The recent eTail Connect event in London on February 25 and 26, was the epicenter for companies in the e-commerce and retail ecosystem. From retailers, omnichannel, and pure-play players to successful brick and mortar companies thinking about going online for the first time after decades of success, the event brought together the industry for sharing, discussion, and a little bragging.

A highlight of the event was an entrepreneur’s talk about lessons learned while building not one but three, successful well-known ‘direct’ brands. His laser focus on the ‘customer economics’ of the balance between cost per acquisition (CPA) and the lifetime value was the essential formula he used to measure everything. 

The entrepreneur was adamant that you need to have a robust and clear mission message, customer-centric and think only about what helps your customer’s user journey, but should also keep coming back to the ‘customer economics.’ 

This made me think about a conversation I had with an industry expert at the event who had spent nearly two decades with a well-known brand in the UK. Our discussion centered around the core principles of ‘direct marketing’ or ‘precision marketing’ as it was called earlier in his career.

He described how his team had used their customer loyalty card data to incrementally increase the lifetime value of customers by smart segmentation, mathematical insights and gentle, thoughtful ‘nudges’ to introduce a higher ‘recency/frequency’ ratio.

My favorite quote of eTail Connect was ‘just like direct selling used to be before the web made tracking customers much more difficult.’ Why? Because the implication of this is that some key evergreen retail ideas had temporarily got lost and possibly overlooked in the early years of eTail. 

Thanks to the organizers for really helping us meet fascinating people and to Dr. Paul Marsden to encourage us to ‘shop happy.’


Insights by Rob Sharland, vice president, Global Sales, Audiens.