A conference about the growth of ecommerce is planned to take place at the University of Exeter in September – after being postponed three times due to the Covid pandemic.
The inaugural Ecommerce Unlocked symposium is now scheduled for September 10, 2021, a full 17 months after its original date. Ecommerce Unlocked is aimed at businesses who want to know more about online selling and how they can make the most of the customers and opportunities available to them.
Scheduled to speak at the event are Ben Parr, co-founder of Octane AI, former editor-at-large at Mashable and Forbes 30 Under 30 member; Sean Clanchy, director of Swanky Australia and head of optimisation; and award-winning eCommerce MasterPlan podcast creator Chloë Thomas.
The South West is well represented on the conference panel too with delegates from Riverford Organic Farmers, Seasalt and The Recycled Candle Company discussing how ecommerce innovations have helped them face the challenges of the past year and take on the online retail giants.
Organisers said that while it was disappointing to continually have to delay the event, the pandemic has made it even more relevant. The conference has been organised by Exeter-based Shopify Plus ecommerce agency Swanky, founded in 2010 by Dan McIvor and Matt Giles.
Mr McIvor, chief future officer, said: “During the various lockdowns, in-person shopping fell to new lows, with shops having to remain shut and some people nervous about venturing out. In the meantime, online shopping grew exponentially.”
The figures bear this out. In April 2020 UK online food retail grew by more than 55% compared to the previous month. Meanwhile online clothes sales went through the roof, with takeaway food deliveries, books and magazines, and furniture and home accessories not far behind.
In the US, ecommerce giant Shopify estimated that in just one three month period in 2020, ecommerce grew at a rate that would have been expected over 10 years.
Online sales year-on-year swelled by an extraordinary 58%. To put that in context, about 92million people ordered online in 2019, while in 2020 this grew to 137million.
“Every business using online retail platforms should be looking at ways of meeting the challenges of a post-Covid world – because consumer decision making is harder than ever to anticipate and opt outs are becoming a real challenge,” said Mr McIvor.
“The world of ecommerce is constantly mutating so at Ecommerce Unlocked we will be looking at what it takes to keep ahead of all the changes.”
He added: “Ecommerce won’t be standing still anytime soon. Ecommerce Unlocked is a must for any business using a digital retail platform, especially those turning over £1m or more who are looking to expand their knowledge of the latest trends and tools within the online retail industry.”
Business Live’s South West Business Reporter is William Telford. William has more than a decade’s experience reporting on the business scene in Plymouth and the South West. He is based in Plymouth but covers the entire region.
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The conference is being sponsored by high-profile partners, including Shopify Plus and Webtrends Optimize. It’s the first of an event series which Swanky expects will become a highlight in the ecommerce/online retailer calendar.
Swanky, where Mr Giles is chief creative officer, designs, builds and grows enterprise-level Shopify Plus stores. With offices in the UK and Australia, it works to help ecommerce teams around the world get ahead by delivering exceptional customer experiences. It is one of the first three agencies in Europe to be awarded the Shopify Plus Expert Accreditation.