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The future of ecommerce under the spotlight

Matthew Robertson, Co-CEO, NetDespatch, looks back at The Delivery Conference (TDC Global), which took place earlier this month, to identify the key takeaways

In today’s always on, highly connected ecommerce world, consumer demands are driving unprecedented change. In fact, I would go as far as to say that change is now the new norm and what we should expect going forward.  

Likewise, consumers want choice – choice of delivery, choice of service and choice of return. 

These were some of the key themes that were explored and discussed at The Delivery Conference (TDC Global) on Tuesday 4th February 2020 at the Royal Lancaster Hotel in London.

Changing fundamentals

As an industry we understand that volatility in the market is here to stay both from a macroeconomic standpoint and also from a retail, logistics and supply chain perspective as well.  Brands, marketplaces and retailers are being challenged to really respond with their instore experience as concerns over what will become of the high street store and the role it will play in the future continue to dominate in 2020 and beyond.  

Without a doubt the fundamentals are changing, and brands and retailers are looking for new ideas and new concepts in order to improve the customer journey and overall experience.

TDC Global brought the community together to explore these market trends; to showcase and explore new innovations and technology; and to share strategy and discuss the rapid evolution needed within eCommerce to meet customers’ expectations of a more personalised and connected experience across all the delivery channels.

Sharpest minds

We heard from some inspirational speakers from across the eCommerce spectrum and listened to case studies from the industry’s most successful brands and retailers. The event attracted over 1300 attendees, 70% of which were from leading retailers and brands.  It provided a great opportunity to get all the thought leaders, innovators, and influencers under one roof and hear from some of the sharpest minds in eCommerce, as well as learn about the newest innovations in delivery.

TDC Global has become the first annual fixture of the year, falling just post the peak season where online retailers and marketplace sellers meet to review and reflect on what happened over the last Peak (Christmas) season, in order to start planning for the next.

In terms of key takeaways, here were my main highlights:

Some of the sessions looked at how Amazon is changing the shape of the retail industry as we know it. How this pureplay giant dominates in the retail industry and continues to diversify with its launch into grocery and fashion and how the pharmacy sector is ripe for digitising. We witnessed a lot of discussion around why Amazon may be the player to disrupt this space.

There was a huge amount of talk about the future of the retail store.  Many negative headlines dominated in 2019 but really, the store has a lot more to offer than just a physical presence for a brand. And if retailers think wisely about how they can transform their store estate, they might not only survive but positively thrive well into the future.

But when it is so easy to purchase goods at the click of your smartphone, it can seem near impossible for retailers to attempt to increase their store footfall. It was clear that the one ace that retailers have up their sleeve is their physical presence and there was quite a bit of talk at TDC about how you make that more experiential and increase the human touch. However, to this point, with cost cutting measures and more and more technology featuring in the store, customers are now finding it increasingly difficult to find someone to help them in the aisles or even at the checkout. Instead, this whole process has been automated but consumers still need assistance and humans in the store.  This created quite a bit of dialogue, especially around how much should you automate and what role do shop assistants assume.

Returning products

Likewise, digitally connected consumers, looking for lower prices, greater convenience and a seamless experience when buying, receiving and returning products, are forcing post and parcel companies to rethink traditional parcel delivery.

In recent Accenture research “Adding Value to Parcel Delivery” a number of trends impacting parcel delivery service, an industry that is projected to grow 9 percent annually to more than $343 billion globally by 2020, were discussed.  The conference provided a forum to explore how postal organisations around the world continue to face revenue challenges created by dramatically reduced mail volumes.  Here focusing on competitive parcel delivery products, services and supply chains will help close the revenue gap.

Without a doubt we live in very interesting times and it will be important to see how these trends continue to unfold in the year ahead, but TDC Global certainly gave me a good overview and reinforced some of my opinions about various developments in the market.  If you missed it this year, I would thoroughly recommend that you make a date in your diary to go in 2021.


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