I visited the eCommerce expo in London in September 2022 and I have reviewed my experience. I give some tips on show attendance. There is certainly an appetite for investment by online retailers.
To the exhibitors.
These split into 3 sizes.
- the gold dust is at the edges of the hall where there was lots of new tech exhibiting web summit style. Lots of really exciting products and some nice little niches being explored.
- the mid size stands.
- Shipping and fulfilment solutions, all claiming to do everything. Link with any platform or market place, link with any shipper and automate the lot.
- Personalisation of online experience
- Packaging companies
- Product Photography solutions
- Larger Digital Agencies
- AI shopping solutions
- Fraud and Chargeback solutions.
- Large Stands / Pagodas
- All the Large Saas Ecommerce Brands
- Payment Providers
- Shippping Logistic Solutions
- Some new ecommerce omnichannel management platforms
- “Auto” Lead generation platforms – ( its a bit old hat now guys ) .
The gold dust on the edges in no particular order.
- Price comparison and scraping tools. Some are scraping stock levels too – detecting when competitors are out or low on stock. Ethical or not ? We would see alot of scraper traffic on client sites so its common. Price Trakker
- GA4 simplification tools. Ga4 is not the same as old GA and you need a specialist to set it up correctly and interpret it. So there are interfaces being built to make this simpler. UPP are creating interfaces for this. It has some clever tools for finding niches in your ad spend. Certainly a good tool for ecommerce with lots of SKU’s.
- Pricing Intelligence from 7 learnings, interesting software developed in a college incubator in Berlin. Data science for a very reasonable cost. 7learnings.com
- Auto Funnel Creation Tools – this is pretty smart. Creating a funnels is slow and time consuming. Truth is most will create say 20 and let the rest of the product on it own. So this tool is automating this by getting your traffic – yours sales and your GA4 data and finding opportunities in your product set to exploit. Profitero
- Beautiful Invoice compliant invoice creation for shopify. There is a large element of compliance in an invoice and this usually results in an ugly looking document. Its been a bug bear of mine that online stores gloss up the selling and checkout experience and then send you a order confirmation that looks like it was printed on a ribbon printer from 1980. It is such a branding faux pas. Sufio is the dev company making this plugin.
- Fast Video content creation – aimed to be canva for video. 60seconds
- AdPolice – german company running brand protection by running infringement reports on adwords, online stores etc.
- RayGun – Service that detects errors in real time running of your ecommerce site. Based on the premise that most customers will not be bothered to tell you they abandoned because of an error. They claim their software will detect and report the errors in real time with details right down to the line of code. A product that would be useful for new site deployments.
- Venga.AI a cross selling AI tool for shopify stores. USP is that the cross sell is after the checkout using the last checkout details to quickly add and pay. Clever idea.
Ecommerce is a technical data driven business and those providing solutions that help ecommerce business owners uncover hidden gems in their business are an easy sell. If the tools work, they pay for themselves very quickly but the competitive edge of them is short lived as the provider has to sell more of the service.
There are quite a few new ecommerce monster platforms out there that seem to have alot of investment money. I generally find these are 1 hit wonders and will not be seen again. One thing they had in common was they were all claiming to do everything from building a website to listing on market places, logistics, tax, shipping, returns, warehouse management, PIM etc etc. There is a place in the market for these platforms but the issue is every business’s requirements are different and these are never plug and play packages that can be up and running in a few hours. Deployments like this take months and years to roll out. All of their demos were based on very simple selling of clothes. Impossible to judge a platform based on very light demo data. Dont fall into the trap.
The exception to this would be Akeeno the opensource PIM platform developed by the authors of Magento. Notably they were sharing a pagoda with 8 other software providers. Its like the formed a co-op type setup which is an interesting concept for large application developments done by small teams. This maybe the way for small software developers to exhibit in the middle of the floor rather than at the edges. Although that would kill off my exhibition visiting technique.
The presentations that I attended were all thinly veiled sales pitches. Some were quite poor and this really surprised me. Speaking halls were in the middle of the floor and had the feeling of floor fillers. Very difficult to hear the presenters above the noise. This The organisers would do well to cop on to the fact that quality content is what attendees are after. That is what makes them return. All retailers want to hear are tips and tricks and whats trending from other retailers. They don’t want to hear about another payment provider or a presentation from an expensive logistics provider. This is the work of ecommerce consultants to examine and comment on the offerings in the market and present these to our clients – it saves them time. Spot the thinly veiled sales pitch 😉
Notable absentees were the marketplaces which is surprising, considering all the publicity and trending that they are getting. So either they are too busy to attend, see no value in a trade show or its a kind of a hype thing. I have my views on Marketplaces and the rush by companies onto them because their competitor is doing it. To me its the thinning of margins and a vanity turnover.
Another notable absence was B2B e-commerce solutions and specialist platforms. The reason for this is that the sector is busy, the software vendors do not require a show to get leads they use other channels.
The show was really busy on the wednesday and the thursday was flat according to the exhibitors. Second days of shows tend to be flatter as the personnel usually have run out of gas from day one and have zero energy for day 2. Moral of the story always attend day 1 if you like a crowded busy hall. Day 2 is better for having longer conversations. Typically at these shows the conversations are short and you are setting up appointments for a demo at a later date.
This years show was held in the Excel in London which is a much better venue then Olympia from previous years. Normally there are other complimentary shows on at the same time and you can visit these. This year there was only the 1 show albeit with 2 differently branded entrances !
If you are attending events in the excel – London City Airport is 20 mins walk from the Excel. You will have this years show done in about 3-4 hours. So its perfect for a day visit from overseas.
Author Sean Owens : head of ecommerce at granite digital – the largest digital agency in Ireland.