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IRX 2023: Convergence and omnichannel profitability

By Miya Knights, Publisher | Wednesday May 17 2023 | UPDATED 19.05.23

As the ecommerce sector gears up for its premier UK technology show, attendees must focus on both tactical and strategic trends and developments, writes Miya Knights, Retail Technology Publisher

Retailers and brands are still feeling the impact of the recent, global COVID pandemic on their ecommerce businesses. So, whether they trade online only or also own physical stores, it is vital that they stay abreast of current tactical and strategic ecommerce trends.

The upcoming premier UK internet retailing event, IRX, taking place at the NEC Birmingham, 24-25 June 2023, will provide a one-stop-shop for operators in the sector to discover and discuss the latest developments alongside their suppliers and peers.

With a free exhibition and conference programme, will be in attendance specifically to find out how technologists and practitioners are tackling the most pressing challenges of convergence and omnichannel profitability.

Among the featured retail case-studies from big and fast-growing brand speakers, a host of workshops with actionable advice, and a variety of suppliers offering innovative technologies, this article rounds up the top sessions, topics and solutions to watch out for.*

Spotlight on retention

Exclusive research carried out among previous IRX attendees revealed that the top three priorities from the last show in 2021 – acquiring new customers, brand awareness, and entering new markets – hadn’t changed, customer retention had risen up strategic agendas.

Retention has unsurprisingly become a key competitive battleground in the wake of major pandemic-fuelled ecommerce gains. It is also a strategic requirement in driving profitability given that customer acquisition costs (CAC) have grown by 60% over the last five years.

The IRX conference agenda reflects this shift towards retention, where Carly O’Brien, Chief Marketing Officer of Gymshark, will discuss the critical importance of understanding the customer above everything else during a plenary keynote on the opening day at 10:30 BST.

Kristian Burnard, Head of eCommerce of Lounge Underwear, which is headquartered in Birmingham will also take part in a session, titled “How to build brand reputations and customer trust through connected and consistent shopping experiences” at 14:35 BST.

AI and automation

The battleground for retention is also being shaped by consumers’ return to stores, where ecommerce must increasingly facilitate the convergence of digital customer experience (CX) with stores. Here, artificial intelligence (AI) and automation development will feature heavily.

Adam Warne, Chief Information Officer at River Island, will cover the recent introduction of “smart” fitting rooms in a session at 10:00 BST on day one, where the fashion retailer is linking online inventory to stores.

The use case facilitates product recommendations that would go well with what is being tried on, even if only available online. Warne added: “This innovation is driving an increase in order value. More than that, we are seeing the digital and physical worlds blend more.”

Recent innovation in the generative AI space will also be an area of focus at the event. While it has already spawned the rise of the chatbot and other customer service-related tasks, attendees should examine how it can further help improve efficiency and reduce costs.

Leading on diversity and inclusion

The show will feature sessions across four conference theatres, including keynotes, panels, and fireside chats. Three workshop theatres will focus on providing practical and applicable advice, and a new diversity, equality and inclusion (DE&I) track will feature on day two.

Designed to provide a safe space for attendees, irrespective of race, gender, religion or disability, the DE&I conference content has been designed to help members of the ecommerce community understand how best to support and empower one another.

Retail Technology will also be represented, moderating a DE&I session taking place on day two at 11:40 BST on enabling diversity in leadership. Panellists will include representatives from home improvement retailer, Wickes, and tech members’ group, the MACH Alliance.

To sum up, James Peach, Global Brand Director at Vinted, the second-hand clothes online marketplace, who is speaking about brand-building in 2023, said of his inaugural visit: “At IRX, I’m hoping to meet many new people, gain plenty of insights, inspiration and ideas.”

Retail Technology Publisher, Miya Knights, will moderate a panel, entitled “Diversity in leadership” on 25 May at 11:40.

Register here to attend IRX 2023.

*This is a sponsored article.

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