On April 3-4, retailers and suppliers to the e-commerce and omnichannel industry gathered at the NEC for the annual InternetRetailing Expo. During the two days, 300 exhibitors and 100 speakers shared their knowledge and exchanged on the exhibition floor and during the conference sessions.
Among the exhibitors was Lil Packaging, which presented its range of environmentally friendly packaging. The company’s vision is to be the world’s most ethical e-commerce packaging supplier as it tries to remove plastic from e-commerce packaging entirely – and it hopes more will follow.
Another pioneering exhibitor was OrderWise. The company is developing robots that will work in a warehouse and transport mobile racks to preparers. Think of short, rectangular robots that lift shelves from below rather than a gym C-3PO.
The company claims that the typical ROI for its robotic goods-to-person solution is 1 to 2 years. Hardware brand A Perry is slated to go live with 15 robots and 450 pods – as the shelving is called – in August.
Robots were also the subject of a presentation by Jason Perry, e-commerce strategy & deployment manager, food digital, Co-op.
The convenience retailer was talking about the company’s use of Starship Technologies robots for last mile deliveries. He explained to delegates how Co-op has made more than 15,000 deliveries to customers using the autonomous robots since a trial began in April 2018.
âWe’ve seen a 4.5x increase in weekly orders since launch,â said Perry âand it’s growing steadilyâ. Of the nine thousand households in the store’s delivery area, around 80% have downloaded the app and 40% of them have placed an order.
Co-op recently extended the trial to a second store and launched its own online grocery service that delivers products by e-bike to customers in London.
With 90% of its mobile orders collected in-store, construction retailer Screwfix needs to make sure it offers its busy business customers a good experience on mobile and at every point of contact.
Orders can be picked up within a minute of being placed, as stock is held in a warehouse behind each of its stores – or trade counters as the company calls them. Click and collect is an important part of the retailer’s business with 80% of all online orders collected. Last year online sales were worth Â£ 500million.
Sue Harries, chief digital officer at Screwfix, explained to delegates that location and stock level data is returned when a person searches for a product on Google.
For example, they can see that a store 1.1 miles from their home has 15 of this product in stock and click the link and go straight to the right place on the Screwfix site. They then receive an SMS when the order has been taken from the 11,000 references in the store, she explained.
The Screwfix app allows customers to keep an electronic version of their receipts in one place, which is important for business customers working on different jobs.
The app also allows push notifications so that when a customer walks near a store, they receive a message about all the items they have in their online cart, regardless of the channel used to place them there. .
The cart is converted to a QR which can be scanned at the checkout in store rather than having the customer or a salesperson looking for the items or order numbers.
She shared three approaches that worked for Screwfix:
- “Don’t use technology for technology – start with the customer problem you’re trying to solve.” In Screwfix’s case, the company wanted to give customers time – by making a prompt payment – and the certainty of knowing that the items they want to buy are in stock and can be reserved.
- âGive the customer control of their journey. One way to do this is to keep communications open so the customer knows what’s going on with their order and feels in control every step of the way.
- There are so many different ways to place an order. âIt’s a very complex environment we currently operate in, but our customers don’t really care about its complexity. All the customer will remember is how the experience makes them feel about the brand.
WORLD CLASS MERCHANDISING
Jonas Hessler, former Global Digital Head of Web and Ecommerce at Ikea, shared the stage with Apptus to explain to delegates how Ikea embraced AI-powered online merchandising to help customers find what they were looking for. in line.
In addition to increasing search conversion, the retailer also tested automated merchandising and found that it resulted in a 75% reduction in merchant workload since they previously spent 85% of their time working with merchants. product listing pages.
âWe’re not looking for cost reduction, we want to automate tasks so you can focus on value-added activities,â so the solution was sold to the merchandising team.
A 2-4% increase in sales was achieved by automating merchandising, he told delegates.
The introduction of personalized product recommendations as the next step in the rollout resulted in a 7% increase in sales “in some markets,” he added. And a better customer experience.
Hessler shared three things that led to his success, one related to business, one technology, and a personal professional life.
- Business: innovate more when you don’t need it, because during times of success you have both funding and time;
- Technology: Know what you want to achieve and find a supplier that offers a world class experience;
- Personal: It’s easy to work in a routine but it’s the opposite of innovation. He asked the audience to think about the last time they did something for the first time.
AI was discussed in more detail by Matthew Kelleher of RedEye, in a presentation on how AI and predictive analytics, in addition to a good data set, can increase customer lifetime value.
Working with building dealer Travis Perkins, the company was able to reduce customer churn and increase the number of VIP customers – those who frequently spend high spending – from 3.2% of customers in January 2018 to 5, 8% in August. Spending per customer also increased during this period.
Taking Hessler’s message to do something for the first time, if you missed this year’s InternetRetailing Expo and never been there before, put it in your planner for the first time in 2020. L The IR Towers team looks forward to seeing you there – and until October