Ecomm Live Belfast

Founder Sessions: Transforming Pharmacy Retail - Oonagh O’Hagan Unveils Meaghers’ Success Story

Shifting Focus from Illness to Wellness 

A key driver behind Meagher’s success story is the company's ambition to move away from reacting to illnesses to focusing on preventative care. By turning the Meagher's team into thought leaders who can help educate patients and develop niche wellness products and services, Meagher's have carved out their brand values. 

Prioritising Innovation and Customer Focus

Meagher's launched a digital doctor, digital physio, and other digital services when they saw the demand throughout the pandemic. By keeping the customer as its focus island using data to make customer-centric decisions, they can stay agile and compete against major competitor players such as Boots and Lloyd’s.

Customer Retention Over Constant Acquisition

By focusing on customer retention strategies such as rewards programmes and ‘surprise and delight’ moments, they build long term relationships with their customers who will keep coming back again and again.

Oonagh O'Hagan - Ecomm Live Belfast 2024


Founder Session: Founders Unplugged - Life and Business Insights from Ecommerce Pioneers with Colin Christie, Managing Director of Christie’s Ltd, Will Kennedy, Co-Founder & CEO of Sons and Peter Dunlop, Managing Director,

Navigating Choppy Waters

Both Colin(Christie’s Ltd) and Peter ( emphasised how they both faced fluctuating markets at times in their business journeys and needed to be agile. Whether through a financial crash or global pandemic, their stories highlighted the importance of sticking with their own strategy, not chasing competitors or imitating their actions and being able to adjust supply chains to maintain profitability.

Customer Expectations

The panel highlighted that there is a rise in customer expectations and therefore marketing strategies. To remain competitive there is a need from businesses to deliver on faster delivery, competitive pricing but also engaging online strategies. While some of the panelists have seen the transition from brick and mortar stores to online stores, and others being solely an online store from the inception, all panelists could see how having an omnichannel presence can hold value providing seamless experiences to meet customers expectations.

Oli Hills Ecomm Live Belfast 2024

Using all of TikTok’s Features to Generate Impact for your Business - Oli Hills

Audience Focus

Success on TikTok is based on your ability to understand your audience. Many users believe that they can stay generic with their TikTok content in hope that it will then appeal to wider audiences however the opposite is True. High production videos are not essential when you are speaking to the correct audience. Focus on authentic voice, grabbing their attention early - no millennial pause - and using the relevant keywords, hashtags and captions to hook viewers early. 

TikTok Shop

Of course, no TikTok talk could pass without discussing TikTok Shop. This feature has made headlines all over the world over the last two years. Although it is still to be rolled out through most of Europe, it is already released in the UK, where speaker Oli Hill’s agency is based. Oli discussed the opportunities that selling directly through TikTok offers. Businesses can upload products, tag them in videos and even enable a checkout so people can in just a few clicks. Oli also discussed the various strategic approaches to a successful TikTok shop including incorporating bundles and offers and collaborating with influencers. 

Influencers for Engagement

Traditionally, follower count was seen as the most important metric when it comes to influencers. However, Oli emphasised that when it comes to finding the perfect influencer for your brand, average views per video is far more valuable. This gives a real insight into which influencers resonate with their audience. Another key takeaway is to empower the chosen influencers. Many brands make the mistake of providing overly-scripted guidelines to the influencers. It is important to trust the influencers to create content that aligns with the audience's preference and trust your research in your influencer choice.  Finally,  if you are looking for further exposure to your content, Spark Ads offers a powerful way to amplify the reach of high-performing organic content.

Slendertone: Lessons Learned Relaunching an Ecommerce Brand with Gordon Newman

A 50-Year-Old Brand

Slendertone is a 50-year-old Irish brand and was once a market leader in muscle-toning devices. In the past, they have sold over 10 million units worldwide. However, the company that owned Slendertone fell into liquidation. Even with impressive brand awareness and the reputation of being a market leader in its industry it struggled. The previous approach relied on brand distribution, with offices in multiple countries. However, a saturated market presented new challenges for their direct-to-consumer (DTC) strategy. Rising customer acquisition costs across all sectors meant the ‘advertise everywhere’ approach was no longer effective. 

The New Slendertone Approach

With new ownership acquired in July 2022, a revised strategy was launched within a mere 6 weeks. This rapid turnaround involved a deep dive into customer needs, competitor analysis, and going back to basics with the marketing mix (4p’s) They have now embraced a new DTC+ approach, recognising the power of working with trusted partners to amplify their brand message. 

Sculpted by Aimee: Sculpting Success In Omnichannel Retail

Culture First, Strategy will Follow

Aimee highlighted the importance of a positive and collaborative company culture. She believes that if there is a strong team at the core of operations, a natural strategy will flourish from this. She believes that open communication and empowerment are the key aspects of her leadership style. 

From Frustration to Focus

Discussing the story behind the brand Sculpted by Aimee, Aimee relays that her vision was born out of a  desire to simplify makeup routines. She had grown tired of seeing an abundance of products being at the heart of all the online tutorials. She wanted to create something that was accessible but also effective for everyday routines. 

Omnichannel Strategy

The brand has seen a rapid growth including a 50% increase in staff, and the opening of a flagship store, however the focus still remains to understand the customer across their entire journey whether they interact with them online or in store. Aimee stressed the importance of first party data here as it was key to understanding her customer journey from both online and in store. 

Mastering Customer Retention Strategies: Strategies to drive repeat Purchases and Customer Loyalty with Pippa Casey, Head of Digital, Brown Thomas and Raine Peake, Interim Head of Ecomm and performance, New Look

New Look

New Look’s approach to customer retention is centred around a unified customer journey. They recognise that customers interact both in-store and online. If they want to drive loyalty they must be able to connect you in-store and online. This involves linking your email or contact details so that purchase history and preferences are available and also gives the customer a consistent experience across all touchpoints. 

Brown Thomas

Brown Thomas center their approach around their loyalty app. It was launched in 2018 and allows customers to connect their online and in-store experiences. It has features such as booking beauty appointments, viewing wishlists, and accrued points. Brown Thomas also found ways to make the app more interactive by adding ‘gamified features’ that will reward customers for things that are not just transactional such as leaving reviews. 

Shaws, Woodies, Select Group, Ecomm Live Belfast 2024

The Next Phase of Growth for Ecommerce with Caroline Coughlan , Head of Digital, Woodies, Andy Synnott, Head of Marketing and Communications, Select Group, Monika Podsadna, Ecommerce Manager, Shaws Department Store. 

Redefining Growth

For Shaws, they are just beginning their online growth phase having launched their store in 2022. But for Woodies and Select, they very much noticed that there was a change after the pandemic boom. This unprecedented shift towards online shopping meant that they needed to redefine how they looked at growth. It couldn’t be looked at just one total sales figure, it needed to be about building a sustainable model that focused on customer loyalty and retention also. One point was clear, regardless of digital maturity, all companies - from those starting out (like Shaws) to those further along (like Woodies and Select) - are shifting their growth focus. They're moving away from a one-size-fits all approach to a experience that prioritises personalisation and customer retention. 

Balancing Growth, Budget and Profitability

This panel discussion highlighted that there tends to be an overly focus on the Return from Ad Spend (ROAS) when it comes to discussing marketing budgets with CRO’s. There needs to be a deeper understanding to make informed decisions and that’s why collaborating across departments is crucial when it comes to designating budgets. This helps to foster a balanced approach between short-term gains and longer-term strategic initiatives. 

Unlimited Budget

To wrap up the panel discussion, the speakers were asked what they would do if they had an unlimited budget? For all, the answer was tech. Whether it was looking to branch out towards a wider social strategy involving TikTok or exploring the native brand app that could go beyond transactions all with the intention of expanding their growth avenues and fostering more engagements with their customers. 

Jamie Laing, Candy Kittens Ecomm Live Belfast 2024


Fireside Chat with Jamie Laing: Building Sweet Success with Candy Kittens

Jaime Laing, founder of Candy Kittens, emphasised during his talk at Ecomm Live the importance of treating your brand like a personality.  He believes in the power of storytelling and creating empathetic authentic content that resonates with your audience. This approach goes beyond simply promoting your products, it’s about building a connection with your customers. Laing acknowledged the initial boost Candy Kittens received due to his connection with the reality TV show ‘Made in Chelsea’ but he also mentioned that this can be a double-edged sword when it comes to brand perception. 

His key advice was to never stop talking about your brand and build excitement around your vision. 

T-shirts First, Product Second

Laing admitted that he wasn’t afraid to take risks. His company was founded on a budget of £3000. He admitted that they initially only had branded t-shirts before they even had a product to see. It wasn’t until a chance encounter on a date reconnected him to a candy maker who he had previously considered due to their reputation.

Adaptability at the Core

Candy Kittens initial strategy was to focus on impulse purchases at retail checkout. However, the pandemic changed this and the company had to adapt quickly in order to survive. This is when they pivoted to creating online content. The focus has always been on the power of storytelling and creating a sense of trust in the audience. His long term goal is to build a brand that he can hand down to the next generations.

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