The eCommerce Catch-Up – Episode 7

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Published on 06/01/20 by James Vjestica.

Are you interested to find out the latest retail news at the beginning of 2020? Our January edition of our monthly retail news round-up is extra special as our Strategy Manager, Brad Houldsworth, visits Moss Bros HQ to discuss the latest eCommerce topics with their Head of eCommerce Matt Henton. This months conversation is based around the following:

  • Customer data platforms
  • Retailers’ website analysis
  • Last-mile strategies
  • And more!

Check out what they had to say by either clicking on the video or reading the full transcript below!

Why not get involved in the conversation? Subscribe to our Youtube channel to keep up to date with all of our videos and let us know which retail topics you would like us to discuss in the future!


Brad: Hi, welcome to Remarkable Commerce’s seventh episode of the e-commerce catch-up. This month is a pretty special episode; we’re here in London at Moss Bros HQ with the lovely Matt Henton, Head of eCom.

Matt: Hi Brad

Brad: How are you doing?

Matt: Yeah, very well thank you

Brad: Good stuff, good to be here. So, this special episode we’ve got a few things to talk about, er, the first of which we’re gonna talk about customer data platforms and the evolution of them, second thing is weird and wonderful stuff we’ve seen on retailers’ websites, the third one is innovations on last-mile strategies. So, let’s get into it.


Brad: Right, so, customer data platforms, I guess the evolution in my view has come from traditionally email service platforms which have then housed all of your customer data, you then use that to send out customer messaging. The whole idea of a customer data platform is essentially where a platform collates lots of information about your customer, you then have a single point view on your customer and then you can make decisions about how you want to market to them. That’s my view on kind of what they are and how they work – any opinion on the evolution of them, how they’ve come about?

Matt: Yeah, I like to think of it as being, er, I guess, the starting point being CRM platforms which were really focused on bringing in that first-party data, erm, mainly transactional data and er, later customer contact centre information just to really try and build that picture of what our customers are doing, what they’re buying and how they’re interacting with us as a brand, erm, but yeah, absolutely, as we’ve moved beyond that, er, and started bringing third-party data, erm, from digital marketing platforms or from our analytics platforms and layering that onto the first-party data –

Brad: – Yeah –

Matt: – That’s really, I think, what brings us to the sort of the data platforms that we’re looking at and we’re using today.

Brad: Cool, and how do you see offline playing a part in that? Do you think that there needs to be much more evolution in that kind of piece or do you feel like we’re never going to get there?

Matt: – Well, we’ll probably never get to a point of perfection when it comes to offline data, erm, but I think as retailers get better at identifying, er, who their in-store shoppers are in the same way that they’re able to do, erm, online, then I think that that level of data will play an increasingly important part in understanding what it is the customers are doing –

Brad: – Yeah –

Matt: – How they’re interacting with us as brands and, er, what we can do to improve the experiences and personalise the experiences that we put in front of those customers –

Brad: – Makes sense. All right, next up is talking about weird and wonderful eCommerce functionality that we’ve been noticing in our space, er, over the coming of the past few months, erm, first of which is the New Balance site. They do something quite interesting, they essentially categorise and group up their products in each of their PLPs. So, for instance, we’re looking here at the lifestyle shoes category and you can see that they’ve actually grouped products together in a logical sense of best-selling products followed by classic styles, followed by sports styles etc and this is useful I think from a customer behaviour point of view because if I didn’t necessarily land in a particular place that I wanted to on the site, I’m probably going to travel from, kind of, top-down within a platform within a site. So, I’m gonna start at men’s, I’m gonna go into shoes and then if I’m on a bit more of an exploration kind of mission, I would probably start or then top the parent categories and then scroll down through them, erm, so this gives me that, kind of, a level of experience, erm, and giving me a lovely more inspiration on the range available within a certain category. What do you make of this?

Matt: I really like what they’ve done actually –

Brad: – Yeah –

Matt: – I think we’re gonna see a lot more of, er, maybe this kind of PLP where people are just taking a different approach to how you merchandise –

Brad: – Yeah –

Matt: – particularly top-level categories –

Brad: – Yes –

Matt: – Whereas it’s difficult to really know what the intent of the visitor is –

Brad: – Yeah and you’ve got such a big range as well and you’ve got like, you know, three, four, five hundred products in a particular category –

Matt: – Yeah, yeah –

Brad: – Erm, unless you’ve got, you know, a good merchandising platform which is taking into consideration lots of different factors. Erm, you know, you’re probably gonna get quite stagnated results within a category, so I think this really helps.

Matt: Yeah, I think it’s a really interesting way of doing it and I think, er, we’ll also start to see more of is, erm, I think, retailers introducing filtering in a way which is not obvious that it’s a filter. So, I’m asking questions in a more conversational way –

Brad: – Yeah, okay –

Matt: – Erm, where the result is ultimately you’re applying a filter but rather than, sort of, interacting with the filter blocks that are available in a, sort of, traditional filter journey it’s just done more conversationally and, yes, asking customers, sort of, real questions about, you know, ‘are you looking for this type of product or this type of product?’ and then that starts somebody down a filtering journey –

Brad: – I see, yeah, I see –

Matt: – But in a more approachable way –

Brad: – So, do you see the content place quite a big part in that then? In terms of assets and graphics on the site?

Matt: Yeah, I think so, I think it’s just much more about trying to interpret intent –

Brad: – Sure –

Matt:- Er, and is somebody looking to buy today or is somebody looking for inspiration? And they are much, er, easier, it’s easier to understand intent by asking real-life questions rather than necessarily sort of interacting with a colour, brand, size filter –

Brad: – Drop-down, yeah, yeah, yeah –

Matt: – Erm, yeah, we’re looking at this at the moment, particularly for us with occasions, so for Moss Bros obviously, occasions where it’s incredibly important for weddings or prom or whatever and it’s, I guess, it’s partly it’s about taking, you know, how you would be approached in store –

Brad: – Yeah

Matt: – Where, you know, our store colleagues wouldn’t ask you, you know, ‘what colour?’ –

Brad: – No –

Matt: – They’d say ‘what are you looking for a suit for?’ –

Brad: – Yeah, get that conversational piece, yeah –

Matt: – Yeah, that, I think, we’re gonna see a lot more of that kind of thing starting to emerge on sites and ultimately it’s about filtering products but it’s doing it in a much more approachable way than we’ve seen in traditional filter journeys.

Brad: Sure, sure. Cool, so, the third thing to talk about today is last-mile strategies, erm, quite a popular trend in our eCommerce world, lots of retailers are thinking about ‘how do we improve that process?’ which is basically where is the final leg of that eCommerce journey. It’s essentially where a customer has placed that order, is how that order gets from warehouse to the home in the most cost-effective, timely, erm, and productive way possible, essentially. So, within the UK we’re not particularly great at it to be honest with you, erm, considering we are quite small as a country, we’re not fantastic, there are certainly lots of things that can be done, erm, but like most things its cost and it’s that infrastructure around how it can be possible. So, there’s an interesting episode of ‘Beyond Today’ I listened to recently which is basically talking about how Amazon, erm, I think it was called ‘Is There Any Escape?’ (click here to have a listen) or something, the episode was called. It’s talking about how do Amazon try to not only change a kind of connected home, but also make it into, like, an open-door policy, so, where Amazon have full control over everything within your home, not only from the products that you’re buying but they try and tell you what they think should be in your home and then giving them access to even put it into your home. So, it’s like the whole ‘Amazon Pantry’ piece talking about not only things that you think you need but Amazon telling you ‘actually, you’ve run out of milk, so I’m gonna order you some, I’m gonna put in your fridge before you even thought about it’. That type of, I guess, thought process is what’s happening but in a smaller way. So, in the UK space obviously, erm there are some retailers that do really well, erm, what’s, kind of, Moss’ approach to last man delivery and how are you trying to get that process better?

Matt: Yeah, just first I’ll pick up on your point about Amazon, erm, Brad, I think their announcement of shipping with Amazon, so, you’re effectively taking a traditional courier approach allowing, you know, retailers like Moss Bros to use the Amazon logistics infrastructure, er, just to ship our own product that we’ve sold to our own site, to our customers, and I think is really interesting –

Brad: – Yeah –  

Matt: – Erm, they, you know, they tend to shake up markets that they go into, so, there’s no reason to expect that, erm, that leveraging and driving some further economy of scale into their own, erm, into their own logistics offering at the moment is not going to shake things up somewhat. It also, of course, allows them to collect a lot more data about who is buying what from whom, that they don’t currently have access to, whether we’ll look back on that as being a move that’s similar to when they launched ‘Marketplace’ and suddenly got this, you know, wealth of transaction data that they didn’t have previously and how transformational that was to Amazon as a retailer.

Brad: So, that’s it for another episode of the ‘e-Commerce Catch-Up’, thanks to Matt, ever hosting us at Moss HQ, it’s been good to be here. If you have any comments, leave them below, er, feel free to subscribe and give the video a ‘like’. Thank you very much and see you again, bye!

Matt: Bye!

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