Key takeaways from the Digital Commerce Forum 2023 — Watch recordings

Columbia Road
5 min readNov 30, 2023

The Digital Commerce Forum 2023 brought together 200 leaders in digital commerce to hear and share insights from the changing world of digital sales. Read the key takeaways and watch the recordings of the insightful day!

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Creating billions of personalised interactions for Marks & Spencer customers

The forum was opened by Nick Masca, who spearheads Data Science in Growth and Personalisation at Marks & Spencer. As the UK’s leading retailer, M&S paves the way for truly personalised digital experiences at an impressive scale.

Masca states that more than half of consumers expect their experience always to be personalised, and 80 % of customers are more likely to purchase products from a company that offers personalised experiences. Customers are expecting personalisation, and companies are racing towards it.

To meet the expectations and get ahead of the competition, Marks & Spencer has put an aspirational focus on personalisation. In his speech, Masca showcases how their in-house personalisation capability, named Bullseye, operates on multiple layers and across channels to personalise billions of digital customer interactions every year.

This is possible with a customer data science team of 19 people working across 6 squads. M&S has about 35 machine learning systems and over 50 use cases. However, even with their cutting-edge technology, Masca highlights the importance of cross-functional teams, clear objectives, stakeholder alignment and the cruciality of experimentation.

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Strong connections with customers both online and offline lead to Lyko’s skyrocketing growth

Lyko might be a new name in the world of beauty, but they have taken the world by storm. At the core of Lyko’s impressive growth story is the strong connections they’ve cultivated with customers across channels.

In the Digital Commerce Forum 2023, Head of Sustainability and Communications Tom Thörnblom highlights the importance of earning the trust of the customers. This is achieved with a localised approach, being true to their fresh, fun and playful brand and harnessing all channels online and offline to foster customer connections.

Even with their strong digital presence, many retailers can look up to Lyko’s brick-and-mortar stores. These are not so much stores as they are “beauty playgrounds” where Lyko can get to know their customers and build lasting connections.

The same personal connections continue in their mobile app, which fosters a community of beauty influencers and beauty lovers the same. In the mobile app, customers can also transparently see the prices of Lyko’s competitors, further enhancing trust between Lyko and its customers.

This presentation shows how creating personal experiences goes beyond just recommendation engines. It’s about building connections between the customers and the brand. Lyko truly understands who their customers are and that shows in their omnichannel experiences.

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Final piece of the personalisation puzzle: Aiven utilises AI to personalise marketing operations

AI is transforming digital sales, and utilising it to enhance sales and marketing operations is easier than ever. Jaime López is leading marketing operations at Aiven, and in his speech at the Digital Commerce Forum 2023, he demonstrates how AI is the final piece of the puzzle that allows personalisation at scale.

López showcases how with only 10 € worth of GPT credits and a few lines of code, he was able to personalise and optimise marketing operations at an impressive scale. Aiven utilises AI to segment and cluster customers and uses that information in marketing automation. This allows them to send personalised messages that are relevant to the customer and their unique needs.

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Offering personal experiences to over 9 million Nordea customers

A customer base of over 9 million people is bound to be diverse. Frederik Fryland leads personalisation at Nordea and spearheads the way the company rethinks personal customer relationships in the digital age.

In banking, strong, long-lasting customer relationships have traditionally been achieved with face-to-face interactions in one’s local bank. As banking moves increasingly online — Nordea’s mobile app has over 100 million logins each month — personalisation is a key to supporting Nordea’s mission to create great customer relationships.

Personalisation efforts at Nordea have led to impressive results. For example, Fryland’s team has seen over 15x lift in customer engagement with personalisation. Fryland highlights how personalisation is a key to future success while also addressing how it is a massive challenge for many organisations.

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Experimentation ensures greater impact

Erin Weigel is a design guru with an impressive resumé leading conversion design at companies like Booking.com and Deliveroo. At the Digital Commerce Forum 2023, we got the privilege of hearing her explain her design method that has, time and time again, led to improved conversions and greater impact.

At the core of Weigel’s message is experimentation. Her approach to conversion design combines design with science and business to truly cultivate measurable results. The framework she shares offers us a way of ensuring that the personalisation efforts our companies pursue are actually generating the impact we hope to see.

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Get started with personalisation today

The closing keynote of the Digital Commerce Forum was by none other than Columbia Road’s own Eero Martela. In his presentation, Eero showcases how to stop overthinking and get to action with personalisation.

Eero opens the presentation with the statement that companies operating in digital commerce should be more like his father. Or in other words, visiting an online store should be like talking to a good salesperson.

There are different approaches to this. Some companies like Ben&Jerry’s or Lyko are able to create personal interactions with customers by building a strong brand that resonates with its audience. On the other end of the spectrum are fully-online companies such as Wish.com that rely on data with every single decision, sometimes leading to surprising results.

Once your company has figured out the right approach for you, it’s time to get started. Martela demonstrates three real-life customer cases where Columbia Road has been able to build personal interactions online without massive CDP projects or taking months to implement them. Often just a few data points and some creativity can lead to impressive results.

Originally published at https://www.columbiaroad.com.

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Columbia Road

Nordic digital sales consultancy. We help companies get more revenue and more customers in the digital era.