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5 things we learned at Lengow Day 2017

By: Lengow

On 11 October, the annual Lengow Day was held at the Chateauform City George V in Paris. It brought together more than 400 retailers, media representatives, and big players from the online retail industry. Over 18 nationalities were represented, with more than 40 speakers taking the stage to enlighten participants in their fields of expertise.

Here are five things we learned.

Innovation is the key to staying relevant

An overall theme of the day was innovation, so needless to say, innovative ideas featured heavily, with brands and agencies wanting to show how innovation has helped them. The idea behind Lengow Day, according to Mickael Froger, CEO of Lengow, is to gather the top players of the online retailing ecosystem so they can work together to improve the industry as a whole.

In the first panel, James Roper, chairman and founder of IMRG, explained how customer data collection is only in its early stages, and yet many retailers are benefiting from it. PMP Conseil emphasised how even the biggest and most successful companies must remain innovative, citing Amazon’s movement from BtoC to BtoB and its prime service as examples. This was further reinforced by the French retailer Eram who credits their new initiatives such as #Choose and the creator lab, for helping the company remain at the top of their game for the last 90 years.

Michel Koch, ex-Time Inc UK, also touched on this with his talk about self-disruption, where he highlighted not only the importance of creating new things, but also of creating new things that make the old ones obsolete. That is, in his opinion, the way to succeed. Indeed in terms of disruption, a company like Fit Analytics whose whole concept of helping the consumer find their perfect size first time round, dramatically decreases need for return services.

Helen Chapman, founder of the British retailer Dotty Fish explained that innovation works on a smaller scale as well, and that without it, their company would not have had the same level of success; that without having the initiative to expand to international marketplaces, they would have been stuck in a rut.

Customers expect more than ever before

User experience was one of the first topics broached, and it soon became evident that all of the panelists agreed that customers are seeking more and more from their buying experiences. The rise of voice technology, and consumers expecting to buy items using only their voice, especially in countries like the UK, Germany and the US, was discussed in relation to how retailers can adjust their strategies to include voice.

Brands have also remarked that their customers now expect intervention in real time. If there is an issue, or if they want help, they want someone to guide them to the solution immediately. This led to conversation about chatbots and their evolution. However, Eva Linda Rohde from BEVH, admitted that although chatbots can be helpful, the customer must know they are interacting with AI and not a real person. Otherwise it leads to frustration on the customer’s part when the chatbot cannot answer all of their questions.

However, Stephan Grad, from A-Commerce, predicts that AI will vastly improve in coming years, which will in turn improve chatbots, and make them invaluable as a tool for online retailers. There are also new ways to attract customers, such as through entertainment and games. François Cousi from PMP Conseil emphasised the importance of keeping your customers interested in your site including through the exploitation of fun.

Furthermore, according to Ingenico Payments, another way to do this is through engagement. Engaging with your client base is a sure way to keep their interest piqued.

The issue of product pata was also tackled. Consumers now want more information than ever before making a purchase. For the Sean Mckee, Director of Ecommerce at Schuh, this is what the company focuses most on when it comes to user experience. For them, the better the product data, the more satisfied the customer.

This data also includes reviews by other customers, as, according to Olapic, 76% of customers view content posted by other consumers as more honest than advertising. Moreover, when it comes to product data, it is important to remember that different data is considered desirable in different countries. In China, for example, consumers expect more images than their Western counterparts. They want pictures of tags and packaging, as well as the product itself.

Last mile solutions

Logistics was another topic discussed: what customers expect, issues with cross border commerce, and last mile solutions. An issue for brands today is that customers expect fast and free shipping, the concept of paying for delivery is problematic for many shoppers.

However, Edouard Margin, Digital Director at Lavinia, highlighted that it is not always the fastest delivery time that customers are after, but rather the most accurate. They want to be certain that if they ask for delivery between 6 and 7, it will arrive between those two times, not any earlier, not any later. As for last mile solutions, Guido Ghedin from Cifnews, promoted the idea of drone delivery being able to reach where traditional delivery methods have not been able to.

Social and retail: an inseparable bond

During Olapic’s workshop, Jacadi pointed out that there isn’t really a choice for brands when it comes to social. They must accept it so the real question is how well do they use it. As James Roper said, although social media marketing can be somewhat flakey in the UK, it does work depending on how you use it.

Chinese online retail and social media are completely inseparable and that Chinese consumers are much bigger fans of live streaming than European consumers. Indeed most brands have live streaming strategies and the big players of Chinese online retail, Tmall, Alibaba, and JD, all have their own dedicated live streaming platforms.

Furthermore, customers expect to be able to do everything on one platform, that is: watch the live stream, see the product, and buy all without leaving a certain site or app. This is why these giants have included ‘See now, buy now’ capabilities to their platforms. Although live streaming is not as big in Europe, the concept of video is, with Stephan Grad claiming that releasing high quality video of products gives a significant advantage to brands. Furthermore, social media allows brands to create and curate a particular identity.

This brand identity can attract customers and keep them interested and coming back for more. It can make consumers want to participate in all things relating to a certain brand.            

Speaking of China, online retail is king there

Online retail’s share of the total retail in China is 23% compared to 16.9% in the UK. It is by far the biggest market in the world with $1,208.31 predicted to be spent online by the end of 2017. To put this in perspective, the US is the second largest market with $431.84 billion predicted, and the UK is the third, with $121.36 billion. This means that breaking into the Chinese market can have very positive effects for retailers.

Thibault Boiron from Altima explained that the reason behind this phenomenon is partially due to the fact that there is no real history of physical retail, so the nostalgic feeling of shopping in a real store does not exist, meaning that people are happy to wholeheartedly embrace online retail.

They also have the biggest logistics market in the world so this helps with widespread distribution. In fact, we were told that Jack Ma predicts China will handle a billion packages a day by 2025. On top of this, marketplace dominate there. For example, for any given brand, Tmall will receive 10x more orders than the brand’s own website. And when there are sale in China, the amount of revenue incurred is astronomical. As an example, Alibaba’s singles day raked in $17.8 billion in sales, more than the total yearly take in of online retail in Brazil.

 

Watch the panel Is the evolution of use experience revolutionising ecommerce?

 

By: Lengow

Photographs by William Jezequel

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