Omnichannel trends in retail from eCommerce experts

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This year’s IGD Digital Commerce summit recognised that brands are at different stages of their eCommerce journeys. For those still building a foundation, there were insights around fixing the basics and for those beyond this stage there were strategic conversations around category strategy and ways of working to help brands set forward thinking goals. No matter what stage you might be in your digital transformation journey, there were three key learnings that resonated with everyone:

What brands and retailers are talking about

  1. It’s time to collaborate

    There was unanimous agreement that eCommerce won't work if everyone is working in silos. Cross collaboration across business functions and with retailers will determine if you succeed or fail online.

  2. Turning to start-ups

    Given the lean and agile nature of start-ups, when armed with technology they invent and re-invent in lightning speed in comparison to their corporate counterparts. There was a lot of conversation around how brands can start working with start-ups to adopt key ways of working whilst giving them something back.

  3. Segmentation & personalisation

    This might not be a new idea in the digital world but there were some fantastic case studies from Diageo and Heineken on how they’ve worked with retailers to push product segmentation online and increase conversion. As we continue to refine this approach, it will continue to pay off.

Key bite size takeaways on Omnichannel

IGD Online Retail Insights Manager, Simon Mayhew, chaired a panel of experts on how to roll out an Omnichannel strategy as well as their view on eCommerce from the top. Here’s what they said…


John Maltman, CEO, E Fundamentals

  • “Alibaba is fundamentally a different business; it’s a seller of services, a seller to shoppers and a seller to suppliers. One of the big changes we need to make is for traditional retailers to start seeing themselves as a seller of services to suppliers; this mindset will tremendously speed up change.”

  • “Embed eCommerce into your business by connecting it to your commercial teams. Ask yourself; how can we make the next product launch our best one yet? How do we take our category strategy and make it relevant to online? How can we discipline our joint business plans to eCommerce?”

  • “If you show your Sales and Marketing teams how their new product is represented online after a big new product launch, they will be horrified as the offline effort is never translated as diligently or effectively online. Huge amounts of work and money goes into new product development which is wasted by not being utilised effectively online.”

  • “One of the best advice I can give to brands and retailers is to set up reverse mentoring schemes. Pair up with 18-20 year olds and see how they interact with your brand and shop online because you’ll learn that it is very different from how you and I shop online.”


Christopher Rapaport, Director Brand Strategy EMEA, Baazarvoice

  • “Our job in ‘new retail’ is to look at how we can leverage data to develop content that consumers need to help them make smart purchasing decisions.”

  • “Retail used to be location driven; buying things in the supermarket was the easiest way to get products in front of consumers. Now due to the changes in consumers' needs and their shopping and diet habits, the emphasis has moved from location to the product itself. This gives brands leverage and they should be investing in their own site and creating their own content which they can provide to retailers.”

  • “One of the best Omnichannel retailer examples is Boulanger. They opened their flagship connected store in Paris and brought online and consumer content to the shelves, where consumers are making their final purchase decision. Smart technology and the right online content leads to in store conversion."

  • “Consumers are no longer asking but demanding. They want high quality products, quick delivery, convenience and a very seamless path to purchase. The most successful companies have delivered that by breaking down barriers between physical and digital worlds.”


Ghislaine Prins-Evers, Head of Digital Transformation, Heineken

  • “Ultimately success in retail is all about having that conversation with your retailer about the shopper. You need data to grow both businesses and brands need to demonstrate the opportunity around how they can sell more so retailers will be open to working with them.”

  • “For companies that have limited resources they need to inspire their management with everything that’s happening in the outside world. Only when you put these things together can you see what’s really happening otherwise you will think that it’s just a very small channel.”

  • “Fixing the basics sounds easy but you really need to understand what those are. You need to pick the right things that matter to your brand and do them well.”

  • “The way to upskill your community is to connect people with each other and give as many practical examples as possible.”

  • “If you’re not winning now, you will be the loser later on.”


Chris Conway, Head of Digital, Co-op

  • ”We’ve seen the discounters and convenience channel all move online. If you do a detailed assessment of all these channels and tag your proposition, you will pick up sales for your business. It might be incremental sales in relation to eCommerce as a whole, but it will only be incremental to your business because you’re focusing on an area which is new to your business, but it isn’t new to the shopper.”

  • “A lot of the work we do has to start predicting where the customers are going to be in the next 5 - 10 years time, not where they are now.”

  • “Companies like Uber Eats and Just Eat have grown phenomenally and we’ve not seen it in our [retail] world. The growth opportunity lies in brands and retailers doing something similar; offer the right services to customers where and when they want it.”

What brands are talking about

See snippets of the presentations and tactics shared by brands on Twitter here.

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Insights from former brand owners