While the main event took place at Stratford, Her Majesty’s Government was hard at work at Lancaster House selling the UK to the world during The British Business Embassy’s Global Investment Conference – 17 days of conferences to encourage overseas investment.
Day 10 was the Global Business Summit for Retail, Food & Drink. Individual sessions were high quality but the subject matter so wide-ranging that even if you had the forensic skills of TV broadcaster and journalist and facilitator for the day, Michael Buerk, you’d find it hard to keep focus.
I spoke in the afternoon session devoted to omni-channel retail. It was an honour to be among such a top quality set of speakers, including Nick Robertson, founder of ASOS and Sebastian James, Group CEO at Dixons Retail plc. The UK leads the world in home-shopping and, via ASOS and others, is exporting this success to the world.
Perplexingly, the audience probably contained a few too many dairy farmers and artisanal cheese producers to make best use of the content. The milk lobby had turned out in force to lobby Kraft’s CEO who had anchored an earlier session alongside a Coca-Cola exec who answered every question while holding a can of Coke high in the air like an Olympic torch.
Politicians topped and tailed the day, referenced the obligatory announcements of new investment but didn’t appear to be in the sessions to listen to the content or take questions. Still, you can’t fail to be impressed by Vince Cable at kick-off, Caroline Spelman at lunchtime and David Cameron, accompanied cocktails of finest English champagne, once the sun had passed the yardarm.
Joking apart, Sebastian James’ presentation is this week’s must-watch video. Challenged hard by the pure-plays, James gave a cogent and credible explanation of the tangible consumer value generated by multichannel retailers. (The answer: £15 on a £500 TV, since you ask.) Dixons is better at selling the latest products and its suppliers are rewarding it for this. You can watch his speech here.
While everyone is very excited about the growth in online shopping and the speakers congratulated each other on Britain’s leadership in the area, only Michael Buerk picked up the key political consequence. Three million people are employed in our nation’s shops. What is going to happen to them? It was 4.30 by this point and the politicians weren’t in the room…
You can watch my presentation below or to watch the full set from the day from other speakers including ASOS, British Retail Consortium, Dixons Retail and PayPal, visit the UK Trade & Investment (UKTI) YouTube channel.
In the first of a series of interviews with leading retailers, we caught up with Will Dymott, head of e-commerce at Lyle & Scott, a men’s fashion brand with over 135 years of heritage and still at the forefront of fashion.
What was your first ever e-commerce/digital job?
Marketing manager at Boden quite a long time ago! Before then I worked in direct marketing.
Describe a typical day in the life of Will?
I don’t really have a typical day, because my job is so varied, I could be doing anything from negotiating delivery rates, talking to a customer or planning the marketing strategy. It’s what makes working for a smaller company so much fun.
What are you currently working on?
Other than budgets… Our German & Swedish websites due to launch soon.
What is your business philosophy?
Never ignore your gut. If you have a niggling feeling in the back of your mind, listen to it!
Who in the e-commerce/digital world do you most admire and why?
Johnnie Boden, for building a multi-million pound business while remaining a thoroughly decent guy.
What’s the best piece of advice anyone has ever given you?
Understand your weaknesses and trust your team.
What keeps you awake at night?
What are your aims and goals for the next 12 months?
As ever, global jumper domination
And just for fun… if you could choose to have lunch with anyone who would it be and why?
P. G. Wodehouse, because I’m sure it would be fun.
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Melt my wallet down into a belt for Barbie’s boyfriend? Not quite yet! While there may well be an app for my Tesco clubcard, I still need somewhere to keep my train tickets, receipts, vouchers, coupons, loyalty cards, driving license, paper clips. Oh yes, and my cash, debit and credit cards.
A complete replacement for my battered leather friend is still a long way off. I’d guess it’ll be at least five years before there’s a standard mechanism that can replace all my payment types, one that’s as easy to use as current credit cards (ideally easier) and accepted everywhere, from the largest department store to the tiniest market stall.
However, there’s something that’s happening a lot quicker and doesn’t involve me moving stuff from my wallet at all. My trusty PayPal account, that I use to buy obscure things from one man and his cat online retailers, is starting to channel hop.
While the PayPal explosion continues unabated online (18 per cent of all online transactions, 100+ million accounts), until recently it couldn’t be used in-store. That’s starting to change and there’s a few reasons why this makes sense: People feel ‘safe’ using PayPal; The ‘webification of the store’ continues unabated, with Click and Collect, Order in Store etc., so why not start taking the online payment methods into store too? Goods paid for online via PayPal can be returned through the store and refunded back onto the original PayPal account; And PayPal gives a single view of all receipts online, one less thing to store in my wallet!
Last month across the Aurora brands (Coast, Warehouse, Oasis), BT Expedite were the first POS provider to offer ‘PayPal in Store’ functionality. You can now download the ‘PayPal in Store’ app onto your iOS or Android phone and pay for your sparkly frock in-store without ever touching your wallet (or more likely your purse). And if you’re really lucky you needn’t go anywhere near the tills, as this innovative fashion retailer is starting to replace traditional tills with in-store iPads. For customers, it’s as easy as pushing the ‘Pay’ button in the app, which pops a barcode on the phone screen for the store staff to scan to take payment. Easy as that! No expensive NFC readers in-store. Well, actually the barcode readers to scan the phone aren’t that cheap. Note to retailers replacing in-store barcode scanners – make sure they can read from phone screens.
Once a certain percentage of high street stores are enabled (with ‘PayPal in Store’ replacing Facebook’s ‘Like me’ stickers in shop windows) it will start to become very useful. And this could happen sooner than you may think. BT Expedite has made this a standard functionality for retailers adopting new in-store systems. I’d hazard a guess other POS providers are lining up to do the same.
So a push from PayPal and POS providers is a given. A healthy debate between PayPal and the retailers around transaction charges versus value add should then complete the jigsaw. For now the ability to pay via smartphone is through a separate ‘PayPal in Store’ app. If PayPal move this across into their standard smartphone PayPal app then overnight 15 million PayPal smartphone users have the ability to join the channel hopping brigade.
I sit in my rocking chair out on my verandah of an evening imaging a future where traditional tills pumping out smoke at the front of stores have long gone, replaced by satchel-wearing, tablet-enabled store staff wafting up to me in changing rooms the length and breadth of the country offering me the latest and greatest slim fit trousers in any colour from wherever they are in the retail estate, delivered to my door by teatime. And payment for said slim fit trousers happening in the changing room, no tedious queuing with the masses for me.
I want it. I want it soon. And I don’t want to queue. Basic needs that have existed forever, taken for granted online. And now in a store near you.
Posted by Steve Thomas, CTO, BT Expedite
PCI DSS has joined the list of certainties in life for the retail IT community and there’s no doubt that it’s one of the least attractive projects at the moment.
Despite this, we recently held our 8th PCI roundtable. We run these for customers every three to six months, focussing on what’s going on in the payments and PCI world. I think their success has been due, not least, to the “rules” we put in place the first time we sat down together:
- your meeting
- your discussion points
- your input
- your views
- Chatham House Rule applies
Notes are taken at each meeting and circulated to the BTE PCI LinkedIn forum but they remain anonymous. As part of my wider role I also try to provide some food for thought at each roundtable, whether that’s updates to standards or where payments and PCI have hit the news.
The good news for me is that our retailers keep coming back; the benefit for them is that they get to talk to each other about what they’re doing and how they’re tackling the PCI DSS.
This time we were kindly hosted by one of our customers and it was another great event. It must be said that their hosting was first class and for that I sincerely thank them, indeed it took a great deal of pressure off my shoulders as “facilitator”.
The hottest topic remains point-to-point encryption (P2PE) and scope and to be honest I think it will still be hot until at least the middle of 2013, simply because it has taken so long to get off the ground that we will not be clear on how P2PE fits with the overall PCI DSS with any certainty until retailers (and Payment Service/Solution Providers and Service Providers) go through the process. “It’s like going back to PDQs (Process Data Quickly),” one retailer remarked, referring to the terminals provided by acquiring banks; “Yes, but a bit cheaper,” was the response.
Other topics included contactless, NFC and mobile payments; Visa merchant agent and the QIR program; the possible merge of PCI into the Data Protection Act in Europe and the PCI compliance timelines which loom in 2012/13.
Overall the event must have been a success, or we wouldn’t have agreed to a 9th roundtable in September! Contact me for more information or visit the BTE PCI LinkedIn forum for details.
We came out on top in two categories at this year’s prestigious Retail Week Technology Awards, scooping the prizes for EPoS Initiative of the Year and Multichannel Integration of the Year.
In what has become a must-attend event in the retail calendar, the Lancaster London was packed with retailers and suppliers. With some of the biggest names in retail amongst the finalists, we had everything crossed as the results were read out and were delighted to win two major categories:
1. EPOS initiative of the year category
Our collaboration with Aurora Fashions has seen us implement a mobile POS solution on in-store iPads. The technology was trialled at the flagship Oasis store in London, before being rolled out across more stores and other brands.
Liz Evans, managing director of Oasis, explains: “Using iPads is a fun and more practical way of shopping. People don’t have to queue and can buy anywhere on the shop floor. They can also look things up online and take pictures of themselves when trying on clothes. We are making shopping more fun, intuitive and innovative. In our first week of operation, iPad transactions accounted for 20 per cent of sales.”
2. Multichannel Integration Project of the Year
Late last year, the Aurora brands launched a new approach to stock management and order fulfilment in partnership with BT Expedite & Fresca (BT Expedite) and Retail Assist. Anywhere, Everywhere is a strategy in which all selling channels– both on and offline – are integrated such that order fulfilment across all channels can be realised from one stock pool through industry leading systems capability.
Retail Week editor Joanna Perry said on the night: ”The structural changes taking place in our industry at the moment are giving technology a new higher-profile. In the past few years I’ve seen IT go from being thought of as a necessary cost to an enabler of change and a creator of new business opportunities. Everyone in the room – retailers and suppliers – is playing their part in this transformation. Whether you are a winner tonight or not, you should be proud of what you are achieving. Now really is your time to shine.”