The convention season has well and truly started for 2018. First on our calendar this year was the Internet Retail Expo (IRX) in Birmingham. We had a very busy two days meeting with our technology partners including Magento, Klevu, and Nosto, attending seminars with leading brands including John Lewis, Tesco, Vodafone and Lidl, looking at the future with talks from Amazon, Google, and Facebook and gaining insight into technology behind the leading payment gateways with Barclaycard, Ingenico and Adyen.

IRX provided a wide range of presentations and workshops. There were numerous themes covered, with some very useful and practical takeaways that can be actioned today, as well as thought leadership and thinking on the future of online retail. The standout topics and themes of the event were:

  • Voice search
  • PWA and AMP
  • Mobile experience
  • Personalisation
  • GDPR
  • Bridging online and offline
  • Reducing friction and increasing convenience
  • Payment gateways


The first talk of day two was presented by Paul Wilkinson, Head of Technology Research and Open Innovation at Tesco Labs. His talk focused on voice-activated shopping and search, and looking at the real impact of these processes beyond the hype that they are currently generated. He assessed how Google Home and Amazon Echo are changing the shopping game through voice activation and what should be done to streamline the customer journey rather than creating a barrier.

Our Key Take Aways:

  • IFTTT helps to get apps and devices talking together. They know that not all apps will play nicely together and they aim to bridge this gap.
  • Wemo is a progressive platform aiming to sync all of your home appliances to one easy-to-use device.
  • Hue by Phillips is a great example of voice-activated smart lighting.
  • A two year old child growing up will try to swipe everything believing it is a digital device including TV’s and magazines. This new generation need to be catered for the in the future.
  • Alexa is taking over the traditional supermarket shop allowing customers to add to their list as the days go by and items are being used.
  • Our exceptions and needs of e-commerce are changing and becoming ever more demanding.

On to talk number two of the day which was revolved around an incredibly interesting subject within logistics - the real cost of failed deliveries. This was presented by Chris Boaz, Head of Marketing for PCA Predict which is a tool we recommend to all clients who use Magento. One in every twenty online orders are not delivered on the first attempt and this can lead to serious financial and repetitional damage. Chris talked about what the real issue was behind this and how retailers can improve data quality and increasing the likelihood of a successful delivery. 

Our Key Take Aways:

  • The average cost of a failed delivery is £14.33.
  • To improve the address validation process, Chris recommended five key tips
  • Cater for users around the world
  • Cater for logical search
  • Optimise for mobile devices
  • Use IP addresses to prioritise the user’s location
  • Allow for typos and misspellings
  • Failed deliveries can have a huge impact on the amount of negative customer reviews
  • 54% of retailers refund shopping for failed delivery and 38% offer a discount for that order. This is all at a cost to the business.
  • Royal Mail adds 3500 new addresses everyday.
  • Autofill is the biggest blocker for smart address prediction and validation, and it is recommended that it should be turned off.


Monetising the checkout experience was the title of the third talk of the day we attended with a focus on best practice strategies that deliver growth. This was delivered by Sangeetha Narasimhan who is the Regional Marketing Director of EMEA for Retail SMB at Ingenico Group. The talk focused on understanding what you can do with your payments strategy to help checkout conversion can accelerate your business growth.

Our Key Take Aways:

  • In the future, everything is going to have a payment gateway (IoT).
  • A chatbot at checkout can enhance the user experience and provide help to users who are struggling with the checkout journey.
  • The checkout process is referred to as ‘the last mile of conversion’.
  • Your post-checkout experience should be exciting and something more than just an order confirmation screen. Sangeetha showed examples of gamifying the post-checkout screen using a scratch card or spinning wheel game to interact with the user.
  • Click and collect and tokenisation are two important areas to be focusing on to improve user experience.

Our second to last talk of the day was presented by Liz Cooke, Strategic Payments Consultant at Barclaycard. This talk focused on creating the optimum online payment customer journey touching upon the innovation within the field, the growth of mobile and shopping anywhere at anytime, and the importance of fraud and security. 

Our Key Take Aways:

  • There have been more innovations in payments in the last three years than in the previous fifty.
  • PSD2 will be becoming a big feature of online payments allowing two step authentication.
  • New forms of identity confirmation are emerging including biometric confirmation with voice.
  • Payments are becoming invisible to the user creating a ‘grab and go’ or ‘dine and dash - tap, eat, go’ experience.
  • A good payment gateway is comprised of a strong ominichannel experience, internationalisation, prominent security and fraud features and a simple checkout process.
  • Last year £12bn in penalties were dealt out by the banking industry with an average of a £7,000,000 penalty per breach.
  • Brands and agencies must create a Cyber Incident Response Plan.
  • Tokenisation is becoming essential.
  • 50% of the British public now carry less than £5 in cash and 74% of British shoppers are now mobile payment users.
  • In 2017, £27bn was expected to spent via mobile devices.
  • By 2019, it is predicted that 80% of adults around the world will own a smart phone of tablet, £33bn of retail sales will be made directly by a mobile device rising to £53bn by 2024 and mobile devices will be used to pay almost £1 in every £7 spent in British shops.

Our final talk of the day was on the subject of bridging the online and offline gap to drive growth in a non-line world, focusing on search. This was presented by Steph Osiol who is an Industry Manager at Google and focused on understanding how consumers move seamlessly across channels and expect retailers to do the same, as well as how to stay ahead of the competition in this field, and using data to drive business rather than channel goals.

Our Key Take Aways

  • You should verify the importance of your search users.
  • Checking your Google Analytics site search reports regularly is essential.
  • Measure your zero search result rate and constantly look at ways to improve this. A customer should never find a blank zero results search page.
  • Add synonyms regularly to your search and implement a smart search that can take away this work from you.
  • Provide keyword suggestions as a autocomplete solution. 
  • Improve ranking based upon product popularity.
  • UX improvements, filters, sorting options and showing the result count are all key to providing a great search experience.

Why not read our review of Day One where we discuss talks we attended further exploring site personalisation, sharpening up your SEO strategy, bridging the online-offline gap, and A/B testing.