Redefining Online Grocery with Multichannel Retailing

Salmon and OgilvyOne redefine online grocery

Redefining online grocery

Omni-channel. Multi-channel. Everywhere Commerce. Whatever you call it, the seamless integration of end-to-end experiences across multiple channels to delight customers is the prize, and the biggest untapped opportunity lies with online grocery. A multi-channel solution to online grocery shopping, synched to the rhythms of daily activity, is the best way to play a more meaningful and valuable role in customers’ lives.


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Commerce 4.0 – Devices, Data and Decision Time

Wearable Technology

2014 marks the 25th anniversary of the invention of the World Wide Web. The web has disrupted the way we carry out many aspects of our lives, from socialising, to watching TV, banking and shopping and has led to the demise of some brands, the rise of others.

The creative use of web technology has shaped commerce; online commerce sales are set to increase by 20% this year to reach $1.5 trillion globally.[i] As we stand at the start of a fourth wave of online commerce, the challenge for today’s brands is to ensure their customers have a seamless experience.

Consider the journey so far:

  • Commerce 1.0 saw the first generation of web shops that were based on the real world and extended the product range through virtual shelves. Brands took their traditional sales model and ported it to the web.
  • Commerce 2.0 incorporated rich content – such as video and user generated content, social networking and web applications – into the selling process. Brands started to link physical assets like stores with their digital assets.
  • Commerce 3.0 is all about the proliferation of non-PC devices and globalisation. Brands are integrating digital fully into their physical stores.
  • Commerce 4.0 will be driven by the ‘internet of things’, advanced use of data and analytics and a battle for control of the shopping basket between retailers and branded manufacturers.


Empowered, demanding and digitally savvy consumers expect to research and buy goods anywhere, anytime using any device or touchpoint and to have a seamless experience. Brands need to be confident they can meet their customers’ expectations of convenience, recognition, service and immediacy.

Successful brands will be those that manage to tie all of this together seamlessly, connect with their customers at a physical place or in the virtual world and get the products quickly to wherever they want to receive them. And the range of devices is increasing fast. Brands will need to consider the impact of the ‘internet of things’ (the network of physical objects with embedded technology, like in-car sensors and wearable technology).

Gartner predicts that there will be 26 billion such devices in 2020 compared with 7.3 billion smartphones, tablets and PCs in use at that time.[ii] We’re at the early stages of this but its easy to see what some of the commerce applications might be. Volvo, for example, is testing a smart car that can give delivery firms access to the trunk, via a single use digital key.

I have a Fitbit wristband that tracks the distance I walk each day, calories eaten and used, weight and sleep patterns. I’d be very happy if this could be seamlessly linked to my chosen supermarket to easily re-order food and to be reminded when I’m likely to run out of an item. Some days, I’d even like to be alerted if I try to order the double chocolate chip cookies when I’m shopping, instead of the fruit salad. Other days I might choose to switch off such alerts.


One of the keys to enabling a seamless experience is effective exploitation of data. However, with 2.5 billion gigabytes created each day[iii], the challenge for brands is using it to derive insight and most importantly, acting on that insight. With a burgeoning list of data sources (back-office systems, stores, call centers, value chain partners, email, mobile, rich media, user-generated content, social media) many businesses are overwhelmed by the scale of the challenge.

Effective use of data can give brands a competitive advantage. Analysis of data will, for example, show how customers are using which devices and at what stages in their shopping journey, and will highlight barriers to purchase. Building a single customer view and using that to develop customer segments and to tailor communications will help brands offer a seamless experience. And if done right, will shorten sales cycles, and increase consumer engagement, loyalty and revenue.

And just think what additional data will be available from my Fitbit wristband, other wearable technology and all the new devices with embedded sensors. As long as I receive useful and enjoyable communications and have the option to opt out at any time, then I’d be happy to link this to specific applications and receive personalised communications.

Decision Time

2014 is a turning point in the struggle between Amazon, retailers and FMCG/CPG manufacturers for control of the consumers’ shopping basket as Amazon continues to expand its offering, particularly in grocery. Outside footwear and apparel, FMCG/CPG manufacturers have been trialing ecommerce but have yet to make big inroads into the direct to consumer market. Amazon’s continued expansion of its grocery offering should be a massive wake-up call to any supermarket or FMCG/CPG manufacturer not selling online. It’s Decision Time.

Manufacturers can embrace direct to consumer commerce without alienating retail partners, by for example, offering exclusives, subscription services, niche or customised products, different pack sizes etc. While there are many ways to get to market quickly, it’s also important to think strategically so that new offerings link up to existing ones seamlessly, that data and intellectual property is retained within the company and that strong foundations are in place for future growth.

Technology has always been disruptive and transformative. 25 years on from the birth of the web, brands need to harness the power of technology to offer consumers the seamless experience we all crave.

To deliver a seamless commerce experience, brands need to think about:

End-to-end experience – it’s easy just to focus on the customer experience at the different touchpoints, however this overlooks the end-to-end experience, which can be different. Brands should nominate a member of staff to ‘own’ a particular end-to-end journey, aiming to reduce customer struggle and improve the whole experience.

Data and analytics – it’s increasingly important that brands bring data sources together to develop a single customer view. This can provide an in-depth understanding of shoppers; whether it be the reason for their last purchase, personal preferences or which devices they use for which stage of their shopping journey. And most importantly, it can be used to develop customer segments, tailor their experience, promotion or content and to improve future business processes.

Infrastructure – to deliver a consistent and personalized experience and track interaction in order to react in real-time, brands need to choose platforms and technology components that can be centrally configured and managed to support all channels and devices.

(Originally published in  2014 BrandZTM Top 100 Most Valuable Global Brands)





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GAME Digital launches IPO after 213% online sales increase

GAME Digital launched its IPO on Friday, valuing the business at £340m.  This was exciting news for Salmon because we have worked with GAME since 2011 and played a key role in developing their online proposition.

Under new ownership and management since April 2012, GAME has successfully completed a significant restructuring and implemented a number of initiatives designed to position them for long-term growth. GAME now operates an omni-channel model with 560 stores in the UK and Spain, eCommerce and mCommerce channels and an award-winning UK app.  

Over Christmas 2013, GAME was the biggest growth story in UK retail – with store sales up by 90% and online sales up by 213%. The retailer said at the time that improvements to its website, mobile site and the introduction of a new app had driven online sales, as had the extension of its trade-in offer to online customers.

GAME Digital chief executive Martyn Gibbs, said on Friday: “GAME Digital is a profitable and cash generative business with a great team, strong supplier partnerships and exciting digital growth opportunities. These fundamentals have enabled us to attract high-quality investors who we welcome into our business.”

Gibbs has previously said, that while they have no plans to expand stores further overseas, GAME could launch its digital offer in other countries. “There are opportunities with our web platform and our digital architecture. There’s nothing to stop us looking there in the long term.”

We’re proud to have played a part in GAME’s omni-channel transformation and look forward to their continued success. If you’d like to read more about our work, you can find details here.


Game Digital web site

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Salmon Wins 2014 IBM Award for Outstanding Smarter Commerce Solution

See Martin Girdlestone picking up Salmon’s award and talking about the reasons why Salmon were selected by IBM.

Salmon has been named winner of the 2014 IBM Beacon Award for Outstanding Smarter Commerce Solution.  This honour has been awarded to Salmon for delivering exceptional solutions that drive business value and transform the way their clients do business.

“This year’s Beacon Award winners are Business Partners who have truly demonstrated their ability to develop new, advanced approaches to solving challenges while also transforming the way their clients and industries conduct business,” said Marc Dupaquier, general manager, IBM Global Business Partners. “We’re honoured to recognise Salmon for winning the Beacon Award for Outstanding Smarter Commerce Solution and consistently delivering value to our mutual clients.”


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How to choose the right eCommerce platform for B2C and B2B customers

Back in 2013 Salmon helped DFS, Britain’s biggest, most well-known sofa retailer, implement a new multichannel platform and relaunch  Last week DFS and Curtis Furniture launched their first B2B website  The site was developed relatively easily and quickly by building it as an extended site on the same WebSphere Commerce-based platform as

What’s great is that DFS have been able to target a different kind of customer with a customised website while sharing data assets such as catalogue information between the two sites, resulting in business efficiencies in site management effort and a reduction in data management issues.

Russell Harte, Head of Multichannel Development & Delivery at DFS said: “Our investment in the last 18 months with Salmon, in replatforming our website to support and now launching is paying dividends.  We are really pleased with the progress we have made with online unique visitors growing by 36% in the last year and some great trading results; we hope DFS Contract will follow in its footsteps.” More here.

In research last year, 62% of B2B companies said that finding the right technology to support eCommerce was a key issue.

So what should you look for in an eCommerce platform to support both B2B and B2C customers?

  • A solution that is sophisticated and yet flexible
  • Supports multiple channels, web, mobile, tablet, social and stores/branches
  • Has the ability to run multiple sites from a single infrastructure and team
  • Supports your business and your partners’ business globally
  • Allows you to launch additional eCommerce sites for new brands, countries or business models quickly
  • Allows you to manage the site operations with one set of tools
  • Supports various B2B business models, different buying behaviours and management authorisation levels
  • Supports multiple pricing requirements i.e. customer specific, partner specific pricing
  • Has the ability to manage orders, pricing, and quotes online
  • Has strong order management capability to manage selling through to fulfilment between customers, suppliers and partners
  • Has sophisticated marketing and merchandising tools

dfscontract_co_uk screenshot

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Delivering world-class commerce experiences

As consumers, we are empowered, demanding, and increasingly digitally savvy. We expect to research and purchase our goods anywhere, anytime and via any channel or device. We expect to be able to choose when and where we receive purchases—whether it’s on our doorsteps or over the counter at the brick-and-mortar version of the store from which we purchased them. Finally, we expect to be continually recognized and valued for our business.

Brands know that keeping up with those consumer expectations is increasingly challenging. Behind every customer’s commerce experience lies a plethora of processes, systems, services, and data that need designing, integrating, testing, and supporting.

This is the everyday reality facing CMOs and CIOs who are grappling with how to deliver world-class commerce experiences. The winners will be those who:

1.    Adjust to changing consumer behavior

The way customers behave is evolving rapidly, partly due to a mix of progressive disruption, rates of new-technology adoption, advances in science, and new sources of competition. Consumer research is still an effective way to lend an ear to their immediate needs, but it’s not enough on its own. Consumers can’t predict what they’re going to want next month or next year. Capturing data is key to tracking trends, but acting quickly on those trends is even more important.

2.    Get to market quickly

Unless you’re a start-up business, you’ll have a wealth of “heritage” processes, data, and systems. In order to deliver a seamless commerce experience, all of these things will need to be connected to various critical web components. This can be time-consuming, risky, and complex. Aim to develop and implement in small steps rather than taking a big-bang approach. Successful brands, instead, tend to chip away, using pilot programs for smaller initiatives to gain feedback quickly. And where long projects are unavoidable, businesses enmeshed in Continuous Commerce™ continue to deliver incremental change in parallel. It’s as much about thinking tactically as it is strategically these days.

3.    Differentiate

In a crowded and competitive market, connecting digital technologies with physical stores and real people is key to successful differentiation. In the UK, Argos was the first to connect website and store inventory by launching a “Click & Collect” service in 2000. This has since been widely imitated globally, but at the time this wasn’t an obvious move because the industry was obsessed with dotcom businesses and home delivery. Figure out what’s unique about your business, and how digital and physical can be combined differently, and how to optimize assets you already own, and make them work hard for you.

4.    Deliver round the clock

Lots of the systems and processes underpinning an “always-on” commerce experience aren’t actually always on in the sense that they don’t operate 24/7/365. This won’t do. Brands need to face up to changing working practices and business processes, finding suppliers and services that can support uninterrupted service and creating workarounds for any IT system restrictions.

5.    Get global, and personal

We are fast becoming global consumers. We travel frequently for work and pleasure. We live in different countries from friends and family. We bring back new products and tastes and want to continue relationships with overseas brands, and yet we still like to be treated as individuals, acknowledged and rewarded for our business. Winning brands will use data and technology to deliver functionally rich, immersive and personalized experiences that are relevant to our needs, and that support our globetrotting exploits and continue to earn our loyalty.

6.    Choose the right service provider and technologies

The cost of services for an eCommerce program is many times the cost of the technology, so it’s critical that brands choose the right partners to help in their quest for success. Top brands choose partners that can help shape commerce strategy, define road maps, choose technologies, deliver commerce programs, and manage ongoing support. A partner can also coordinate the many third parties involved in a Continuous Commerce™ program.

Technology can do amazing things, but it’s what you do with it that counts. How brands bring together technology, people, geography, customer service, and user experience today will dictate tomorrow’s commerce winners—and ensure the bar remains high for the competition.

[This article was originally published as part of commerce@Ogilvy's Continuous Commerce™ series here.]

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The future of video is short

Back in 2011 we discussed how the use of online video was booming. Early adopters of the medium, particularly in ecommerce, were starting to reap the rewards of using it as part of their brand and content strategies.

The intervening years have done nothing to dent the power and reach of online video and the trends we noted at the time have continued apace. But a pesky little thing called social media has dramatically altered the face of digital content in recent years. Just when brands were getting their heads around using video to engage customers and increase conversions, along comes the concept of shareable, ‘social’ content. It’s no longer enough to put your heavily produced million pound TV advert onto YouTube and expect it to ‘go viral’ (unless you’re John Lewis of course), or add your corporate-comms produced 20-minute long history of the company video to Facebook, sit back and wait for the ‘likes’ to drip in.

Clever brands need to look at where their customers are playing and engage with them there, with the content they want to consume. Recent research from Forrester[1] has found that “emerging short-form social video platforms, such as Instagram and Vine, have a combined global reach closing in on 200 million users and growing quickly,”, and “apps with short-form video functionality are one of the next places into which we can expect to see brands making forays.”

For brands still mired in traditional marketing techniques, short-form video has its pitfalls. Creating an account on either Instagram or Vine isn’t enough.

In the research referenced above, Forrester’s James McDavid gives some sage advice for those wishing to give short-form video a go:

  • Keep content snappy and on brand
  • Build a consumer path for continuous engagement
  • Make use of the built-in social functionality to facilitate two-way communication

In other words, keep it simple and utilise the power of these emerging platforms rather than trying to reinvent the wheel or be overly clever. Brands need to think about what their customers want and need, not what they want to tell them. There’s so much choice out there people will soon abandon ship if they’re not being offered some value. And marketers must also remember these are social channels, which means they need to be sociable…

The idea of encapsulating brand messaging, business needs, customer needs and satisfying your CEO in 15 seconds of video may be terrifying for some. But pre-2006 who’d have thought some brands would be making great strides with brand engagement in less than 140 characters or less? Twitter is a fine example of using short form content for brand and customer engagement.

We’re likely to see some great content, and some poor content on channels like Instagram and Vine over the next few years as brands take their first tentative steps into the short-form world. It’s likely the more savvy marketers will look into how short-form videos can become more interactive and how brand communications can be augmented with user generated content to provide a completely immersive experience for the customer.

If you’d like help with content strategy or management, then please Contact Us now.

[1] Delivering Brand Engagement With Short-Form Social Videos,Forrester Research, Inc., September 2013. By James McDavid, with Luca S Paderni and Emily Kwan.

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Salmon wins worldwide IBM Beacon Award

We are delighted to announce that Salmon has won the 2014 worldwide IBM Beacon Award for Outstanding Smarter Commerce Solution.  Presented to us at the IBM PartnerWorld Leadership Conference in Las Vegas this week for delivering exceptional solutions that drive business value and transform the way our clients do business.

Selected by leading industry influencers and IBM executives from among hundreds of nominations, IBM’s Beacon Awards recognise IBM Business Partners who have demonstrated business excellence in delivering IBM-based solutions resulting in client transformation and business growth.

Neil Stewart, CEO at Salmon said, “As a recipient of this distinguished award, Salmon has clearly set itself apart for delivering innovative business solutions and client satisfaction.  This achievement recognises our efforts to deliver commerce services and solutions that help our clients increase sales and deliver personalised user experiences via today’s digital channels.” Stewart continued, “In 2014 we will continue to focus on helping our clients develop their commerce strategies, delivering world-class commerce platforms that underpin their business and support their digital transformation.”

Award Photo DSC_0749

Find the full press release here

For more information about the IBM Beacon Awards, including information about winners and finalists, please click here.


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It’s time for brands to establish their own ecommerce sites in China

As China celebrate the new year, we look at the opportunity for global brands to launch their own B2C ecommerce sites in China. Happy New Year !

There’s a Chinese proverb that says, “I hear and I forget; I see and I remember; I do and I understand.” It’s a useful reminder for brands that are reviewing the burgeoning Chinese ecommerce market and considering their next move. There’s been much conjecture about both the pitfalls and merits of ecommerce in China. Brands have been able to dip their toes in the marketplace from afar, assessing ecommerce viability via established commerce platforms and online marketplaces such as Taobao, Pai Pai and Tmall. Yet to truly understand the Chinese consumer and the digital economy it’s time for brands to go further. As the proverb suggests, it’s imperative that brands “do” business in China to genuinely “understand” ecommerce in China. As such, it is time that leading brands launch their own B2C ecommerce sites.

Brands in China are still witnessing an ecommerce marketplace in its infancy. But the infant is big and growing fast. China ended 2012 with 242 million online shoppers, a year-on-year increase of almost 25 percent, according to China Internet Network Information Center (CNNIC), a government source. In other words, China’s ecommerce audience is larger than the population of almost every other country, but it’s less than one-fifth of China’s population of over 1.3 billion.

These are enticing numbers. However, it’s important to understand that this isn’t simply a gold rush where every brand will be successful due to a huge population and hockey stick shaped ecommerce adoption rates. A backdrop of complex cultural, political and geographic factors requires understanding. Brands can’t hope to expand (or enter) the Chinese e-commerce market without giving serious consideration to their strategy, technical infrastructure and the means by which they aim to execute effectively locally.

Beyond the hype and statistics that surround ecommerce in China, how should brands begin to exploit the ecommerce opportunity in China? Here are my tips aimed for brands looking to successfully deliver their own direct ecommerce presence in China.

1.     Be aware that existing ecommerce “rules” most likely won’t apply.

Getting the right products to the right customers at the right time and for the right price is not peculiar to ecommerce in China. But ecommerce is different in China. Around 50 percent of the country’s population lives in rural areas. It will take many years and several transitions for the economy to become consumer-led and for the income gap between rich and poor to shrink significantly. Because the ecommerce landscape is changing so rapidly in China, be super analytical in your ecommerce operations straight away. Start gathering and acting on consumer data immediately.

2.     Build trust.

Against a backdrop of fake products, fake stores and replica labels there is widespread mistrust and a fear of counterfeiting and fraud. This is in contrast to a general appetite and appreciation for prestige brands. Therefore, develop a channel strategy that embraces China’s existing and popular commerce platforms, even as you develop your own direct presence. Use every conceivable means and sales channel to build trust for your brand with potential buyers.

3.     Deliver first-class service.

Chinese mainland middle-class consumers are concerned with product and service quality rather than prices, according to a survey conducted by the Hong Kong Trade Development Council. Implement interactive live help functions and integrate contact center tools with your ecommerce platform and operations from day one. Be certain to ensure that your customer services span browse, payment, shipping and post-sales support.

4.     Organize marketing, sales and logistics to reach the full market.

It’s estimated that 75 percent of China’s affluent middle class lives in so-called lower tier, smaller cities. These are places that most people outside of China haven’t heard of, but whose populations are large. There are over 175 cities in China with more than one million people. Often residents cannot gain access to the brands they crave, other than via the Internet; so they increasingly shop online. And they expect fast delivery of goods. So get your mix of logistic and fulfillment partnerships spot on, including cross-border delivery networks and local delivery partners.

5.     While thinking globally, act locally. Maximize cultural integration.

To reach a global audience, many brands are using Chinese spokespersons in their wider marketing communications; Nike’s sponsorship of champion hurdler Liu Xiang being an obvious example. But brands should ensure their technology decisions support local culture and local buying behavior as well. For instance, payment preferences are very different, with Alipay, Union Pay and also cash-on-delivery prevalent. Additionally, locate sites inside the China firewall for access and performance benefits. Lean on local service providers that have access to China’s e-commerce ecosystem and have them ensure you have the appropriate legal authorization and licensing in place. Be aware of China’s content and filtering regulations too.

6.     Develop a differentiated customer experience.

Tailor the ecommerce experience for Chinese shoppers. Adoption of multichannel and cross-channel shopping is low compared to the US and Europe, so innovative experiences should be built around mobile and social. Brands in China are experiencing rapid mobile and social ecommerce growth trajectories. China still has a relatively poor Internet infrastructure and both filtering and monitoring are widespread. Brands should seek service providers with a strong blend of technology specialists, online traders and online marketing experts.

First published in BrandZ Top 100 Most Valuable Chinese Brands 2014

BrandZ Top 100 Most Valuable Chinese Brands

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Salmon enhance Halfords customer experience with new digital platform

Salmon teams have been pedaling fast to complete the latest overhaul to Halfords existing website, which marks the next phase in the leading retailer’s strategy to drive growth online and to its portfolio of more than 460 stores nationwide.

Halfords new website

The redesign further enhances the customer experience and has been deployed across the .com and .ie websites, plus mobile and tablet optimised sites, in less than six months.

Offering 30,000 product lines, the website holds Halfords’ most comprehensive range, directs many customers into stores for service delivery and captures information used across the business.

Halfords Digital Director, Clive West said:  Our new website represents a real commitment to Halfords online offer.  More and more of our customers want to use the web as part of their purchasing trip with us.  We’ve consulted extensively with them and believe the improvements we’ve made will increase the ease and enjoyment of shopping with

Neil Stewart, CEO at Salmon said: “With a very tight deadline for this project, the Salmon and Halfords team have delivered a huge amount of work in a short space of time.  This has only been possible due to our innovative ways of working and the team’s commitment to delivering for the client.  I am pleased to say that this has allowed us to deliver the new site on-time, on-budget and Halfords to achieve their business objectives.”

So what’s new, and leading to a much happier shopper experience? now features:

  • Inspirational visuals
  • A no-fuss layout and easier navigation, simplified into four key pillars: Cycling; Motoring; SatNav and Audio; Camping and Touring, with a different shopping experience across all four
  • A new streamlined checkout with fifty per cent less checkout steps
  • Integration with Google Maps
  • More products, less text and only the key features while shopping
  • A much more friendly, engaging and informative “voice”, reflected in text alerts and emails, 4,500 product description and 50 advice articles have been rewritten
  • 170 product videos and 50 new How To videos have been added and optimised for tablet viewing
  • Simplified the customer proposition so that ALL orders placed online for collection at one of Halfords stores can be paid for in-store, instead of only some of them, combining products which are stocked in-store with items coming from the distribution centre or courier deliveries

The full press release can be found here  and details of Salmon’s other work with Halfords can be found here.

Some other interesting facts about Halfords:

Online Halfords product range is in total around three times larger than their superstores with around 10,000 product lines in stores, increasing to around 30,000 lines online.

Halfords latest Half Yearly Profits, show Pre-tax profits rose 5.2% to £44.6m for the six months to 27 September, with total sales up 7.7% to £490.6m. Online Retail revenues grew by 16.9% and represented 11.5% of total Retail sales (H1 FY13: 10.5%).  A consistent 88% of online orders were collected in store during the period. More here

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