Bigmouthmedia is to warn online retailers that they must prepare to meet the challenge of the most competitive market conditions the sector has ever faced.

Bigmouthmedia senior retail strategist Finlay Clark will tell an invited audience of senior executives at the 2nd Annual bigmouthmedia Retail Summit this month that UK retailers are set to face fresh challenges as ecommerce consumer habits keep evolving rapidly. According to Clark, retailers face multiple opportunities and challenges posed by a shifting approach to the market, a raft of new technological developments and the entry of new players from overseas will have a major impact upon the sector in the coming months.

“With increased competition coming from various angles, retailers are about to face some of the biggest challenges in their history. Big overseas competitors are coming to the UK knowing consumers are sophisticated online shoppers, and the likes of Best Buy will be aiming to make its mark on an increasingly competitive consumer electronics market in 2010. Similarly, in fashion we have seen a shift with the likes of Ebay become clothes shopping destinations in their own right, whilst Amazon has allowed big high street brands to retail on their own platform,” said Clark.

“Nowadays independent fashion designers are launching exclusive collections on Ebay – far removed from the second hand and grey market sales that they made their name on – and in many ways they’re now a direct competitor to the retailers themselves.”

Clark will be joined by a panel of industry-leading online retail experts speaking on a range of themes including current consumer trends, cross channel shopping habits, the shape of UK Internet advertising and the impact of social technologies upon web retailing.

Taking the podium at the Bigmouthmedia Retail Summit will be Benjamin Ensor, VP research director at Forrester Research, Google Retail Industry Leader Peter Fitzgerald and Tony Stockil, CEO of Javelin Group. Hitwise research director Robin Goad and Enders Analysis Founder Claire Enders will also join Clark on the rostrum.

In a presentation designed to identify the 10 key events set to hit Ecommerce over the course of the next two years, Clark will also highlight the challenge presented by the growth of online applications. Although a relatively new phenomenon, he predicts that retailers will be forced to place increasing focus upon keeping up with rapidly developing new marketing technologies.

“Some of the best content in the future will be delivered through applications like those found in Apple’s iPhone Apps Store. Retailers are only beginning to get to grips with the value of applications at the moment, and ensuring that theirs stands out and can be found easily by consumers will be a crucial challenge over the next few years,” said Clark.

“We’ll also see a lot more made of mobile marketing, which is only just beginning to make an impact upon retail, and expect there to be much greater correlation with the way retailers are able to market to consumers based on location-aware technology. Operators like Debenhams are already experimenting with such systems, but we are likely to see rapid developments in the field over the next 24 months.”

The bigmouthmedia Retail Summit takes place in London on March 25th and is a free event aimed at senior marketing and ecommerce executives. Places are limited, but those wishing to attend can register at http://www.bigmouthmedia.com/signup for an invitation.

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