IMRG’s Justin Opie tells us what retailers should have learned from 2015

IMRG, which provides a voice for the UK’s online retail industry, had a pretty busy 2015. We caught up with Managing Director Justin Opie about the key content lessons and insights from last year – from the huge shift online during Black Friday to why personalisation matters more now than ever.

The pace of change

“Retail evolved at quite a speed during 2015, with the UK’s second Black Friday experiencing a huge shift to online. We started working with retailers as early as January to help them plan for the so-called delivery ‘tsunami’. The logistics industry put a lot of work into its preparation, while websites prepared themselves for additional traffic. This was important because Black Friday 2015 has evolved into a period of time, stretching over to Cyber Monday rather than being just a single day.”

A shift towards customer-centric business models

“2015 saw control handed to the customer. Today’s most successful brands are those that respond to how and where the customer wants to shop. Gone are the days of leading the consumer; brands can still strive to inspire and excite, but it’s their customers calling the shots. It’s no longer possible to push customers through your chosen channel; in any case, customer journeys are rarely single-channel anymore.

“With channels becoming blurred, retailers need to recognise it’s not about where the transaction takes place, but how channels come together to create the customer journey. In 2016 I think we’ll see retailers fairly rewarding a broader range of channels for the role they’ve played.”

Personalisation and why it’s important

“Unless there’s something in it for the customer – something both relevant and persuasive – personalisation isn’t attractive. It’s nothing new but it will play a larger role in the coming year; retail needs to focus on customer loyalty rather than luring people in, and retaining them, via low prices. In an age of increased transparency, customers want retailers that know what they find interesting and engaging.

“This means joining the dots between channels and learning how to surprise customers – making basic assumptions based on past purchases won’t do. The “theatre of the unknown” is what makes shopping such an enjoyable experience.”

The growth of mobile

“Mobile is the source of all growth in online retail; take it out and there isn’t any growth to discuss. This comes at the expense of tablet, which used to account for 80% of online purchases before dropping to 70%, in part because of larger smartphone screens. Now, 13% of all transactions are on smartphones, which represents year-on-year growth of 93%. £114 billion was spent online in 2015 – that’s almost £14.3 billion spent on mobile.”

Localisation… and click and collect

“No longer can brands simply provide products in a local currency with a local transaction platform. Brands need to offer localised products, supplemented with localised content, to convince customers of their value.

“In a not-unrelated-trend, customers are increasingly likely to choose click and collect, which now accounts for over 25% of multichannel sales, when products are ready to be delivered. It’s commonly held that home delivery is the most convenient option, but the immediacy of being able to collect an item on the way home from work has added value. Click and collect alleviates concerns over Christmas deliveries, too.”

IMRG typically gathers information by looking at past trends, but Opie has a clear picture of what’s to come. Read our summary to find out how you can capitalise on the major shifts that Opie has predicted for content marketing in 2016.

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