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Warehouse Management Blog

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eCommerce UK 2015 Highlights

WRITTEN BY Jonathan Bellwood /

06 March 2015

The Peoplevox team had a splendid time at Practicology’s eCommerce UK event last night, March 5th 2015. For those who weren’t able to make it, or for those struggling to remember the night after one too many glasses of free wine, we’ve gathered our notes from the evening’s presentations and placed them all in one handy blog. Aren’t we great?

So what went down in the conference hall at the British Library?

Well, the title for the event was ‘Customer Centric eCommerce’ and kicking off the proceedings was an introduction by the host, Mark Lewis, Deputy CEO of Practicology. He gave a brief but interesting talk on email marketing with some examples from recent research into 100 eCommerce companies. The study involved monitoring the number of retailers who sent welcome emails and how often they emailed after, if at all.

It was quite surprising to hear that some rather large retailers (we won’t name names) didn’t bother sending a welcome email to new subscribers and sent no newsletters or updates at all! The message we think Mark Lewis was trying to drive home was that if customers are reaching out to you and seeking new information, take action! If your long-time crush said she wanted to get to know you better would you walk away? We think not.

Next to take the stage was Peoplevox founder and CEO, Jonathan Bellwood, who gave a presentation on The Customer-Centric eCommerce Warehouse. The theme of his talk was optimising warehouse processes to improve the customer journey. For example, most eCommerce retailers tend to put more effort into fulfiling marketplace orders over orders from their own website, despite the lower profit margin, to avoid receiving bad reviews. By implementing a good warehouse management system, eCommerce retailers can start to fulfil orders like Amazon, thereby encouraging customers to make orders on the main website instead of marketplaces.

Following Jonathan was Richard Goodall, Group Sales & Marketing Director at PCMS, also presenting on behalf of Ann Summers’ Phil Syson who could not attend. Goodall’s presentation began with a rather, er, raunchy slideshow from Ann Summers, accompanied by a fitting Marvin Gaye song - you know the one. Considering the recent 50 Shades pandemic it’s no surprise that Ann Summers is doing well but to drive for better flexibility and efficiency, they decided to outsource their Contact Centre, after great consideration, to PCMS.

PCMS are a retail services company providing outsourcing systems, roll out services, and a contact centre facility. To cater for Ann Summers’ needs, they offer onshore, dedicated and educated teams to work in the Contact Centre under the TUPE system. With the collaboration they hope to achieve some aggressive targets for improvement, bringing Ann Summers’ customer service to a new level.

The next presentation was from Gareth Williams, CEO at Sofa.com. When asked to talk about his company’s customer service, Gareth compared it to asking a fish to describe water. Sofa.com is built around customer service and it is at the heart of everything they do. An interesting point he made was that, more often than not, the only human contact a customer gets with the company they have ordered from is during the delivery. From this, he explained that sofa.com runs almost all their deliveries in house because ‘last impressions are crucial.’

Further reinforcing the company’s desire to put the customer first, Gareth left us with a few stories about employees who have gone the extra mile to guarantee customer satisfaction - something a few retailers might wish to take heed of.

Fellow sponsors of the event, Sagepay, took to the stage next to introduce their new innovation in payment technology - Guardian Cloud. For the technical specifications, we suggest getting in touch with SagePay, but from what we understand Guardian Cloud is a means for customers to pay for their products before reaching the till by storing transactions in the Cloud which can then be authorised at a terminal. The benefits? Well, primarily it should cut the queues at peak, dropping the risk of customers abandoning a sale due to long wait times. This, in turn, encourages customer loyalty.

Ever the life of the party, ao.com, represented by Yossi Erdman, Head of Brand & Social Media, gave a very energetic presentation about their efforts to nurture relationships with their customers. From what we could tell they appeared to be gurus when it came to Social Media, throwing out competitions and offers in unique and engaging ways - such as a video showing Yossi strip down to promote a new washing machine. When we said unique, we sure meant it!

The power of the personal touch is something not underestimated by ao.com either with CEO John Roberts sending personalised letters out to every customer who comments on the company Facebook page, whether it’s a negative or positive comment. Another interesting tool they use to encourage their delivery drivers to be on top form is by compiling a book of all the delivery driver reviews on social media, good and bad, and posting them out to the drivers’ homes. Of course, while the driver is out working it’s their partner who gets the first peak and we’re pretty sure anyone who knows anything would want to avoid a scolding from the other half!

Following the presentations was a brief Q&A, but the rest gets a little fuzzy as we all retired back to the bar for some post-event networking.

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