8th Spectrum & Ardent eCommerce Leadership Dinner, September 2016

Spectrum’s 8th eCommerce Leadership Dinner took place on 26th September in London in association with Ardent Advisors, the corporate finance firm.

The roundtable dinner discussion began by examining the impact of the EU Referendum, and moved on to consider how the US presidential election might impact business.

The most notable discussions points were:

EU Referendum result – The Positives

  • Many view the result as a positive. MoneyWeek have termed the phrase ‘Brenaissance’
  • Collective company mentality is important; be positive and see the opportunities that the result presents – regardless of your personal view
  • Premium brands have done well since June 23rd. One luxury goods marketplace reported a sales uplift of 40% during July alone
  • The currency impact (the devaluation of Sterling) has had a positive impact on exports
  • Digital businesses enjoy some protection from the effects of the EU Referendum as their cost base is largely unaffected
  • Inward investment-based recruitment activity is up, as organisations for whom the UK is a big enough market in it’s own right can establish a direct British presence as lower cost now (due to currency movements)
  • M&A activity up for the same reason
  • Product prices remain unchanged

EU Referendum result – The Negatives

  • ‘Brexit’ is used as an easy excuse for underperformance and to de-invest
  • Brands that had not sufficiently ‘hedged’ currency had experienced some negative impact
  • Immediate negative impact on advertising spend, in particular from the US. A ‘wait and see’ mind set has been adopted following the uncertainty created by the Referendum result. This was however seen as a temporary glitch; “it’s coming back”
  • All online marketing is calculated and reported in US Dollars, so some negative currency-based impact there
  • Discretionary spend – such as training and events – immediately impacted

Despite the aforementioned, it should be noted that the UK has not, yet at least, exited the EU. There was some debate as to whether an exit would ever happen, and no real consensus on this point – the view in the room however being that this was not a foregone conclusion.

It was also noted that it was too early to call the real impact of the EU referendum; however, the political trend towards nationalism is clearly evident and is worrying. The debate then went on to consider the US presidential election.

The US Presidential Election – Key discussion points

  • In some circles, the Trumps are considered to be “the new Kennedys”
  • The Hillary Clinton campaign is “doing what the Remain camp did in the UK”
  • Terrorism is playing into the hands of Donald Trump

As is now the norm at these dinners, we went to the vote.

Previously, at our pre-referendum dinner we asked “Who expects the UK to vote to leave the EU”? Only two guests (a French national, and a German) believed the UK would vote to leave.

This time, we asked our guests “Who will win the US Presidential Election”? And this time the room was much more evenly split, with a tiny majority believing that Clinton would triumph. The vote took place shortly before the 1st presidential debate. Time will tell…

The debate then concluded with a discussion on some of the key categories which represent a problem (or an opportunity) in eCommerce. The most notable points were:

  • There is perhaps a requirement for global brands to become more localised, particularly in the face of more national thinking
  • The automotive sector represents a significant, and largely untapped, category for eCommerce. Ticket size was not considered to be a barrier: an example was given of a musical instrument that was bought online and unseen at a cost of £230,000
  • Property purchase and conveyancing was also seen as a significant, again largely untapped opportunity
  • Retail banking and train ticketing were considered to be under-performing, and therefore areas of opportunity
  • And insurance, whilst clearly very substantial in terms of market size, was considered to deliver a poor customer experience – as the primary focus was on lead generation rather than customer service

To review the key findings from previous eCommerce Leadership Dinners, please click here.

The eCommerce Leadership Dinners are a quarterly invitation-only forum for peer-level strategic discussion and relationship building.

To register your interest in attending our next London event, please contact Sarah Rush at Spectrum (sarah.rush@spectrum-ehcs.com).