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The Retail Forum & eCommerce Directors' Forum 2016 - Post Event Review


Alexi Cartwright | 09/06/2016
Filed under: retail, ecommerce

On the 27th April Richmond Event’s welcomed over 320 delegates and suppliers to their annual Retail & eCommerce Directors’ Forum at Whittlebury Hall.
As we reflect on our most well attended forum yet, we wanted to share with you some of the highlights from the day.


Brian-McBride-2.jpg
Opening Keynote address

Brian-McBride-2-(1).jpgWe opened the day with a fantastic keynote from Brian McBride, Chairman of ASOS.com, wiggle.com and Non-executive Director of AO.com.
Brian provided a fantastic insight into developments in technology and how these have left consumers with more access to a range of affordable technology, shifting the way consumers can shop.

He made reference to Moore’s Law; an observation that the overall processing power of computers will double every two years. As an example Brian highlighted that it would have cost £62k for 0.5GB memory space 20 years ago that now costs £12 for a USB stick that holds 150 times that memory!

Making reference to Moore’s theory, McBride believes that retailers need to be less worried about technology and more concerned about how consumers are using it.
He touched on this again when he opened the floor to questions from the audience, with a key message being to use Social Media to connect with your audience and not to sell to them.

Delegates

Following the success of introducing the eCommerce stream to the forum last year, we were delighted to have grown the event further this year, making it our biggest event yet!

This was great not only from a networking perspective for delegates, but it also meant
that attending Suppliers had a real range of job titles and remits to choose from when selecting their preferred meetings.
 
We had 170 Senior level Retail professionals and eCommerce Directors’ in attendance at the forum, with over 75% of these delegates attending the event for the first time this year.

Here is what a few of these delegates had to say about their experience:
‘Thanks for a really great day and evening. I was not sure what to expect but it exceeded my expectation in terms of organisation and the quality of people that I met.’
-        Ian Whittingham, MD, Sigma Sport

‘It was a great opportunity to meet with various suppliers in one day and start those conversations and interest which normally for the volume of people seen might take several weeks / months to orchestrate – a really good idea’
-        Muriel Neighbour, Head of programme change, Hobbs

‘This was my first time at a Richmond Event and I really enjoyed it. The speakers were excellent, I had some productive supplier meetings, and met some very interesting peers from other retailers.’
       Paul McDermott, Head of eCommerce, Poundland

‘It was a good day and I got a lot out of it.’
-        Tim Jessop, Head of eCommerce Toys R Us



Conference
There were three main streams to this year’s conference programme ‘Clicks, Bricks and Retail’. We then ran a variety of sessions under these sub-headings, highlights from these sessions include:
How to benefit from Future Technology – Matt Truman
Matt-Truman.jpgTruestart are a business that helps up to 10-15 start-ups a year to find their feet and has invested in 22 companies to date, specialising in promoting and recognising businesses with potential and turning them into a success.
Using this background knowledge, Matt delivered a session exploring how to use specific models to run successful retail businesses.
He first touched on mainframes based on mobile identifying main areas to consider being:
•        Content, Community, Commerce
•        Customers view must be at the fore
•        Personalisation
•        Convenience
•        Innovative Business Models
He then explored how a retailer can make the best of technology in an omni-channel world:
•        Experiment – undertake frequent digital experiments every year
•        Incentives – actively recruit and retain digital talent
•        Decision making - does your board have a CIO, CDO etc?
•        Infrastructure – how can we enable seamless bolt-ons?
This was followed by case studies presented by three of the companies that Truestart hosted – Photosmart, The Blogger Programme and Presence Orb.
The Spaces and Places of Retail - Tim Denison, Ipsos
Tim used the session to not only explore current statistics and trends but to also look back at a time-line of how the high street and consumer spending has changed since the 1960’s and how it will continue to change moving forward until 2020. Tim-Denison.png
33% of total Retail sales in 2015 were actually made ‘out-of-town’, with only 40% of sales coming from town centre high streets and the remaining 27% being made up of other Retail spaces. This compared to 20 years ago highlights the shift into outlets & Retail parks as 20 years ago only 27% was out of town and 50% was the high-street.
Across the food sector, there are some interesting trends with Deloittes forecasting that by 2019, 34.9% of consumers will shop for food in a superstore (down from 42.2% last year) 10.5% will do so in a discount store (up from 6.2% last year) 8.3% online (up from 4.4% last year)
On a positive note, Tim mentioned that retail vacancies are slowly improving as more empty units are now becoming occupied.
A final observation from Tim was that “there is now just a 9% renewal rate of retail leases compared to 31% a decade ago” which speaks volumes in terms of the state of the high-street.
What’s in Store for Stores? – Richard Bonner, John Lewis
Richard-Bonner.jpgRichard focused his session on the seismic shifts that he has experienced not only within John Lewis, but the rest of the retail industry.
He noted that in 2006 39% of the population lived in Urban areas, this has increased and is forecast to be at 55% by 2030.
In response to these shifts, retailers need to remain relevant and need to be able to add value at every stage of the “customer value chain”:
He noted that due to the shift into online shopping, retailers need to be more brand-centric as opposed to store-centric as shopping continues outside of the store.
In order to adapt to the changing shopping culture Richard encouraged Retailers to use stores as a space for experimentation and inspiration, whilst investing in new store formats.
Retail State of the Nation – Neil Saunders, Columino
In his session, Neil took delegates through a journey of the Retail State of the nation, looking specifically at some key consumer trends. His observations included:
Exploration – Consumers are keen to explore and discover new things and experiences for themselves.
Leisure – experiences are more important to consumers than things
Discount Driven – Consumers want to seek out low prices for everyday items
Investment – they are also willing to make sacrifices to be able to purchase a luxury product
Prioritisation – consumers struggle to get everything they need, unlike the 1980’s “I can have it all” mentality and so need to prioritise. Millennials will be even more constrained.
Post Materialism – Again Millennials are driving this trend “owning things is unnecessary and wasteful” and so hiring, rather than buying, furniture for apartment is now common in NYC
Choice is Endless! - For example car buyers had a choice of c96 different cars in the 1970’s compared with over 1300 today and wine drinkers had a choice of only 37 different wines in the 1970’s compared with 12286 now! So consumers need and want a curated choices.
Innovation Zone – Powered by Truestart
For the first time this year we hosted an Innovation Zone which was an area where retailers could come and experience first hand some of the latest technologies in the retail arena. Companies/services being presented included: 
Presence Orb: Presence Orb enables brick and mortar retailers to analyse customer in store actions utilizing WiFi access points to produce actionable insight.
The Blogger Programme: Revolutionising Influencer Marketing through our industry leading tech platform that connects brands with the most relevant bloggers to maximise brand awareness across social media.
Photospire: Photospire enables retailers to create personalised video content that is fully tailored for each customer. Data driven, personalised video that plays within email and social marketing platforms.
Hoxton Analytics: Hoxton Analytics has a novel in-store technology that can count and profile people accurately and in real-time, based only on the shoes they wear.
Near St: NearSt helps people find and buy products in shops nearby, by making the world’s local inventory shoppable from your smartphone.
JT Global: Purple is an intelligent platform for physical spaces. Using social engagement, marketing tools and location analytics, brands get digital insights using data from real world spaces, such as WiFi data.
Mobaro Retail: launched only this year, is a cloud based solution that incorporates an app for store users and a dashboard for management and head office users.
SMG, SurveyMini: is a geo-location app that tracks customers as they visit shops and restaurants. 
Leisure Activities
Proving so popular last year, The Porsche activity was available to both Delegates and Porsche2.jpgSuppliers to attend. A lucky 60 (30 delegates, 30 suppliers) were taken to Silverstone racetrack to The Porsche Experience centre to test drive a variety of Porsche’s.
What an exhilarating way to unwind after a busy business day! 
Not forgetting those who would prefer to relax, we also offered delegates a chance to attend the Day Spa at Whittlebury Hall and receive a treatment of their choice.

For retail this was a Christmas with many changes


Kirsty Brown | 16/02/2015
Filed under: growth, retail, Christmas

The first change was positive one in that, for the first time since 2008, consumers entered the festive period with a slight growth in their disposable incomes and with a more confident outlook on the economy. This, coupled with lower fuel prices and deflation in the grocery sector, meant that many people had a little more to spend and were willing to spend it. While consumers did not go crazy, they spent more on gifts and showed a greater willingness to buy more premium items in food and in fashion. This trend saw retailers like Fortnum & Mason (like-for-like festive sales up 18.3%), Ted Baker (+22.8%) and House of Fraser (+8%) do well over Christmas.

The other big change, of course, was in when spending was made. The impact of Black Friday – which fell at the end of November – was massive. Although many retailers saw big sales spikes on Black Friday it is now clear that some of this came from sales brought forward from December and the weeks closer o Christmas. As a result, although December trade was positive it was not quite as strong as initially anticipated. This shift was evident in the BRC retail sales figures, which saw total sales in December rise by just 1% after a stronger increase of 2.2% in November. It was also borne out in the fact that John Lewis, like many other retailers, had its biggest grossing week around Black Friday when £179.1m was taken, eclipsing even the week before Christmas, which is, traditionally, the highest sales week of the year.

One of the consequences is that many retailers have weakened their margins and profitability by selling high volumes of stock at a discount.

While some retailers were celebrating sales spikes, the grocery sector went into Christmas on a flat note and didn’t change its tune. Growth in grocery was virtually non-existent and, as a result, it looks like the main players have suffered a further weakening of sales. On a like-for-like basis, Morrisons’ sales fell 3.1%, Sainsbury’s fell by 1.7% and Tesco’s by a slightly better than anticipated -0.3%. The good news from the sector is that outside of the middle part of the market, the discounters and higher end retailers like Waitrose, where like-for-like sales increased by 2.8% over Christmas, did well.

So, this Christmas delivered a mixed bag of fortunes for retail with winners and some big losers. We expect this pattern of polarised performance to be something that continues well into 2015.




Richmond Events' Business Panel Report - Competition


Kirsty Brown | 31/10/2014
Filed under: competition, M&A, panel, performance, research, business

The latest Richmond Events' business panel report on competition is now available. Please read on for headline findings and to download the full report.



Headline findings include:-

  • On average, our panel’s organisations have 19.3 competitors in the UK, a further 12 in Europe and 17 throughout the wider world.
  • Their most significant competition comes from close to home, with 77% of the panel saying it’s from within the UK. This is followed by the European Union and North / South America.
  • The top 3 areas of competition that organisations face are on price, bigger sales / marketing budgets and quality.
  • 82% of the panel agree that competition results in better products and services which in turn results in more choice for the consumer.
  • 84% of the panel say in some instances their R&D programme is based on observing what their competitors are doing.
  • Only 12% of the panel feel their organisations have been the victims of unfair competition. However they feel 14% of their competitors have been likewise - sometimes from themselves!
  • 68% of organisations face competition from internet only businesses. One third of the panel’s organisations have successfully bought a competitor, with a further 6% trying but failing. Only 6% have been bought themselves.
  • The top 2 reasons for an organisation increasing its market share over the past 5 years are taking sales from competitors and an increase in the size of the market.
You can download the full report here - http://revents.info/l/5sc.

For further information, please contact David Clark.

Richmond Events’ Business Panel Report – the Scottish referendum


Kirsty Brown | 27/08/2014
Filed under: EU, panel, referendum, research, Scotland, business

The latest Richmond Events's business panel report on the Scottish referendum is now available. Please read on for headline findings and to download the full report.



Headline findings include:-
  • The vast majority of the panel doesn’t see a yes vote as having any affect on their business. However, of those that do, 27% of them see a yes vote as having an adverse effect, whereas only 2% believe it will improve their business.
  • If there were to be a yes vote, a quarter of the panel say they would reduce operations in Scotland, whilst only 2% say they’d increase them.
  • Over two thirds of the panel’s organisations have employees in Scotland. Of these, the largest proportion don’t see a yes vote affecting their employment numbers, whilst a further 22% are currently undecided and will wait and see.
  • Currency - The majority of the panel feel the Chancellor will back up his threat and remove the pound as the Scottish currency, whilst only ¼ feel it will remain if Scotland becomes independent.
  • 38% agree with denying Scotland the pound if they vote yes, whilst a further 41% would deny it if they refused to assume an equitable share of national debt.
  • 66% of the panel feel an independent Scotland would make little or no difference in terms of re-negotiating our relationship with the EU.
  • Even if Britain fails to substantially re-negotiate the terms of its membership, the majority of the panel would choose to remain part of the EU - 59%, rather than to leave - 31%.
  • Finally, it seems that much of the above may be somewhat irrelevant. At the time of writing, Betfair has the odds of a no vote at 10/1 ON and it seems the panel agrees, with the vast majority feeling Scotland will vote to stay within the UK.
  • Whilst 13% are unsure and 13% don’t really care only 3% feel the yes campaign will be successful. Look away now, Mr Salmond.
You can download the full report here - http://revents.info/l/59g

For further information, please contact David Clark.

The Retail Forum | Post Event Newsletter


Phoebe Cherrill | 10/06/2014
Filed under: Retail

Bill Grimsey “Overcapacity is such a severe problem that it could, ultimately, result in the disappearance of one of the big 4 grocers”.

Bill Grimsey’s opening address challenged retailers to recognise that the end of the downturn does not signal the end of structural change in the sector; indeed, if anything the pace and severity of change is likely to accelerate over the next few years. The address threw out a number of challenges, not least among them, the issue of overcapacity in the sector. The only long term solution to this is less space brought about through the closure of underperforming stores. So severe is this problem that it could, ultimately, result in the disappearance of one of the big 4 grocers, said Grimsey.

Neil Saunders "Consumers today are more demanding and have higher expectations from retailers and products; this makes them difficult, and sometimes expensive, to serve.”


Bill’s sentiments were echoed in the presentation by the forum’s chairman, Neil Saunders, Managing Director of Conlumino,  which explored how the consumer would change in the post-downturn environment. It was noted that not all trends which have emerged during the downturn would disappear as the economy came back to life. Indeed, some trends have become entrenched and established – such as the polarisation of buying which sees some consumers trading up to more expensive goods while at the same time buying from discounters. Another key theme was that consumers today are more demanding and have higher expectations from retailers and products; this makes them difficult, and sometimes expensive, to serve. 

Joe McEwan “ensure that only people who believe in the brand and who fit well with the company ethos are hired”


Great customer experience doesn't just come from metrics; it also comes from passion and belief which was  something Joe McEwan, Head of Digital and Communities at Innocent had in spades. Joe told the story of how Innocent had been founded and how it has grown in a way that respects communities, fosters openness in communications and builds an engaged and active community around its products. One of Joe’s key messages for maintaining a unique culture, even as a business grows, is to ensure that only people who believe in the brand and who fit well with the company ethos are hired – even if this means leaving a vacancy open for a while.

Matt Watkinson “brands and products need to be clear about what they stand for and deliver on their promises”

Matt Watkinson, customer experience expert,  explored the theme of serving customers in his presentation and outlined ten principles behind a great customer experience. One of Matt’s contentions is that a good customer experience is about setting and then meeting or exceeding expectations, as such it is important for brands and products to be clear about what they stand for and to deliver on their promises. This, in large part, explains why cheaper and premium brands can both be highly regarded with consumers even though they are markedly different in terms of proposition. It also explains why many middle market brands, which fail to manage expectations, are failing in the current environment.

Dennis Reid “building a high performance team requires appropriate KPIs for measurement and accountability”

Ensuring that retailers understand and deliver for the customer arguably comes down to having an engaged workforce; this was something explored by Dennis Reid, Managing Director of Retail Performance Specilaists. In his presentation Dennis argued that building a high performance team required appropriate KPIs for measurement, having clear actions in place to move numbers in the right direction, ensuring the presence of a learning culture, and making all of this endure through accountability and ongoing coaching. Using examples from clients, Dennis showed how this approach could create positive change in metrics such as sales, conversions or average transaction values.




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