I’m pleased to be able to announce my small involvement in an interesting new venture to support the development of eCommerce and ‘internet retailing’.
eCommerce is so interesting because it’s the point where marketing and engineering collide – with some vigour – and the challenge to businesses old and new is to align the many traditional skills (marketing, commercial, IT, logistics, buying, contact centres, fulfilment, outsourcing, procurement…) and capabilities in a way that’s relevant to the new, demanding internet customer. While there are many resources for the eCommerce professional they tend to fall into two camps: the online marketing folk (with great resources at e-consultancy, for example, NMA, Revolution, etc) or IT (where software capabilities and services still drive much of the eCommerce agenda).
Mark Pigou, founder of RetailEvents (a trade, conference/exhibition company, specialising in retail, but also branching into other areas – eg Blogging4business) has recognised the opportunity to bring the many professionals together and has created a conference called Internet Retailer. Building from this Mark is also planning to launch a tightly-integrated print magazine and an online service.
Having met Mark and talked through the ideas, I’ve agreed that I’ll be the ‘launch editor’ of the online service, writing a combination of news, analysis, interviews and features at www.internetretailer.info. I’ll be working on this until the conference in September and subject to growth we’ll probably bring on dedicated editorial resource from there. We’ll see, but for the meantime I’m really excited to get "IR" up and running and to tap into the interest and enthusiasm we’ve already received in the pre-launch discussions.
If you have any information you wish to give us please feel free to email editor a-t internetretailer.info with general comments, questions or story ideas (or ‘scoops’ of course!). Please use press@ for announcements and other release information. Embargoes respected, Chatham House rules understood, confidentiality is my middle name so I’m looking forward to hearing from people – the inboxes are up and running!
The background and context are as follows:
CONTEXT – new retailing
The internet has offered more than simply another channel to retailers – it:
* challenges the very way we do business,
* extends our customers’ expectations of us, and
* opens new opportunities for growth.
Simultaneously, however, it exposes us to new competitors and the keywords of the new retailing are:
* integration – bring online, offline, stores, contact centres and logistics together as a logical whole, focused on the customer
* agility – the ability to initiate, develop and respond quickly to market opportunities, competitive threats and changes in customer expectations
* perpetual development – there’s never a "done" on the internet, and so the twin challenge is to launch as soon as possible with new developments, but then to continue to develop and improve the offering.
REQUIREMENTS – in the new business climate
In order to maximise the business opportunities the internet retailer needs to master the four mains streams of internet retail:
1) strategy – where should the business develop?
2) Customer focus – what do my customers expect? What will they pay for? How do I reach them, converting interest into sales? How do I work with customers to develop the offering and increase profit?
3) Product/service development – is my product "right" for the internet customer? Am I sourcing well at the best price? Am I presenting the product so that it can be found and bought, amidst the millions of products available online?
4) Operations and logistics – how can I migrate from my old industrial "silos" to an integrated offering? are technology improvements being driven through the whole supply chain? Is my infrastructure a competitive advantage, or a dinosaur inhibiting growth?
Internet Retailer will map developments in the main streams of internet retail, analysing news and events in the sector and profiling key companies, initiatives, suppliers, people and trends. Internet Retailer will be a source of ideas, competitive intelligence, briefing and analysis on the sector.
TARGET READERS – the internet’s commercial imperative
Internet retail is no longer an ‘add on’, experiment or reserved for "dot com" companies. Major high street retailers now boast revenues in hundred of millions a year, growth of 30% per annum or more and in some cases internet sales represent over 40% of total sales. No longer is ‘eCommerce’ a part-time or experimental activity in the Marketing Department – all areas of the business are engaged: from IT to procurement via Marketing and CRM, Finance, Buying and Merchandising. Call centres, financial services and distibution activities all need to be aware of the requirements, opportunities and risks in internet retailing.
Internet Retailer will offer a shared insight and help teams and individuals prosper in the realities of commerce in the 21st century.
Internet Retailer is written by experts in retail, technology, customer insight and logistics. While we are specialists we are writing for a general, knowledgeable business audience. Internet Retailer is the ‘watering hole’, the nexus where the many professions in a modern business can meet to develop internet retailing.