How UK Retailers are Managing Their Digital Expansion?

Stuart Barker
Stuart Barker,
Portfolio Director, IRX

The UK’s e-commerce market is expected to continue to expand, with a forecast growth rate from 2019 to 2023 of 5.9 percent. As a result eCommerce businesses are rapidly growing their offering and expanding distribution in order to meet demand. Global retail businesses are set to share the stories of their growth at the conference within IRX (InternetRetailing Expo), the UK’s no. 1 digital retail show.

Customer and Employee Engagement

Growth has to be carefully handled within the business as Alice Tomkinson, Head of Customer Experience at Instantprint, will explain in her IRX conference session ‘Culture, change and agility: providing excellent customer experience in a fast-growing digital business’.

Alice has been driving the brand’s high focus on customer experience since October 2018, when the company undertook a massive transformation to a digital customer service operation. The team grew quickly to 30 people in just 12 months so change management – helping the team to adapt and remain engaged – was top of Alice’s to-do list.

Alice warns: “If businesses grow quickly, the customer experience can crumble, and we worked hard to ensure that this wasn’t the case.”

One of the ways in which the business changed was that the artwork team became customer-facing. This was in direct response to customer feedback – they wanted a direct line to the team working on their order. The increase in customer-focused staff resulted in the introduction of ‘customer experience champions’ across the business, to ensure everyone had an awareness of customer requirements.

The business growth was managed carefully to ensure the staff remained engaged and motivated. A recent employee satisfaction survey shows an increase, with staff feeling confident that their opinions are heard and directly inform the business.

Alice says: “It may be no surprise to learn that we’ve seen a direct correlation between employee satisfaction and customer satisfaction. We have developed our customer satisfaction monitoring and now measure customer effort too. Both the customer and our team rate how much effort a customer has had to put in in order to place an order, find further info or achieve a resolution. Broadly speaking, the less effort the customer puts in, the happier they are.”

IRX 2020 LogoBlending Local with Global

Growth is about offering consumer choice. That’s according to Philip Knight, VP eCommerce, at SharkNinja, who manufactures and sells cleaning and kitchen appliances. Philip, who will discuss ‘Preparing for growth – a 360, global and local view of digital expansion’ at his IRX conference session, explains: “Our growth plans serve to give the customer even more product choice – it’s here than innovation is key so we can keep designing products to meet consumers’ evolving needs.”

SharkNinja has big plans for global growth. They’re launching into Germany this year as well as France, Italy and Spain. The company is also expanding its distributor model to enable expansion into the Nordics. This expansion necessitates a fine balance between the global with the local –achieving global standards through local deployment.

Local outreach is tailored to reflect the different needs of each country and also the different stages of development. Philips says: “It’s down to each county manage to determine how the global standards are deployed in the country through tailored marketing messages, USPs, even taking into account the different competitors.”

This tailoring informs which products are promoted and how they are promoted. Philips explains: “For example, cylinder vacuums are popular in Germany whereas, in the UK, upright vacuum cleaners are popular. The different look of people’s homes from one country to another, the different types of food they eat, how the food is prepared, etc needs to be reflected across relevant marketing material.”

What does remain consistent, however, are the key messages for each of SharkNinja’s products – and for the brand as a whole. Philip explains: “When it comes to marketing, we use a variety of different channels depending on the country and demographic. However, it’s important for us to maintain consistency. We have a key set of messages that remain the same across all channels to ensure that our brand and values are instantly recognisable.”

The experience of these retailers gives valuable insight into how eCommerce businesses are expanding. This expansion is set to continue. It is certain that online shopping in the UK will continue to grow rapidly, as consumer shopping trends and convenience continue to shape the retail industry.

IRX (InternetRetailing Expo) – the UK’s no. 1 digital retail show – takes place 1 & 2 April 2020 at the NEC, Birmingham. It’s free to register at


About Author: Going for growth: Stuart Barker, Portfolio Director for IRX, shares insight from UK retailers on how they are managing their digital expansion.