top of page

This is not a Johnny Cash song - Time to Trade: The Challenges and Opportunities of eCommerce

in a New World - What I learned at #eCommLive

Even without the vacuum of the company that was the last 2 years, the first steps into the Assembly Buildings main hall was special in it's own right. Conferences are a weird beast, largely impersonal and lacking an anchor. This was the antithesis of that feeling. I know that feeling and it was uplifting to be a small part of that. This was about more than #ecommerce .. A brief chat with Andrew Hassard of Mango Bikes (partial to a plum porter) encapsulated it. He wanted to shrug off an external impression of Belfast and present a unique, empowered and passionate band of people presenting a forward-looking and visionary future for what Belfast can be in Ireland.

The opening address crystalised this - a non-political Lord Mayor, Kate Nicholl was clear in her understanding of what days like this can and should mean for a community. That word was the centre of this little earth we inhabited for the few days. With over 350 delegates and at least 30 seminars/panel discussions going on, there was no shortage of choice of what to attend. I was emcee for the day on the main hall, so my observations are from that view point - sorry to those I didn't get to see (and wanted to) - STATsports/Granite - Shopify and Milk Bottle Labs to name a few.

eCommerce has been consistently delivering opportunities for growth, now more than ever. But it's core challenges still remain:

Challenge for talent/skills development

Understanding the decision-making process and how to prioritise this

How to maximise channels and understand their levers

These will always exist and are not uniquely interesting. What struck me about the few days was how many "channels" are emerging. Klarna are no longer a bank - they are a media platform - yes, a media platform. TikTok is an entertainment platform. The TikTok algorithm is just warming up to performance. In 6/9 months, it will be primed! Feed the machine is my message. Klarna, led by the ever smooth Colin Creagh, have pivoted out of financial services into a world of media. Immersive and utilitarian. Over 150m users, 50M+ app downloads and boasting over 25M active monthly users. That is purchasers - this means intent. Pay attention.

Community - the most used word of the day, without exception. We need it, you need it, the industry needs it. It is what brought us all together and what sets the industry apart. A few unicorns aside, there are little differences between performance, there should be more open sharing as there really are no secrets, nor should they be. Open dialogue always, and forever.

Margin, margin, net margin - per order. The promise from IRP. Challenge raised and accepted. Ballsy and ambitious. It will halt some businesses and improve many many more. An ambitious plan from a team that delivers and have a track record. Philip McCartney, CCO had a twinkle in his eye delivering his well-thought-out discussion. It is the one that will be had on most board room tables for the rest of the year, and rightly so.

Customer experience raised it's head above the parapet and I couldn't help but feel we could have spent a day discussing omni ecommerce. Leed by Gordon Newman and guided through the discussion, I felt a little like we left that behind us. Customer experience is happening, almost by chance, instore experiences have a vast window for improvement and this needs to be understood, planned and prioritised - in this order.

I could go on, but I need to bring my eldest son to hospital to check on his broken arm. This is the type of conference this was - texts today to enquire I got home safely, thank yous and enquiries on how our little soldier was doing. This was not a conference, it was a rising, an event, you had to be there - this does not happen by accident. This is a brand borne out of the values lived and shared by Kev Traynor. Modest in his need for thank yous, generous in his praise for others but he brought this together. When we think of brand and tone of voice and all that goes with it, we are challenged, but with so much discussion and sharing and everyone willing to bring their A-game and share, it is evident, Kev knows his brand. As he shed a wee tear in the Crown at 5.45pm yesterday, it was one I could empathise with, it was an emotional little tribute to himself. His brand is authentic and that created great discussion and the possibility of more. I hope we rally around this and similar events, unique in their nature and location.

It is a place ready to shake of the hangover of Christmases past and forge it's own future. People like Kev and his team are just the beginning.

Oh Yeah, don't forget TikTok!


bottom of page