to a group of Clearwater’s clients and contacts in the private equity space – either investors, investment managers or entrepreneurs (pre- and post-funding). Given the short time and the knowledge of the audience I focused on what I see to be the fundamentals involved in appraising a business for investment or in running an online business with a ruthless focus on value and growth (or, in today’s challenging climate, value and surviving long enough to be able to realise that value!).

The presentation covered:

  • The retail context – continued growth in online, but no longer ‘free growth’ nor a ‘rising tide floating all boats’. We discussed changes in consumer buying patterns.
  • “There’s no middle in eCommerce” – average, “OK” and ‘sufficient’ businesses have no place online
  • Sustainable competitive positions: customer insight (if you know viscerally what your consumers want, you have a chance to survive where other companies would flounder); product (whether exclusive access or unique knowledge, presentation or pricing); and Operations (the best sausage machine). Unfortunately, there are now companies who excel in all areas, so the ‘no middle’ comment above is reinforced
  • We considered the origin of ‘retail’ – slicing and dicing, retailoring and fitting to the customer, and draw from this an origin founded in service and closeness to the customer
  • I emphasised that ecommerce lives as part of a multichannel world: even pure-play businesses have contact centres, logistics, sometimes print and increasingly consider shops…
  • Service is fundamental to customer retention and profitability. We considered at a high level service issues from contact centres through delivery and returns and how failure in these areas is costly – and unnecessary.

It was a great session and my thanks again to Jackie and Clearwater for the invitation.

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: