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November 18, 2016
Posted by: Aoife Murphy Major Accounts Director, Vistatec

Digital Darwinism, platformification, shopper centric… these were just some of the buzz words floating about at eRetail Europe in Amsterdam recently, all part of e-Week; an international festival for online business, media, marketing and technology.

​​​​My interest in attending eRetail Europe stems from the increase in activity from retail customers which we are experiencing in our industry over the past few years. The shift of retailers to digital has practically eradicated the barriers to entering global markets. This means we are seeing a lot more inquiries about localization of e-commerce websites, be that for translation of product descriptions or multilingual functional testing of booking engines.

Today, the ecommerce market is said to be worth US$1.67 trillion, and interestingly some projections show that the Chinese market will be worth US$1 trillion by 2019, so website localization has to be a given in any global ecommerce strategy.

Through the great sessions from key retailers such as Lego, Ecco, Euroflorist, Shop Direct, Samsung and Lacoste, the following key trends emerged:

  • Customer Centric – Focus on Customer outcomes: Retail needs to adapt to the way the shopper organizes their life. Shoppers need to be kept engaged before, during and after making a purchase. Use data led marketing automation to personalize email campaigns, keep the booking process simple to avoid cart abandonment, create loyalty programs to build both the brand and returning customers.
  • Mobile First: Mobile is said to be the biggest game changer in 2016. 67% of users will more likely buy when the site is optimized for mobile devices. This means responsive websites, mobile apps and cross device consistency. Apps convert 3 times more product viewers than mobile web.
  • Marketplace domination 'platformification' of retail: More retailers are moving towards the Amazon model, shifting from their traditional products to a broader range of entertainment, games and music.
  • Omnichannel experience of your brand: To be successful, your brand strategy needs to connect both online and offline with shoppers. You need to make it easy to browse and buy across channels such as desktop, devices, instore, and through social and customer loyalty programs. As Stephen Mader, Global eCommerce LEGO Group  put it, you need to optimize, evangelize, embed everywhere.
  • Full localization is essential: Both language and regional payment methods need to be considered.
  • Innovation & agility: The days of setting a 12 month plan and sticking with it are gone. Now it is all about constantly monitoring and tweaking the strategy, reacting fast and being innovative.

Olle Moberg, eCommerce Manager for Samsung Electronics quoted from the keynote speech of the 2014 National Retail Forum in New York

'The next 5 years will bring more change to retail than the past 50 years combined'

Technological disruption paired with fast-changing customer habits are driving customer expectations into the stratosphere, where [PK1] barriers to entry into the retail fray have been effectively eradicated – with no end in sight – National Retail Forum – NY 01/2014 – keynote intro

Since then, we are already seeing signs of this disruption with IoT (Amazon Dash), marketing automation, and machine learning, with virtual reality and augmented reality soon to become the ecommerce manager's reality.

For me, some of the other great takeaways from eRetail Europe include:

  • Retail needs to adapt to the way in which the shopper organizes their life
  • China hold 22% of global ecommerce which is more than US/JA/India combined
  • There is still room for niche merchants as barriers to entry are eliminated
  • In the future, there will be no shelf  (Stephen Mader, Lego)
  • Tips for international booking engines: to avoid cart abandonment at booking stage, remove autocorrect features, display logos of payment methods, tell users straightaway if they have entered something incorrectly and don't let them progress until they have corrected it
  • Capturing actionable data is critical

The evolution of the retail space is indeed exciting. Speaking of evolution, what is Digital Darwinism? Some say it's the evolution of society and technology and its impact on behaviour, expectations and customs. That pretty much captures the insights from eRetail Europe.