By Joanna Perry | Head of Marketing

Last week we welcomed over 70 retailers to the Cavendish Conference Centre in London , with speakers from House of Fraser, Usabilla, and Smart Focus; as well as a retail panel including Selfridges, Baker Ross, STA Travel, and Jaeger. 

The night began with a sneak peek at Practicology's new mobile usability report, produceded in partnership with WhatUsersDo. Our head of marketing Joanna Perry took to the stage to highlight the key findings of the report, and how retailers could improve their smartphone conversion rates if they worked on their mobile UX. The report is available for download here - and the infographic below shows some of the main statistics. 

Ecommerce UK 2015 Achieving online sales growth

Next up was Robert Mulder, speaking on behalf of Usabilla who were one of the two sponsors of the evening. As a company focused entirely on user experience, Usabilla's key takeaway was valuable insight into the importance of listening to customers. To quote Robert, "You won't know the problems your users encounter until you listen to them", with back-up from a case study on Phillips' site which proves that while analytics show you WHAT is happening, listening to user feedback is the only way to know WHY. 

From there, the retailer panel took their seats alongside Practicology's CCO Jeremy Wilson, who chaired the session.

Jeremy's questions to the panel gave each a chance to answer and explain how their individual brand plans to secure a steady online sales growth in 2016. Xavier from STA Travel revealed that the travel firm is planning a much bigger drive on content marketing and social presence, while pulling back on the expensive option of Google and search. Cathy from Jaeger took a different approach, highlighting Jaeger's focus on tailoring the online experience to its customer, and pushing the use of Google Adwords and email.

"Websites have to be fast - people are impatient"

Jeremy's second question brought the panel round to talking about how their brands uses mobile, and plans for development. Cathy again spoke about Jaeger's focus on the customer, indicating that customer feedback and support is the backbone to how the brand develops the Jaeger experience. Paul from Baker Ross demonstrated how the craft retailer captures new customers with overlays and a fully responsive mobile site. 

Questions from the audience put the panel on the spot, ranging from transactional mobile apps and their value, fraud worries when selling internationally, and the risk of fake reviews (all handled extremely well by the panel).  

Overall the panel provided some valuable tips for retailers, including:

"If you don't know why you're launching an app then don't do it. Don't have an app just for the sake of having an app."

"Beyond the experience on the site, customer support experience is probably the most important area to focus on."

"Don't over-invest in social, forget about iBeacons, and avoid virtual fitting rooms."

"High fashion reviews on particular products are not worth it, due to low volume of product in the first place. It is better to focus on in-store and customer experience, and let the experience become the review." 

Rob Mullen from Smart Focus was our second sponsor of the evening to take to the stage, explaining how his company approaches personalisation and the creation of personal messages to send out to customers. Smart Focus use real-time data to help companies personalise their content on any device, using any data collected. 

Madeleine Melson from House of Fraser was our last speaker to take to the stage, giving the audience a look into how House of Fraser has redesigned to become a customer-centric organisation. Madeleine revealed the difficulty in connecting with the customer emotionally, and how user feedback has become imperative to House of Fraser's new design and customer-centric approach. "Giving an experience appropriate to the channel" is key in the multichannel world of retail, and Madeleine's closing insight was to set yourself up to adapt to what is coming in the future. No one can predict exactly. 

Practicology engaged with House of Fraser to help the department store achieve a customer-centric focus through "Project Gold", which saw 15 new roles created, 30 roles fundamentally changed and customer insight delivered to all departments through a unified customer insight team.

Many thanks to all who were involved in, and attended, the event. We look forward to seeing how the insight provided helps your businesses to continue to grow in the coming year.

If you would like details of future Ecommerce UK events join our group on LinkedIn 

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