Last week VL returned to London, England for the second year in a row to exhibit at
If you’re a regular reader of VL’s blog or a subscriber of our OMNIlink Newsletter, you’ll recall that the 2015 edition of this show was VL’s first break into the UK market. In the year since many things have changed while others have stayed the same. Keep reading for an account of VL’s time at the 2016 UK Ecommerce Expo, including pictures and more!
VL Does the UK Ecommerce Expo 2016
– A RECAP –
Our third official trip to exhibit in the UK in little over a year and our second time in London, England, the 2016 UK Ecommerce Show was a familiar sight for the VL team. Positioned in the main hall in a main traffic thoroughfare, we set up our newly redesigned booth, put out our improved informational app, laid out our brand-new rebranded brochures, and excitedly waited for the show to start.
A lot had changed from the 2015 show; VL is not only much more tuned into the multi-channel market and data integration service needs of the UK, but we’ve also launched our new look and brand name, redesigned our promotional materials and had a great presentation lined up for day 2 of the show. Once the doors opened, we quickly discovered that the audience attending this year’s show had also changed; those looking for high-quality data integration services beelined right to VL at Stand E421. Attendees walked around with printouts and marked-up copies of the Event Guide. Attendees were on specific missions to fill gaps in their technologies, service providers, and more.
Brexit is on everyone’s minds, but no one’s talking about it
Talk about the elephant in the room — especially for a group of Canadians in the UK! Brexit was on everyone’s minds, but many weren’t speaking about it. Those who did cast Brexit in two lights: either that UK businesses are in a ‘wait-and-see’ scenario and are making moves cautiously in the meantime, or that Brexit can be turned into an eventual positive for businesses that operate both domestically and internationally.
A few businesses are blazing their own Brexit trails, though: some are seeing it as an opportunity to capitalise on international partnerships (in light of the favourable trading rates with the British Pound), and others are seeing the advantages in everyone else moving more slowly and with caution.
Overall, Brexit still remains a bit of a sub-conversation that penetrated most discussions at the 2016 UK Ecommerce Expo, whether it was explicitly stated or implied. In any case, the days of Brexit are still early and aren’t the centre of attention for continuing to develop multi-channel commerce in the UK and beyond — business is still powering forward as usual.
Paper is still King — but there’s a realisation that there are better ways
We had a mini-debate in our offices in Mississauga, Ontario before we packed up and headed off to the UK:
At last year’s show, we were astounded by the amount of paper floating around the show (and the amount we ended up packing into our bags and bringing home with us). We came prepared last year and left almost all of our brochures with interested attendees. This year we had a great new brochure. But VL provides digital business services surrounding data integration, and as such, we don’t typically deal in paper. (It also runs against our ever-present theme in our educational pieces, blog, and conversations, which encourage businesses to ditch the paper in favour of automation and data integration.)
Just some of the screens available for users to explore in our trade show app.
But having attended and exhibited at the UK Ecommerce Expo at 2015 and in IRX in Birmingham earlier this year, our team knew to expect that the attending audience would likely want to be able to take away something physical. So even though attendees could opt for digitally downloading the brochure instantly from our in-stand trade show app, we brought a decent amount of our physical brochures with us as well.
And do you know how many of those brochures we brought back with us? Zero.
Even though the conversations the VL team had at the show emphasised the growing trend of the UK market towards automation and away from paper (at least in the data translation and transmission world), it was still important to the audience to have something physical to take with them. Perhaps this belies the continuing theme of UK companies, who typically have one foot in the new multi-channel digital economy, and one foot still firmly planted in legacy systems and protocol.
Businesses, C-Levels, Managers and more are salivating for high-quality data integration services
As I mentioned at the start of this recap, many show attendees walked through the UK Ecommerce Expo’s doors holding what, for all intents and purposes, was a shopping list of exhibitors and speaking sessions they wanted to interact with. We’re very happy to report that VL was included on many attendees’ shopping lists; there were a fair number of people who came over to VL’s Stand E421 to speak specifically with us about our data integration services. Some came in looking for us from the get-go, and some followed Robin H. Smith back to our stand after his speaking session.
The message was clear: UK businesses are seeing high-quality data integration services like those VL provides as competitive advantages, and, in some cases, are desperate to take their businesses to the next level with the help of VL. But the challenge of the overwhelming prevalence of legacy systems in UK businesses persists; many businesses also came over to seeking advice from the VL team regarding how to move away from legacy applications or processes. (Have you heard about VL’s partner network? Built on good will only, VL is partnered with applications, service providers, and more to help our customers reach that next level of growth. Contact VL to learn more.
The focus is on education
This year, the UK Ecommerce Expo was definitely focused on education. Expanding the number of theatres for the show (I counted at least 10 separate theatres), some attendees were clearly looking for thought leadership and insight on how to make their businesses run better.
Robin H. Smith had the audience taking notes like there was no tomorrow!
VL is no stranger to presenting at various trade shows, and the UK Ecommerce Expo is no exception: Robin H. Smith, Co-Founder and GM of Sales & Marketing at VL gave a fantastic presentation on how Gen M is influencing customer experience expectations, and how the quality of your data integrations directly informs the quality of your customers’ experiences. Stay tuned to VL’s blog by subscribing to our newsletter, OMNIlink: we will be posting the slides from VL’s presentation in the coming days!
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