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Drapers Digital Forum: Emerging trends and driving engagement

With just eight weeks left until Drapers Digital Forum, some of the key speakers discuss the topics that are challenging them this year and how retailers should begin to approach overcoming them. 

The Drapers Digital Forum takes place on 28 April 2016 at Etc Venues, 155 Bishopsgate, London EC2M 3YD. Don’t miss out – book your ticket today at or contact Delaney Martin on +44 (0)20 7391 4528 or

Power Talk: Driving engagement and sales

A keynote presentation discussing emerging trends and new drivers of fashion ecommerce.

Speaker: Gareth Jones, deputy chief executive, Shop Direct

  • How has the introduction of a personalised homepage at Shop Direct improved the digital experience and driving engagement?

”Using our unique data to make the customer experience easy and more personalised is the centrepiece of our strategy as an etailer. We hear from Miss Very regularly that she’s drowning in the vast array of products to choose from, and what she’s craving is some inspiration that’s matched to what we know about her. We are now personalising multiple areas of her journey from early engagement on Facebook, to the homepage right the way through to recommendations for shopping new categories.” 

  • What is the biggest challenge when looking at beginning to personalise an online experience?

“The biggest challenge is finding the right talent and third parties to help you land the data science and digital experience for your customer. There’s a big shortage of the right talent in the market and it’s hugely competitive. In the meantime we are leaning on key strategic partners such as IBM and SAS so we don’t slow down.”

  • What other factors need to be taken into account to ensure a seamless customer experience?

It’s imperative that your customer experience across the shopping journey is joined up. Not every area needs to be world class but it’s key to pick a few areas of the experience that matter most to your customer and then spike at that moment. We’ve identified those moments of truth and are starting to deliver on them. There’s still loads of work to do, though. You can’t rest. We’ve got loads still to deliver and that’s what is so exciting.

Power Talk: Quiet revolution

Redefining Marks & Spencer’s digital experience

Speaker: David Walmsley, director, M&S Digital 

  • What is the number one factor retailers should look at when trying to improve the digital experience?

”It’s all about connected retail: joining the experience together for customers. You need to really get your head around how customers experience your brand – on the go, in your store, at home, and through both your ‘owned’ real estate and ‘out there’ through marketing, word of mouth and the social space.”

  •  What is the biggest challenge when looking at beginning to simplify an online experience for an easier user journey?

”Getting hold of data, and turning it into actionable insight is a key priority. You also need to make sure people don’t get distracted by too many shiny new things – that’s as true for customers as it is for people in your own business!”

  • How can retailers find the balance between getting the right amount of data from customers and making the checkout process as simple and easy as possible?

”Customer experience should always come first, so I’d just focus on the latter – don’t use your checkout as a CRM [customer relationship management] data-gathering machine. If you want your customers to share their data, ask them nicely and give them something meaningful in return. The checkout is about keeping things as simple as possible and delivering on your promise.” 

Debate: How to engage, convert and return the online fashion shoppers

A panel will discuss how to engage shoppers and use tools such as big data to improve the customer experience, and keep customers coming back.

Panel speakers include: Kate Holt, group ecommerce director at Jigsaw

  • What is the number one factor retailers should look at when trying to engage shoppers on a digital platform?

”It’s difficult to pin it down to one factor but if I did it I would probably sum it up in one word: relevance. Relevant product and content that is also relevant to the device the customer is shopping on, alongside a good user journey, intelligent search and taxonomy that works well across devices. And finally, a choice of delivery options, ensuring that at least one is relevant to the customer in terms of price, convenience and speed.”

  • How can retailers use big data to improve the customer experience. Which are the most important metrics?

“Email is important for us here, as is social media engagement, and email engagement stats are constantly analysed and refined to ensure we’re cutting through but without the annoyance factor. Search stats are key too – onsite keyword search terms highlight gaps data in our primary navigation and provide useful insights.”

  • What should retailers do to after sale to keep customers coming back?

”Delivery expertise counts for everything, as does clear communication throughout the process. Clear, easy and swift returns should be a given now. Retailers must also ensure they are acting and responding to ratings and reviews – both positive and negative. For both the new and the returning customer a sense of pace and newness throughout the season is critical. At Jigsaw we have new product arriving in store and online weekly and there is always a story to tell – all of this maintains the pace and gives us a reason to communicate our brand message.” 

The Drapers Digital Forum takes place on 28 April 2016 at Etc Venues, 155 Bishopsgate, London, EC2M 3YD. Don’t miss out – book your ticket today at or contact Delaney Martin on +44 (0) 20 7391 4528 or

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