On Tuesday and Wednesday last week, Tamar ventured through the snow to represent the digital agency world at the 2009 ‘retail bulletin’ strategy summit.
Filled with speakers and delegates from top UK retail brands, the event consisted of presentations and panel sessions interspersed with breaks for networking and refreshments.
After lunch on the second day, Tamars very own Henry Elliss sat down next to senior representatives from The Post Office, Shuh, cheapflights.co.uk and Avis for a panel entitled 'online retail in 2011'.
Henry fielded questions on topics ranging from techniques for building trust and loyalty with consumers online to whether websites could ever mimic important positive elements of the high street shopping experience.
His responses were pertinent, erudite and loaded with wit, passionately articulating the virtues of opening and managing a two way dialogue with consumers and emphasising the importance of only building functionality that adds genuine value to the retail experience.
Other session highlights included a perfectly pitched expose into the impact of taking a truly multi-channel approach from Adri Kraa, Head of Shop Online at Ikea and a compelling insight into strategies for a recession from Sir Brian Pittman ex chairman of Lloyds TSB and currently a non exec director of the Carphone Warehouse and Singapore airlines amongst others.
A key theme across the two days was multichannel strategy.
Of particular interest and debate was how retailers could and should unlock the power of etail without damaging the investment already made in brick and mortar.
The argument that an ambitious and well funded internet presence will cannibalise sales through other channels was broadly dismissed as dated and unfounded, with Adrii even displaying the figures to prove it!
Other regular debates included pricing and green retailing. Can it make sense in a world of price comparison websites to charge the same online as is offered on the high street?
Will an increasingly challenging economic environment push corporate environmental initiatives to the background?
We ‘set up shop’ in the networking area, proudly displaying our new ‘Tamar green’ branded banner, feasting on coffee and digestives and ensuring no-one left without a good chat on the virtues of natural search conversion.
Ironically I feel that the volatility and issues facing the sector as a whole should be perceived as an opportunity for Tamar.
In a world where even the most established and treasured retail brands are not safe, it is undoubtedly time for traditional retailers to buy into online or lose the most fundamental route to growing incremental revenues, reducing cost per sale and building a sustainable competitive advantage in 2009 and beyond.
The only downside was the weather.
I personally like the snow and had reasonably painless experience getting both to and from the Cavendish conference centre. Unfortunately others were not so lucky. With some transport systems at a complete standstill, relatively large numbers (including Jonathon Brown form B&Q who was scheduled to speak on day 1) failed to make it down and as a result attendance levels were not quite what the organisers had predicted.
All in all though, it was a productive couple of days for Tamar that bodes well for upcoming events over the next couple of months.
A CD-rom is currently being complied for the event. In addition to video evidence of the Elliss masterclass, it will include PPT’s from all the presentations and profiles of all the companies who exhibited.
I’ll keep you posted…Tweet