Key insights from InternetRetailing Expo 2019


InternetRetailing Expo takes place annually in Birmingham and is a momentous event within the eCommerce calendar. With over 150 exhibitors and 100 speakers, the event attracts over 5,000 attendees and is a must-not-miss for industry professionals interested in the latest innovative technologies and services shaping seamless customer experiences.

It was great to be able to return as an exhibitor for the third consecutive year and even get the opportunity to catch some of the exciting content on offer. After carefully scanning the event programme and planning the talks I wanted to attend, I decided on several across the two days. Here are the key insights from my top 3 talks.

‘Building a loyal community through product innovation to the checkout experience and beyond.’

Steve Hewitt, Gymshark CEO

Russ Carroll, Commercial Director, Fashion at Klarna

Founded by then 19-year-old Ben Francis, Gymshark was named Britain’s fastest-growing company by the Sunday Times Fast Track in 2016. With a total of 13 online stores and growth of 15,000 - 20,000 social followers each day, Gymshark has become a 100 million pound ‘Conditioning Brand’. Gymshark CEO, Steve Hewitt joined Klarna on stage at the Customer Obsession theatre to discuss the brand’s critical successes and his advice on customer engagement.

Connect with your audience

Gymshark fondly refers to their customers as their fans and promote an inclusive community feel. Steve says “customers can be loyal but fickle”, so it’s essential that you make a real connection with them. In January 2019, Gymshark launched their #gymshark66 campaign video which included a diverse range of people, encouraged the audience to get involved and stripped back the call to action to focus solely on brand awareness and authenticity.



Gymshark understands the importance of customer experience, holding regular events and pop-ups where customers can meet with their favourite athletes or even join them on a weightlifting session. Despite not having a brick and mortar store, this is how Gymshark remains present and accessible to customers across 131 countries.

Build FOMO (fear of missing out)

Recently Gymshark launched a new product range mid-month, they worked on a blackout campaign where customers were able to see new prices but not able to purchase them yet. They also integrated with Klarna payment solution to offer their customers the opportunity to purchase ahead of payday. Since implementing ‘Buy now, pay later’, Steve says their AOV and basket retention has increased considerably.

The evolution of content panel discussion: ‘What will a great content strategy look like by 2021 and what should retailers be doing today to prepare?’

Yiannis Maos, Co-founder & CMO - Hyve

Camilla Tress, eCommerce Strategist - Oliver Bonas

Heike Zellerhoff, Manager Sales & Relations UK - Shopware AG

Neera Sharma, CEO & Founder - Gifts for Little Hands & The Learning Club


An expert panel with extensive experience in the industry leads the discussion on the evolution of content. Sharing their personal experiences, they all agreed on the following three strategies that retailers should be adopting to create a great content strategy.

Transactional content is a thing of the past

The panel believe it is no longer about creating transactional content but about creating content which resonates with your customers. Camilla, eCommerce Strategist at Oliver Bonas admitted that they couldn't compete with Amazon on factors like convenience, so creating an engaging and emotional experience is crucial for building relationships and emotional connections.

Importance of user-generated content

Influencer marketing is so powerful as it is real and authentic. When discussing Oliver Bonas’ strategy around approaching influencers, Camilla explained how they connect with people who are already a fan of the brand and gift them rather than pay for services which promote authenticity.

Ask your audience what they want

Founder and CEO of two eCommerce brands, Neera re-iterated that retailers should always ‘test, learn and scale’. She uses social media surveys to ask her customers what content they are interested in reading before scoping out her content strategy. With brands often focusing on finding new customers, they can often overlook nurturing those already in your community which can prove to be much more lucrative.

‘Driving growth through experience-driven commerce.’

Stephanie Kershaw, EMEA Channel Manager - Magento, an Adobe company

As sponsors of the ‘Scaling up eCommerce’ theatre, spokespeople from both Magento and Adobe featured within the speaker line-up. EMEA Channel Manager at Magento, Stephanie Kershaw shared the following insightful advice around experience-driven commerce.

End-to-end experiences

Recently acquired by Adobe, eCommerce platform, Magento is now able to utilise Adobe’s creative cloud suite to fulfil end-to-end customer journeys and experiences.

Magento Channel Manager, Steph described how ‘it’s all about experience’. Brands like Graham & Green have enhanced their online experience by offering customers the option to demo their chosen wallpaper within an image of their living room. Steph explains how this will fast become the norm over the next 12 months as customer expectations shift.


Shoppable content

Social media channels like Instagram are leading the way with shoppable content, showing relevant and shoppable content to their users. Brands should be utilising these outlets to maximise reach and conversions. Steph predicts this could also be what the future holds for ‘pinboard’ website, Pinterest.

Subscription and IoT business models are evolving

Shaving razors, cosmetics and groceries are now being introduced in subscription-based models. As these products are often re-purchased, subscriptions minimise the effort required from the customer and make things super convenient. Brands such as Birchbox where early adopters of this model for their range of cosmetics, while Under Armour have introduced censor trainers in the U.S. which recognise when the soles are wearing down, and a new pair is needed.

Fast and frictionless checkouts

Steph explained how retailers need to ‘Uberfy’ the customer journey, making the call-to-action unconscious, so people don’t feel like they are spending money. Payment options such as PayPal and Applepay are simplifying the checkout process and making purchases less considered. Unconscious checkouts are not only happening online, Amazon stores in the U.S. are enabling customers to purchase items when picked from the shelves.

Conversational commerce is real

With consumers now using Amazon’s Alexa to purchase their shopping list on-the-go and popularity only increasing, Steph’s advice is to stay ahead of the curve and competition by offering your customers the option to make purchases in this way.

Don’t underestimate post-purchase bliss

Post-purchase bliss starts with delivery excellence, yet many brands are losing that brand experience once the product leaves their hands. Courier services such as DHL and Hermes are given control of the relationship with your customer, and in far too many cases, delivery is taking over the experience. Steph explains how you can attempt to control this by personalising the SMS and email messaging throughout the delivery process.

In summary

A common theme from all of the talks was advice on creating engaging and frictionless customer experiences. With customer expectations changing, retailers have to adapt their eCommerce strategies to meet expectations and remain competitive. InternetRetailing Expo is an event where decision-makers can hear case studies from other successful retailers and meet with expert innovators who are able to bring these ideas to life.

Jessica Truscott