Retail Insider Drinks Event with Jonathan Wall, group e-commerce director of Shop Direct + Andrew Robb, COO of Farfetch


Retail Insider held its latest Evening Drinks Event in London with two leading players from the technology end of fashion retailing giving their insights on the industry and how it continues to change through ongoing innovation.

Andrew Robb, COO of Farfetch, and Jonathan Wall, group e-commerce director of Shop Direct, took part in a panel discussion with Glynn Davis, editor of Retail Insider, at the Wine Pantry tasting room in London’s Borough Market, in front of senior retailers from a variety of organisations.

Executives from Amazon, John Lewis, Graze, Heals, The White Company, Gap, and Karen Millen heard how one of the fundamental differentiators in the fashion sector – and for retail in general – is the creation and leveraging of data.

Robb highlighted how it enables retailers to operate with a single view of their inventory, which is absolutely essential to running a retail business today – especially where multiple channels are used and where home delivery is a feature.

Both speakers agreed that rich data sets are also playing a significant role in the ability of retailers to personalise their offers. Wall highlighted how Shop Direct is working through a programme of Artificial Intelligence initiatives that are delivering an increasingly high level of automated personalisation.

At Farfetch Robb detailed how the personalisation capability is being taken on a step by the company’s recent launch of its ‘Store of the Future’ modular solution that links the activity of customer’s in-store with their movements online. This therefore enables a rich level of knowledge to be built up and used to deliver a personalised, tailored level of service.

Both Robb and Wall  highlighted how the technology developments they are undertaking today rely on the expertise of their employees – many of whom now have PhDs – and that for many traditional retailers there is dearth of such individuals employed. To attract such a calibre of people is a challenge but it is vital to ensure an organisation has the capacity to compete in the future.

The event concluded with a tutored tasting of English wines by Julia Stafford, founder of the Wine Pantry, which were complemented with meats and cheeses – also sourced from English suppliers.

Retail Insider would like to thank Jonathan Wall and Andrew Robb for sharing their experiences and expertise and to Julia Stafford for expertly hosting the event. Much gratitude and appreciation also goes to the event’s supporters: PCMS Group, Bond Dickinson, Qubit and ORESA.

Qubit recently issued a downloadable research report Catalysts of Change.