DIGITAL CITY EXPO 2020

On 11th & 12th March 2020, over 4,000 attendees came together to experience the Digital City Expo at Manchester Central, a huge turnout for the penultimate week before the lockdown. I’m sure none of us would have predicted this iconic building (anyone else still fondly refer to it as GMEX?) would be turned into the NHS Nightingale Hospital North West just 5 weeks later.

Digital City Expo was the 2-day flagship event of the inaugural Digital City Festival Week, bringing together people from eCommerce, Tech, Retail, Marketing and Media across the UK to connect, share and learn.


The Expo saw the Tech Show North, eCommerce Show North, and Marketing Show North coming together with exhibitors showcasing the best in digital, along with a packed schedule of keynotes, masterclasses, talks and panel discussions across 8 theatres. There really was something for everyone. Here’s a round-up of our favourite talks and masterclasses:


Adam Warne, CIO at N Brown Group talked about his experience as a modern CIO joining a well-established company (160 years old!) and the importance of culture in managing tech change as they evolve to become 100% digital. His two objectives for speaking at the event were to attract new customers and to attract new talent. He certainly deserves to achieve this given his engaging and inspiring talk to a packed keynote theatre. N Brown wants to be the most loved and inclusive fashion retailer in the industry and believes in fashion without boundaries; fabulous clothes for every age in a range of sizes.


Sarah Willcocks, CEO of Screen Pages, was the opening speaker at the Ecommerce Experts theatre on day 1. Sharing her expertise and insights on progressive web apps and why they’re the future of mobile commerce, we were shown examples of how merchants are using them to overhaul and improve their customers’ mobile shopping experiences.


Gavin Laugenie, Head of Strategy & Insight at Dotdigital, ran an Ecommerce Masterclass on “Hitting the Mark”; their recently published annual global ecommerce benchmark report. Gavin shared the tactics ecommerce brands should be adopting to overcome key marketing challenges. 100 brands spanning 3 continents and 12 countries were scored against criteria ranging from email best practice to omnichannel adoption and user experience. So who were the standout performers, and why? You can get the full insights, plus tips on best-in-class tactics, here.


Mark Bodoano, Director, Client Partner at LiveArea and Rob Wood, Head of Online at The Entertainer discussed some of the agile strategies The Entertainer has adopted following its acquisition of the Early Learning Centre from Mothercare in 2019. Whilst maintaining separate web portals and brand identities, they have been able to introduce one checkout, plus click and collect and additional payment options in a number of weeks resulting in increased shipping efficiencies, conversion and AOV.


Katharine Biggs, Content & Marketing Manager and Sherine El-Tarahony, from parcelLab presented an Ecommerce Masterclass on “The Largest Untapped Digital Marketing Channel – How retailers are ignoring customers post check-out and why this needs to change.” With insights from their 2020 UK E-Commerce Shipping Study – Fashion Edition, they showed how important the post check-out experience is to increase customer loyalty. Their analysis of checkout, shipping and returns of the UK’s top 100 fashion retailers found the majority of retailers are failing to deliver against consumer expectations for quick checkout, free shipping and easy returns, and a personalised post-checkout experience. They identified 3 UK retailers who stand out from the crowd for best customer, brand and personalisation experience: JD Sports, Missguided and Hugo Boss respectively. Find out who’s doing what well, plus how to minimise potential conversion blockers, by getting your copy here.


You can pre-register your interest for next year’s event on 21st-22nd April 2021 at Manchester Central. We recommend it!

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