By Association Only sponsors Vervaunt’s Pulse Ecommerce Summit for the third year

By Association Only sponsors Vervaunt’s Pulse Ecommerce Summit for the third year

Last week London-based ecommerce consultancy and paid media agency Vervaunt hosted the third Pulse Ecommerce Summit at The Brewery in London. 

The event, which took place on Thursday 30 May, saw more than 850 people from across the ecommerce industry gather for a day of networking, thought-provoking talks and all the fun.

The third Pulse Ecommerce Summit was held at The Brewery in London

As well as a host of panel discussions and workshops – including one featuring By Association Only’s very own Strategic Director, George Linton – entertainment was provided throughout the day by drag queen Tia Kofi, comedian Ali Wood, and magician John Duffet.

More than 850 people from across the ecommerce industry came together for a day of networking and talks

A huge thank you to Vervaunt for inviting By Association Only to sponsor the event for the third year, and for putting on such an inspiring day. And a huge shout out to our fellow sponsors.

Entertainment was provided throughout the day by drag queen Tia Kofi, comedian Ali Wood, and magician John Duffet

The talks

Here are standout takeaways from some of the talks and panel discussions:

Josh Duggan and Paul Rogers from Vervaunt

Opening Statements and Trade Trends: Paul Rogers, Josh Duggan and Joshua Hobson from Vervaunt

Based on Vervaunt’s stats…

  • UK growth is up seven per cent for Q1 year-on-year
  • Resellers are having a bigger impact than ever in the fashion sector with 74  per cent more ad coverage than year before. This is largely due to mass stock being heavily discounted
  • Meta ad spend up 27 per cent with clients spending 60 per cent more on average on this platform 
  • There has been a 16 per cent increase in Google ad spend
  • YouTube is a big opportunity with more videos watched there than anywhere else globally 
  • Digital ad spend is up 11 per cent and is now 80 per cent of UK ad spend 
  • Growth regions include Italy, Spain, Nordics, Japan and Ireland

First-party data is a top priority – brands moving to account-based propositions

  • Push for more logged-in traffic for better tracking
  • This also provides an opportunity to capture more data
  • Better personalisation 
  • Base for loyalty programmes, such as Nike’s member shop
  • Opportunity to be more proactive asking for data based on what you have or don’t have

Simplification of ecommerce technology 

  • Growth in and around no-code and low-code solutions 
  • More brands using Airtable and others
  • Reporting is a big investment area – using off-the-shelf tools and pre-built connectors
  • More consolidations of vendors – search, merch and recs being popular, as well as returns and post-purchase experience 
  • A movement away from heavy customisation and heavy custom solutions 

Increased investment in brand 

  • Retailers are rediscovering the value of brand – loyalty has been on the decline since Covid and with more ad spending, it’s harder to break through the noise 
  • Higher investment in photography and content, such as an increase in in-house photography and video studios
  • Spend being moved from technical to creative places, such as art direction
  • More confidence in branded content ad story-telling across the site 
  • Big focus on brand experience
  • Brand content continues to become longer, more entertaining and shareable 
Lilian Zhu from Wolf & Badger, Sarah Hrywnak from Astrid & Miyu, Stefan Lewis from Represent Clo and Tim Richardson from Your Basket Is Empty

Brand and Marketing Strategy in 2024 – Navigating the New Normal

Moderated by Tim Richardson from Your Basket Is Empty, featuring Sarah Hrywnak from Astrid & Miyu, Stefan Lewis from Represent Clo and Lilian Zhu from Wolf & Badger

When asked if brand is harder to measure than performance?

  • Sarah Hrywnak from Astrid & Miyu says, “Brand is harder to track short term, performance is easier to track short term. We look at statistics from an overall channel perspective as it gives a more accurate picture of performance, however talking to our audience gives more of a brand impression. Looking at both together gives the best impression of what’s working and what’s not.”
  • Stefan Lewis from Represent Clo says, “Brand for us is physical events – activations, run-clubs and so on – connected events that you can ‘feel’ – we could tell really early on that the interactions with customers were really valuable, more than those online, so they’re really important to us.”
  • For Wolf & Badger its tastemaker programme is a brand-building exercise. Influencers choose their own products, make their own edits and bring their audience with them. The company can then directly measure sales made through their edits

When asked if you had £20,000 to spend what do you spend it on?

  • Wolf & Badger replied, “Performance”
  • Represent Clo said, “Brand”
  • Astrid & Miyu said, “Brand”
Valeria Granda from Rebuy and Natalia Tobias from Hoodrich UL

Streetwear’s Digital Renaissance: A Case Study with Hoodrich and Rebuy

Featuring Natalia Tobias from Hoodrich UL and Valeria Granda from Rebuy

  • Natalia Tobias from Hoodrich UL says that after introducing check out suggestions to the brand’s site there was a really good upturn in average order value (AOV)
  • Hoodrich now customises the customer journey by pulling through products they think the customer will like, in addition to low price products such as socks and accessories that don’t require too much thought
  • Using Rebuy, those items can be added without customers having to go out of the cart. You can also add the right size thanks to the Smart Cart technology
  • Tobias says, “Do the thinking for your customers so they don’t have to do that thinking – tell them what else they need to buy”

Hear from the Platforms that Shape Ecommerce

Moderated by James Gurd from Digital Juggler, featuring Birk Angermann from Shopify, Martin Jensen from Centra, and Craig Smith from SCAYLE

When asked what trends there are in technology at the moment…

  • Birk Angermann from Shopify says, “In the end, everything will be helped by AI.”
  • Martin Jensen from Centra believes that there is a trend towards merchants looking for more advanced ecommerce 

When asked why Shopify is still so relevant to brands at an enterprise level?

  • Angermann says that “a lot of businesses on Shopify started very small, now they’re billion dollar businesses – such as Gymshark – so Shopify wanted to build a platform that customers don’t have to leave, where businesses can  grow infinitely.” 
Liam Quinn from Vervaunt

Trends Shaping the Future of ecommerce

Featuring Paul Rogers and Liam Quinn from Vervaunt

Artificial Intelliegnce (AI)

  • Going to impact almost all aspects of ecommerce
  • “Everyone should at least be considering how and where AI could impact business process and the onsite experience,” says Vervaunt

Benefits include…

  • Reduced development effort
  • More efficient image creation – Pangaia has experimented with AI-generated product shoots
  • Reporting
  • Customer service and communications
  • Shipping – Alibaba reported a 40 per cent decrease in errors with delivery due to their main logistics programme 
  • AI data analysis – Vervaunt’s app Census utilises AI for data analysis and pattern detection at scale 
  • AI use cases 
  • Pricing and promotions
  • Onsite personalisation 

Augmented reality

Apple Vision Pro and Meta Quest 3 launches threaten to help surge the uptake this year.

  • The Ray Ban collaboration and movement toward minimalising hardware will likely be key
  • Airbnb utilised AR to visualise size/space/environment 
  • Alo Yoga, Son of a Tailor and Stock X already have strong propositions in the wild
  • Most uptake around gaming and entertainment, however, this is likely to change as hardware is minimalised – especially for homeware 
  • Early adopting brands benefitting from being first to market and the PR associated with it

Metaverse and virtual stores

  • After massive reductions, Meta confirmed that investment in Metaverse has risen this year
  • Continued surge in the number of users on the likes of Roblox and Fortnite, plus brands investing in their own virtual stories 
  • Hugo Boss is just one of the big brands within Roblox. DKNY, Gucci and now also Walmart have moved to be in front of the 70 million daily active users 
  • Clothing and accessories can all be created, uploaded and sold on their marketplace
  • Nike and Balenciaga launched high-profile marketing campaigns within Fortnite 
  • J Crew, Crocs and Maybelline all have virtual stores to visit 
  • Mostly a PR and marketing focus rather than an actual audience live to sell to 
  • Still extremely early but there’s an opportunity for brands trying to capture a younger audience sooner

In-platform purchasing

As in-platform purchasing becomes more seamless and the complexity of setup simplifies, this is one of the more obvious areas of growth

  • Brands with high engagement and numbers on social will benefit the most 

Low-code movement

Low-code is already here and is moving one way very quickly.

Laura Marangon from The Frankie Shop

The Role of Ecommerce for Fashion Brands 

Moderated by Diego Fria from Stüssy, featuring Laura Marangon from The Frankie Shop, Ruby Ribardiere from A.P.C., and Kay Burke from Tommy Hilfiger

When asked if there is any role for AI for ecommerce…

  • Tommy Hilfiger uses AI to help its teams with their workload – such as using an algorithm to create daily targets. “AI doesn’t have to be all shiny and expensive,” says Kay Burke. “We’re all using it every day without even realising.” 
  • Ruby Ribardiere from A.P.C agrees, saysing, “No human brain will act better than a computer, and they can make your life easier
  • The Frankie Shop is trying to train its teams to feel as comfortable as possible with AI, and is also using it operationally to speed up processes

When asked for a controversial view on anything ecommerce, technology and fashion related…

  • Laura Marangon from The Frankie Shop believes that teams should be more vertical as you can “get so much value out of your younger team members.”
  • Burke thinks that rather than big organisations only creating binary roles they’d benefit from allowing employees to work across multiple areas. “Changing people around gives them more experience and more value, especially the more senior they get.”
Erika Goldstone from Lick

Building an Effective Roadmap – Prioritisation, Testing and Measurement of Success

Moderated by Paul Rogers from Vervaunt, featuring Erika Goldstone from Lick, Chris Sheard from Castore, and Geeta Randev from Champion

When asked how they approach testing…

  • Erika Goldstone from Lick replied that the brand doesn’t get to do as much A/B testing as it would like due to time constraints, however, they always test new features heavily before they go live, as well as making small, incremental changes 
  • Geeta Randev says Champion utilities tools such as Contentsquare and Hotjar for heat mapping, helping the brand to understand its purchase funnel 

On how and where to use customer feedback…

  • Lick uses Yotpo to collect reviews, which are then all read and reviewed internally, as well as responded to as quickly as possible
  • The brand also carries out surveys, as well as 45-minute interviews with customers, which are both run internally
  • Castore says that being omnichannel is a brilliant way for brands to talk to customers and get their feedback in real-life 
George Linton from By Association Only, Piers Thorogood from We Make Websites, Martijn Wijsmuller from Ask Phill, Anton Johansson from Grebban and Shamoli Miah from Vervaunt

The Future of Ecommerce – What Brands Should Be Doing in 2025

Moderated by Shamoli Miah from Vervaunt, featuring George Linton from By Association Only, Piers Thorogood from We Make Websites, Martijn Wijsmuller from Ask Phill, and Anton Johansson from Grebban

When asked which brands inspire them…

  • Martijn Wijsmuller from Ask Phill said brands which utilise offline to fuel online hype
  • Anton Johansson from Grebban replied any brand genuinely advocating for sustainability 

When asked which technologies and features they have introduced this year that have been impactful… 

  • George Linton from By Association Only discussed a bespoke Story Chain visualiser the agency built for jewellery brand Astrid & Miyu. Read all about it here

When asked what the biggest trends are in terms of priorities for growth...

  • Johansson replied investment in art direction and creative direction in a bid to make brands stand out from the crowd 
  • Piers Thorogood from We Make Websites said there is still a focus on international expansion from UK merchants thanks to a bleak UK economy
  • Linton replied that first-party data is a priority for merchants, as well as a rise in A/B testing. Read our recent article on the advantages and disadvantages of A/B testing, what can be tested, and which tools are most useful here

When asked if sustainability is still a key focus for brands…

  • We Make Websites has seen a decrease in the number of brands prioritising sustainability, partly due to the state of the economy and the cost of living crisis meaning brands can’t be as conscious as they’d perhaps like
  • Thorogood points out that there is a revenue opportunity there though, and that brands can make money several times over with initiatives such as Toast’s reworn, renewed, exchange, and repair schemes
  • Johansson agrees citing that Grebban’s clients increasingly want to offer repair services – even if they’re not able to yet, its on their roadmap
  • Many of By Association Only’s merchants are going through the B Corp process, says George. There have also been increased efforts to reduce returns – read By Association Only’s top tips on how to improve your returns process here

On AI…

  • Linton says that AI has been a buzzphrase in the last few years, however realistically most implementations are very subtle and designed to make processes more efficient – such as Yotpo’s technology being able to reada brand's reviews and give the merchant an overview 
  • Thorogood agrees that mostly it’s technology partners that are leveraging AI in a way that’s both “cool” and beneficial for merchants
  • Grebban has found that with its ultra-luxury clients, they’re going against the grain and wish to become more personal and more emotional, rather than utilising AI for things such as customer service. However, they have found AI to be great for tasks such as stock management
  • Wijsmuller thinks that brands can be more creative with AI, especially when it comes to generating images

When asked for one impactful takeaway to give brands in the room…

  • Linton highlights Goodhart’s law, which states that, “When a measure becomes a target, it ceases to be a good measure"

About Vervaunt

Vervaunt is a London-based ecommerce consultancy and paid media agency, working alongside ambitious ecommerce brands and retailers to improve key areas of their business and drive growth.

About By Association Only

By Association Only is the Shopify Plus agency for the world’s most design-conscious luxury brands. Get in touch to discover how our team of experts can support your brand’s Shopify ambitions

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