CW500: David Smith, managing director at online retail trade body IMRG

Businesses across all sectors are revisiting their web strategies to better communicate with their target audiences. In the latest CW500 Club meeting, web experts from different organisations shared their views of the next generation of the web and how it will affect businesses and public services.

In this CW500 Club video, David Smith, managing director at online retail trade body IMRG, talks to Computer Weekly editor in chief Bryan Glick about the challenges posed by advances on the web and discusses the direction that online strategies will take in the next few years.



Read the full transcript from this video below:

CW500 David Smith

Bryan Glick: Hello. Welcome to this Computer Weekly 500 Club video.
My name is Bryan Glick. I am the Editor-in-Chief
of Computer Weekly. I am here talking to some
of the guest speakers from our latest CW 500 Meeting
of IT Leaders. This month, we have been looking at
the future of the web. Joining me now is David Smith.
David is Managing Director of the Interactive Media in Retail Group,
an association of online retailers, an organization that
really looks across the whole of the e-commerce industry,
and looks at some of their key trends. David, thank you very
much for coming to join us and to talking at CW 500 tonight.
You look across the whole market, the whole online retail industry.
What are you seeing as the key trends, the key drivers,
and the change that the web is driving on those organizations?

David Smith: The biggest change, obviously, which we are
seeing at the moment is, purely from a retail point of view,
is consumer engagement. Certainly, over the last 5 to 6 years,
more and more consumers are now shopping online.
About 88% of the populations are now accessing the web,
and of those, a good half of them are now regularly shopping online,
this has meant huge changes for retailers. You had the earlier adopters,
people like Amazon, Asos, and those guys who are in the
pure- play area and have done very, very well. What we are seeing now
is the rise of the multi-channel retailers, and it is how they are
embracing the web technologies, and how you look at somebody
like Tesco, John Lewis, Marks & Spencers, these very, very large,
familiar names from the high-street, are now doing ever so well online.

Bryan Glick: What do you see as the key technologies
that are underpinning now? What is happening in the
technology world that is driving those changes?

David Smith: A lot of it has to do with consumer engagement.
If you think about the way in which the retailers are looking
to get stickiness onto their websites, from that point of view,
we have seen a lot of video technology coming across.
The other great disruptor that we are seeing within the
market place at the moment is the whole area of mobile communication,
the whole uptake of social commerce. From a retailer's point of view,
it is very much being able to connect on a one-to-one
basis with their customer. If you look at the old model,
from a brick and mortar point of view, it is very difficult to do.
You knew very little about the customer who came into your store,
whereas if you are tracking somebody from an online point of view,
you can get a lot more information. There that there is so many
multiple touch points for the consumer to get involved with
the retail brand, from a technology point of view, there is an
awful lot of work that needs to be done to get that single customer view.

Bryan Glick: You were talking, in short, of the early innovators,
the early adopters in the online retail sector.
To somebody who is not one of those early adopters,
which I guess is probably the majority, in many ways,
what would you take as one piece of advice for what
you could see that those early innovators are doing
that you think other people should be preparing for?

David Smith: I think, if you are just barging out into online
as part of a wholesale retail proposition, it is understanding
and knowing who your customer is. The whole area of customer care,
particularly for the smaller retailers, they can be a lot more
agile in that area, than say, you would be surprised,
some of the larger retailers. That ability and that
opportunity to have that real customer engagement
is very important, and obviously, there are lots of
technologies around that enable those retailers to
be able to have that one-to-one interaction with their customer.

Bryan Glick: I think, clearly, you hit the most important there.
The technology might be great, and it might be driving the way,
but at the end of the day, it is about what the customers want.

David Smith: Absolutely. Again, if you look at, you can have
the best website in the world, but if you cannot deliver
the product to the person when and where they want it,
in a timely fashion, you are just failing. If you look at a
lot of the new technology that is coming in, in the
logistics this area, that is all there to enable a far better
experience for the consumer, in terms of being .
able to receive the goods. Whether or not they
are at work or at home, it is down to the consumer,
it is a consumer choice. This is what is really firing
a lot of what is going on within the web at the moment,
certainly from a retail point of view, because rather than
being retailer-centric, they are having to be customer-centric.

Bryan Glick: Great advice, and very interesting observations
on the developments in the web. David Smith from IMRG,
thank you very much for coming over and talking to CW 500 tonight.

That is all we have got time for on this CW 500 Club video.
Thank you again for watching, and we will you again soon. Bye.

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