Do you have the competitive edge? Key takeaways from eCommerce Live UK 2018


In the fast-paced world of eCommerce, it is crucial that retailers have the ability to adapt to an ever-changing environment and capitalise on emerging trends. #eCommerceLiveUK gathers experts and influencers in Manchester and London to share their story and inspire other brands to supercharge their eCommerce store.

Offering advice on how to boost conversions throughout the year and maximise potential during peak periods, this year’s content spanned across a wide range of topics, including creativity, email marketing, website platforms, automation and security. We heard from a great lineup of speakers and enjoyed a number of panel discussions, here are our highlights.

Holly Tucker - Co-Founder and President of

Holly Tucker, Founder of Not on the High Street started out selling vegetable wreaths at a town hall alongside 100 other independents. After issues with the town hall roof, Holly had the idea to create an online marketplace with all types of businesses under ‘one roof’. In a time where there were only marketplace giants eBay and Amazon, Holly wanted to create a platform which housed unique goods. She worked tirelessly and roped her family in to do the same. In 2006 Not on the High Street was born.

"We were customers, not just founders". Holly knew what her customers wanted, however, didn’t always have the funds available to fulfil it. She spoke about the importance of crowd-funding which is now available to small businesses: “You can make your customers equity”.

Aside from her determination and creativity, another thing we loved about Holly was her morals and company culture. Her marketplace has become much more than a selling platform, it’s a community - championing community and empowering women business owners. 90% of the businesses on Not on the High Street are owned and ran by women, enabling ‘Mumrepreneurs’ to balance their family life and career.

Not on the High Street is now over 10 years old and has a turnover of over £600 million to date, turning over £158 million last year alone. Having played an active role in this growth from startup to major eCommerce player,  Holly now offers her advice to budding businesses. Holly said: “My mission is to help small businesses and independents”, and she certainly is! Publishing business advice books, running her own podcast and enjoying her new role as 'Chief Inspirator' in her newly launched Holly & Co (a brand which provides artisan advice and inspiration to small businesses around the UK). Holly inspired everybody at eCommerceLive with the following key pieces of business advice.  

Holly’s key pieces of business startup advice:

  • Champion a community

  • Find your purpose

  • “Our decisions are 5% rational and 95% emotional” - create an immersive brand which touches hearts.

  • “If you don’t stand out, don’t bother” - be unique!

  • “Creativity has to be your number one priority, when others turn right you turn left” - get creative!

  • “You only have 29,000 days on this planet, make each one count” - achieve something every day.

Gavin Laugenie - Email Strategist at Dotmailer

As partners of Dotmailer, we already knew Gavin was going to give a great talk with lots of clever email marketing tips and insights. Showcasing Dotmailer’s ‘Hitting the mark’ report which rates 100 brands from a range of verticals on their email marketing effort. The report acts as a benchmark for brands internally, allowing them to create an effective and proven email marketing strategy.

Dotmailer believes that brands across the board are leaving money on the table by not fully utilising email, so Gavin shared his advice on delivering intelligent, relevant messages that add real value to the customer journey. Here are the key email activities he believes promote brand loyalty and increased conversions.


Email marketing tips from Dotmailer:

Welcome emails

Welcome emails after the customer has signed up or purchased an item are super simple and effective. They offer the opportunity for brands to introduce themselves and by using Dotmailers ‘5 reasons you should subscribe/shop with us’ method, brands can shout about their USP’s such as free delivery, competitions and current offers.

Another tip from Gavin: “Don’t be afraid to ask the customer questions”, you may think that using a form on an email is off putting but it really is necessary as it will allow you to segment your database and deliver personalised and relevant content going forward. You may find that customers are more willing than you think to part with their information or you can consider using an incentive such as a discount code or competition entry for longer forms.

Abandoned cart emails

It’s common knowledge that abandoned cart emails are proven to boost sales, however, according to Dotmailer 56% of brands don’t send abandoned cart emails. Typically, a large proportion of people who abandon their carts will plan to come back, so if you’re not reminding them with abandoned cart emails you could be leaving serious money on the table. Emails which include an image of the product and a direct link to the product page simplify the customer journey and make it even easier for users to make a purchase.

After sales review emails

An after sales review email offers the opportunity for a brand to say thank you and to let the customer know they value their opinion. Gavin advised retailers to “keep the high” by ensuring a post-purchase email is sent out (even better if it’s personalised and relevant to their purchase). It also allows brands to create user-generated content and collect feedback which can impact internal buying decisions and used for product promotion purposes.

Give readers more subscription options

“Don’t be afraid to get dumped”, give readers the option to unsubscribe or change preferences at a higher point on the email. After all, 100 engaged readers are worth more than 200 customers who wish they never signed up. Offering readers the opportunity to set their preferences and asking them the right questions will also allow for more targeted email campaigns.

Sean Brown - Founder of Mercarto

Founder of Mercarto, Sean Brown’s talk was titled ‘Automation: the end of marketing as we know it’ and was an inspiring talk on the benefits of AI and automation. Including increased efficiency,  personalised communication, data acquisition, plus the ability to generate leads and retarget at scale. As an early adopter of new trends and technologies, Sean offered some valuable insights into what has worked well for him and others.

Sean’s automation tips:

Maximise acquisition channels

There are now more acquisition channels available to marketers than ever including a host of social channels. Automation makes it possible for brands to split ‘social’ into specific channels and deliver channel-specific messages which will perform much better than a ‘one size fits all’ message. Sean advised: “Each channel is different so give them the respect”.

Create an ‘ad-eco-system’

Draw an ‘ad-eco-system’ identifying the number of touch points and retargeting opportunities, this will really help you visualise and tailor your customer journey.


Get dark on social

Sean referred to Facebook and WhatsApp messaging as ‘dark social’ and believes that not enough brands are using this as a key acquisition method. “Facebook messaging has an open rate of 92%” - an impressive percentage when compared to the average open rate on email.

Put an emphasis on advocacy marketing

With traditional marketing like TV, press, radio and billboards becoming less and less lucrative, successful brands are investing in post-buyer advocacy marketing like reviews, upsell, subscribe etc. With automation, this style of marketing can be streamlined into the customer journey.

Following on from Sean’s talk, Sean joined the panel discussion and was asked what eCommerce trends he was most excited about, Sean replied “Merging the gap between online and offline with technologies like AI Mirrors and virtual personal shopping”.

We hope you enjoyed our event round up, we had a great time listening to the speakers at eCommerce Live UK 2018. We would encourage other agencies and brands to attend events like as they are sure to widen your knowledge of emerging trends and inspire internal eCommerce teams be open to new ideas which will give them the competitive edge.

Jessica Truscott