The Etail Power List of this year’s most influential retailers in ecommerce shows the industry and its leaders are changing faster than ever.
When Retail Week first compiled the Etail Power List in 2010 online was still an emerging influence in retail – five years later, it’s the driving force of the sector.
Etail’s leaders are now becoming retail’s leaders, with M&S’s Laura Wade-Gery and Tesco’s Robin Terrell being some of the most high-profile examples of ecommerce professionals assuming responsibilties for stores as well as online this year.
Terrell’s role as managing director of Tesco’s UK business is on an interim basis. Regardless of whether this becomes permanent or not, it is testament to how the talent of ecommerce are leading operations that span beyond the channel of online.
Online and multichannel bosses are leading dramatic change within the sector – their response to changing consumer behaviour not only affects business strategy but also shapes the way the country shops.
One of the greatest changers of consumer behaviour over the past decade has been Amazon. Its UK boss Chris North remains at the top of the list this year as the online retailer’s range, prices and convenience continue to have a hold over shoppers.
But that’s not to say that North and Amazon have no competition in the UK. Our online retail sector is one of the most vibrant in the world and a hotbed of innovation.
Click-and-collect, something Amazon has tried to emulate with its collection lockers, is now hugely popular with customers craving convenience and certainty of delivery. Meanwhile, multichannel retailers are finding more inventive ways to match their service to needs of shoppers.
There are also many high-risers and new entrants in the list from pure-play businesses that are really starting to make their mark.
Ao.com’s John Roberts and Boohoo.com’s Mahmud Kamani and Carol Kane all fall into this category. These rapidly growing retailers are not just winning shoppers, but have a proposition that is attracting investors with highly lucrative floats this year.
The monster valuations are a sign that investors believe that online retail is far from mature in the UK. And the likes of Ao.com and Boohoo.com are set to not only lead online retail but be dominant players across the whole sector.
And they’re not alone. Fast-growing businesses such as Made.com, Missguided and Occa-Home also get a mention in the list, proving that North should feel far from comfortable at the top.
- Chris Brook-Carter, editor-in-chief