Retail Insider Breakfast focused on digital challenges and opportunities for retailers

Aron Gelbard of Bloom & Wild, Nicolas Pickaerts of and Sean McKee of Schuh

Retail Insider held its latest Breakfast Event of 2018 with a panel of digital leaders discussing the challenges facing retail, competing with Amazon, and the need to give shoppers a richer more personalised experience.

Sean McKee, director of e-commerce & CX at Schuh, Aron Gelbard, founder of Bloom & Wild, and Nicolas Pickaerts, e-commerce director at shared their thoughts and insights with an audience gathered at The Delaunay in central London.

Senior executives from M&S, Belstaff, Dune Group, Pandora, Deckers and Office Shoes were among those who heard how the three retailers have placed digital at the heart of their businesses but that it is not simply used for improving efficiency but to also deepen the relationships with their customers.

Pickaerts says that even though 95% of sales are online (and its six stores have as much as 50% of their revenues derived from online via iPads) there is plenty of storytelling about the products before any transactions are generated.

“Our big advantage is our fresh content and a large percentage of sales are linked directly to our editorial. This is part of the magic of luxury goods [retailing] that is missing from many retailers,” he says, adding that the company also hosts dinners, runs events and sets up pop-ups to further enhance the experience for its customers.

Gelbard agrees that the experience at Amazon feels very “functional” and is therefore different to the aspirational gifting environment that Bloom & Wild seeks to deliver to its customers and helps differentiate its offer.

At Schuh McKee says the differentiated experience for shoppers in its stores is very much based around the recruitment of “good people who are service-oriented”. Mobile is proving more of a challenge for the three panellists’ businesses to provide a rich experience. At the moment the channel is very much about delivering a quick, seamless experience for customers.

For Gelbard, with the online-only model at Bloom & Wild, the biggest challenge is delivering on the company’s three key metrics: number of new customers, customer acquisition costs, and the quality of these customers.

The company uses its data to help focus on these areas and it is the utilisation of data that is absolutely crucial to each of the panellists’ businesses. They agree that the recent issues concerning Facebook and its data sharing has massively raised awareness among consumers about how their data is used and that there will be ramifications for all retailers.

Retail Insider would very much like to thank Sean McKee, Aron Gelbard, and Nicolas Pickaerts as well as the morning’s sponsor Content Square. Without its much appreciated support this event would not have been possible.

Glynn Davis, editor, Retail Insider