Brexit makes an entrance at this year’s TFM & eCommerce Expo
A total of 16,000 marketing, ecommerce, customer service and customer management professionals are expected to have passed through London’s Olympia over the past two days to attend the revamped Technology for Marketing (TFM) 2016, with this number including two of Babel’s own. The scope of the event has broadened this year, encompassing both eCommerce Expo and Customer Contact Expo with the hope of covering all aspects of the consumer journey and attracting as broad a range of industry intelligence as possible. The key themes taxing that intelligence? Omni channel automation, personalisation, and the ever-looming threat-slash-opportunity of Brexit.
Whether the changing political and economic situation would impact positively or negatively on the ecommerce industry was neatly reflected in the title of yesterday’s seminar which opened: ‘How to cope with Brexit’, before a more optimistic, ‘and grow revenues in Western Europe.’ Key players from Pivot Commerce, The Dune Group, Stylight, Grupa Allegro and The Economist Unit led the discussion, which no doubt reflected the many questions and debates taking place across the show floor.
The withdrawal process – when finally actioned – will take at least two years, and the assumption at present is that retailers, with limited access to the single market, will begin the arduous process of renegotiating trade deals. Where previously trade with Europe was open and straightforward, there is now fear of an added layer of complications. These range from cross-border sales for US retailers becoming more difficult, and the devaluation of the pound meaning UK shoppers may reduce their spending on European and US ecommerce platforms.
So pressing are these concerns that, in perfect timing for TFM 2016, the Culture, Media and Sport Committee opened an inquiry on Wednesday this week into the impact of Brexit on the creative industries, tourism and the digital single market. Included in the review will be an assessment of how online sales by UK-based businesses are likely to be affected once the UK leaves the EU, with written evidence being submitted by UK businesses and key stakeholders.
Chatting with exhibitors at London’s Olympia suggests that this evidence may not focus solely on how to ‘cope with’ Brexit, but instead how to embrace developments and use Brexit as an opportunity. Laws and regulations around trade could be relaxed in a post-Brexit Britain, UK-based ecommerce may sell more goods as a result of cheaper prices, and many retailers, with established and loyal customer bases outside the UK, could all serve to weather or counteract the negative effects of Brexit.
It’s quite clearly an interesting time for marketers and retailers alike post-Brexit, not just because of impending changes to UK legislation, but also because of the fast-paced, ever-changing nature of the industry itself. At Babel, we work with many companies within this sector, helping them to recognise and capitalise on the opportunities today’s landscape affords them, both from a wider business operations perspective and from a communications point of view. With Brexit likely to be a long-standing feature rather than a flash-in-a-pan programme item at these types of events, businesses of all shapes and sizes should be devising a strategy of how to communicate any post-Brexit changes to both internal stakeholders and external audiences, in both the immediate and longer-term.