Digital Transformation in 2021

What will force Ecommerce Businesses to change their Digital Strategy in 2021?


Due to the pandemic most commerce businesses have recently been forced to speed up the process of their Digital Transformation. In addition, existing ecommerce businesses have been facing an advanced level of competition and the Digital Commerce Market environment is frequently changing to an extent that business leaders struggle to keep up with the new changes.

EICOM’s mission is to support C-Level Managers to guide their companies through Digital Transformation we would like to give you an outlook about some upcoming trends and again highlight the relevancy of our Executive Education Programme in Cambridge.

1. Shopping on TV

 Shoppable TV is a term we have been coming across more and more over the last two years.  Customers can already use QR codes from TV advertisements to land on the exact product page and complete the checkout on their smartphone. The next trend we are waiting for now is clickable streaming advertisements. Providers such as Amazon Prime or Netflix would therefore be able to include clickable products in streaming content.

 How often do we find ourselves watching TV/streaming services and thinking ‘This is the shirt, dress, shoes or even kitchen item, decoration etc. that I have been looking for for…’


2. ReCommerce 

Consumers have become more aware of the environment than ever and the commerce industry has been responding to this trend. Second Hand Online Shops are on the rise and may be a different level of competition that should not be underestimated.


3. Distribution

 Distribution Channels and their efficiency need to be a 100% when retailers aim for satisfied customers. Fast and safe delivery needs to be guaranteed as well as easy return processes which are now all digitalised. For many ecommerce retailers there is a strong need to update the processes, software and even team structure.


4. Product Rentals

 The fashion industry is a sector where product rentals could become a larger opportunity in 2021. As people are more concerned about the downward trend of the world’s economy caused by the pandemic, trends would indicate that certain consumers would rather focus on essential goods. With the vaccine being in the last trial stages, all postponed event plans will be picked up again. Whether this is corporate events, trade shows or private engagements like weddings, birthday parties or music festivals; people will get back into non-essential activity again.

The wedding industry has already been experiencing a great interest in ‘wedding dress rentals’ but there are also Online Shops that offer clothes to rent (e.g. Cocoon, MyWardrobe HQ, Rotaro, etc.). We could come across this commerce strategy with a number of luxury brands but also medium tier lower cost brands who focus on the environmental factor of ‘reusing’ products.


5. Advanced Customisation

Advanced Product Customisation is a trend that we have been seeing for years now with certain brands and it is steadily on the rise.

Consumers can make design changes to their Coca-Cola Bottle or their Nutella Jar with a name/wish and have their Adidas Superstars made in their own colours and patterns.

As a result, retailers can not only reach the consumers who are not yet convinced by the current collection; but they can also increase the product’s price as the additional charge on ‘personalised items’ seems to be widely accepted. 

The trend of ‘customising products’ is expected to spread across all industries in 2021. Whether it is clothes, confectionery, glassware, decorations, stationery articles etc. certain consumers like to ‘create their own’ design. 


6. Intelligent Algorithms 

Many companies are already using intelligent algorithms to track their shoppers’ journey and buying behaviour. This will give you a great insight into their buying behavior and buying decision making processes but it is mainly based on past-purchases.

In 2021 these algorithms could be used in a smarter way to predict potential buying journeys on new products and services.

It will also effect the way companies communicate with their customers. The set of information, based on past buying decisions and predictions can help creating content that is more relevant to the individual shopper. We expect loyalty programs, customer acquisition campaigns and regular communications to change.


7. Ecommerce goes Offline

It does sound like a contradiction but retailers such as Amazon have already started to set up offline stores starting in 2018. Even if people use digital market places they still do some product research and try to get a ‘look and feel’ of the product in other stores which could then, lead to an ‘easy-purchase-option’. 

There is no radical On- or Offline Customer unless it is someone without internet access or the ability to use it. Most people are used to have and use both shopping channels and businesses will need to define a strategy that works with the new requirements.


The ongoing Trend: Environmental Friendly

We have already been through a lot of changes when we think about retailers ‘going green’. But this will go beyond packaging and an environmental friendly production. You will need to understand the ‘Ethical Consumer’.

We have therefore incorporated a new module in our programme and we are pleased to introduce a new professor,  Dr. Charles Hancock to our team. He will add his module ‘The rise of the ethical consumer’ to our programme.
This session aims to provide an insight into the what consumers value when making their purchase decision. Consumer are becoming increasingly conscious of where products are manufactured, how they are manufactured and from what material. Disrupting the incumbent brands, smaller agile upstarts decouple the value chain by listening to their customers desire, and destabilising old practices.






Manage Personal Stress during the Pandemic

Overcome 2020’s


Each and every individual is suffering from a high level of stress caused by Covid-19 but all managers, team leaders and company owners with a sense of humanity have to carry a lot more. 

Covid-Stress & Anxiety

Besides from the obvious fear to either catch or pass on the virus, developing the life-threatening symptoms or having beloved ones suffering from it, there is more pressure, fear and even anxiety coming along with the potential second wave of the Coronavirus. Company owners face the existency fear of their own business and family but also of their employees. Team leaders may be concerned about some staff who live on their own as they are at high risk to suffer from severe depression as a result of weeks of isolation. The combined fear of financial, health and mental existance is draining for everybody but there are some things we can do to stay strong and positive considering the circumstances. In this article we will give you some Hacks on how to stay focussed and to keep a positive state of mind during these hard times:

Include Sports in your daily routine

Scientists have proven that sports and healthy nutrition do have a huge effect on people’s mental condition. It is easy to find excuses to not exercise this during lockdown periods and isolation but even if you are stuck at home it is important to set free endorphins to    remove any feeling of discomfort, pain or stress. It is common knowledge that especially strenuous cardio-workouts will make our pituitary grand release endorphins. If you work from home we therefore recommend to exercise outside.


Going for a run in the morning does not only wake you up but it will get you into good spirits. The combination of fresh air, daylight and exercise is all you need to start the day off with a clear mind. In a daily routine this will make you feel like you have to do something to ‘get’ to work, even if it is your home office.



You cannot go for a run, go cycling or hiking but you will still be able to exercise. There are full body workouts on Youtube (for free) and really good virtual personal trainers. Rebecca Louise for example offers warm up, different workouts and even Yoga and Pilates sessions. You do not need the gym just a bit of space inside your own home/ garden. Yoga will not only help you to set free the endorphins but also reduce your stress level through breathing techniques.

We recommend a cardio workout in the morning to get up and yoga at night to end the day at reduced stress levels to get some rest.


Encourage your team to also do some exercise at home. It creates the team spirit and the feel of your company’s community. Set up a competition each day e.g. ’80 burpees challenge’. Everyone who will make the 80 burpees will experience a feeling of achievement and reward. The moment one tackles the challenge the body releases the neuro-transmitter dopamine that releases the feeling of reward and increases the level of inner motivation.

Be There


Every manager has got a certain responsibility towards his/her team. It is vital to keep in touch on a regular basis. We are lucky to have the internet to set up Zoom calls and to create virtual meetings. It is not the same as a one-to-one session but seeing the reactions and people is still triggering certain emotions and the feeling to be socialising. It does not matter how you connect but you have the responsibility to keep your operations transparent and inform your employees about any changes caused by the pandemic. Since everybody is scared to lose their jobs frequent communication will still release a feeling of reassurance or trust.

Our EICOM professors try their best to stay connected to

A. Inform their employees about any happenings in relation to the virus

B. To give their employees a feeling of a community

C. To find out about their employees’ wellbeing.


EICOM Programme Director, Mariano Gomide de Faria, has been conducting a daily call with his entire team since the beginnings of lockdown. He does not only give an update on global infection rates but also gives his team the chance to connect and interact. See some of the tips our professors shared with us during our webinar ‘ How Business Leaders are Preparing for Post-Lockdown”.

Angela tries to involve her team in the decision making process. “When we put our team into furlough […] we had that conversation with the team and say let’s make that decision together”.

Angela Cearns

CEO , TrueTwins

Fabio stresses “it is important to put ourselves into the shoes of everyone working with us because after all we are all human beings.”


Fabio Agnello Bonfa

Digital Transformation Specialist, Deputy CEO, Veepee

Zia reconnects with people she has not been in touch with for a while. “Checking in on people, […] you haven’t checked in with in a long time makes them feel like there is others out there who are concerned about them […].

Zia Daniell Wigder

Chief Global Content Officer at Shoptalk and Co-Founder at Grocerystore

Manage Stress with a Healthy Diet

Ultimately make sure you keep up a healthy diet. The way we nurture our body has an effect on our mental state too. With the pandemic we try to reduce the amount of shopping trips but this does not mean that we have to miss out on fresh and healthy food options.

Keep up a balanced diet and get enough rest

Make sure you nurture your body with sufficient vitamins, oils and enough fluids. This will not only help you to focus and feel good about yourself but also help your sleep. With all the stress and worries you will probably find yourself tired but restless and it is hard to fall asleep. Try to keep down your sugar level in the afternoon by reducing your carbs and sugar intake which also includes alcohol. The human body struggles to break down sugars, especially at night which results in a very inconsistent sleep. If you then start the day being tired you will experience a lot of cravings for sugary snacks and you end up in this vicious cycle. 

Long lasting fresh produce

There are fruits and vegetables that last a long time if they are bought fresh and not frozen. Try to avoid pre-cut fruit and vegetables as their shelf life will be shorter. With fruit and vegetables you can also try to buy products that are not ripe yet to haven them ripen at home. Long lasting fruits can be Kiwi, Citrus fruits, Apples, Pears, Melon, Avocado etc. Berries and grapes on the other hand do not last very long. 

All root vegetables and vegetables like courgettes, aubergine, pumpkins, cole and peppers last fairly long. 

Alternative Shopping Methods

Many supermarkets offer delivery services and the amount of online supermarkets has increased during the pandemic. Schedule in a convenient date and time frame and have fresh products delivered to your home. This is the safest way to shop if you are shielding or a vulnerable person.

Be careful when Shopping

Try to keep the recommended personal distance at all times and wear a mask. Sanitise your hands before and right after your shopping trip to protect yourself and others from spreading the virus. 

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How to deal with Post Lockdown – Insights from Andreas Karlsson

How to Deal with Post-Lockdown 

’The Million Dollar Question’


 Andreas Karlsson, Group CEO of Sticks’n’Sushi has shared his personal experience on ‘How to manage Post-Lockdown’ during the EICOM webinar on the 1st July 2020. Operating in three different countries, namely Denmark, the United Kingdom and Germany this has been an international learning curve for the organisation and for Andreas himself. With Denmark being one of the first European countries that introduced a lockdown, Sticks’n’Sushi first faced the Danish Covid-19 regulations. As different lockdown rules have been implemented in Germany and the UK he had to cope with other challenges later on.

The Initial Lockdown Experience

Andreas considers himself lucky as his restaurants operate on a half in store/half delivery model, so the basic structure for a Digital/Off-site operation was already established. There was still a huge need for adaptation and his biggest concern has always been the safety of staff members and customers. Andreas therefore used the lockdown period to put all safety measures into place and communicate them to the teams. There is no one ‘right method’ or one guideline. Andreas has clearly been faced by various challenges and having experienced a lockdown and post-lockdown in one country does not necessarily prepare one for the others.

“We had to close down Berlin totally for over eight weeks and in the meanwhile when our Prime Minister here in the UK said, Keep Calm and wash your hands and sing Happy Birthday twice, then you’d be fine.”

Lessons learned …

One lesson that he took away from his experiences is that communication is key. Managers really need to keep in touch with their employees and customers and keep them informed about any changes. There is great insecurity not only from a customer perspective but also employees who were nervous about job security as well as the dangers of catching/spreading the virus. These front of house and hospitality staff are at the ‘front line’ in the post lockdown period and they do need time to assess the risks and adapt their workspace and services to safer standards.

Andreas understands that it’s his employees and colleagues “who keep the wheel turning”. To show his appreciation, Andreas went the extra mile by driving all the way up from Germany to Denmark for 18 hours nearly non-stop just to be with his team. As a manager or team leader, you will be faced with difficult times and also personal struggles. Their are of course worries about the economy and in turn awareness that staff members are dependent on their salaries to provide for their families.  In addition, another strain can be the physical social distancing whether in the work place or when employees are forced to work from home.


How to manage your own stress level?

Like all business leaders, Andreas had to find his own method to deal with the stress and to stay positive throughout this unusual period of time. In order to not get caught up with things at home and to stay motivated he tries to stick to his ‘daily routine’.

“Go to work, even if work is at home.” He gets up early, gets dressed as if he was going into one of his restaurants and goes for a walk before he starts at the same time he would normally do.

EICOM’s post lockdown hack to share is to keep a daily routine to ensure you stay focussed. Sometimes imagination is all you need, so imagining that you are working from your office could increase your productivity and boost your mood.


Innovative Changes of UK Retailers in Response to the Corona Crisis

Innovative Changes of UK Retailers in Response to the Corona Crisis

Innovative Changes of UK Retailers in Response to the Corona Crisis

UK retailers have made innovative changes in response to COVID-19. We have taken a closer look at how they try to get customers back through the door and long term changes they have to make.

As the pandemic starts to affect different countries at a different pace, various countries are starting to return to a new sense of normality and businesses are about to reopen. Traditional retailers are trying to utilise digital tools to enhance the customer experience and to manage daily operations. Even though the UK seems to be one of the pioneers in eCommerce compared to its current EU neighbour countries it has been challenged by the pandemic which forced businesses to turn into digital operations faster than expected

What have UK retailers done to mitigate the effects of COVID-19?

1.Traditional Retailers offering large discounts to clear old stock

Due to the lockdown, online sales surged to a 10 year high – up to an incredible +23.8% year on year according to the IMRG  Capgemini Online Retail Sales Index (IMRG Source).

Traditional UK Fashion retailers are offering large discounts as the pressure mounts to clear old stock. UK Fashion retailer Marks and Spencers has announced a new “Rainbow Sale” which offers customers at least 50% of certain items. The rainbow has become a symbol for hope for the NHS across the UK and Marks and Spencers has committed to contribute 10% of takings to NHS Charities under this campaign.

On the other side of the coin, Boohoo a Pure-Player eCommerce fashion business has seen profits and sales rise as people shop from home. The online retailer has also put aside £200m for acquisitions that may arise following the COVID-19 pandemic. Traditional retailers such as the fashion retailer Primark are expected to also offer huge discounts once the UK lockdown eases

2.Changes in the market structure of the Commerce Industry.

The outbreak of the pandemic did not only make customers changing their buying behaviour but have also had a dramatic impacr on the entire market structure within commerce. As competition rules were relaxed during the start of the lockdown we saw manufactures and retailers sharing supply chains and collaborating to meet the surge in demand. This new way of working will further increase the shift to digitalisation of the supply chain which will help organisations react quicker to crisis and ultimately consumer buying behaviours. This may result in smaller businesses partnering up or larger businesses to widen their product range siginificantly so that customers can get all they need in one place. Mariano Gomide de Faria, Co-Founder & CEO of VTEX  has mentioned this shift towards a new market structure which he calls ‘unified commerce’ (April 2020).

3. The rise of the Digital Supply Chain

Whilst in moments of crisis it becomes evident that the priority is to create fast and reliable supply chains. Covid-19 also shines a spotlight on weak and fragile supply chains.

By utilising more digital tools in a supply chain, retailers and manufacturers are more easily able to communicate across their networks and implement changes quicker and in a more responsive way. Supply chains have become very sophisticated and and crucial for the competitiveness between organisations. Whilst being global and interlinked they can be impacted by a wide range of risks. The pandemic was an underestimated risk as it forced global boarder closures which ‘cut-off’ many supply chains and businesses have been put under the pressure of uncertainty, not knowing when they could be receiving the next supplies. Along with the uncertainty both producers and retailers have experienced how important a strong communication system (Digital Supply Chain) can be.


New Digital Supply chains will be more resilient and offer a more agile response paired with a better risk management strategy compared to traditional supply chains. It will help to build a supply-network and more efficient ways of communication. This will also optimise supply chains to the actual market / end-customers. Retailers will be able to set up different online shopping and delivery methods to accommodate immobile shoppers.

The rise in digital supply chains will also advance the need for 5G and other information and technological advances to ensure that the transition to DNS’s will be quicker.  A recent report by Deloitte highlighted the need for Digital Supply Networks and how they will be key in an organisations risk management strategy: (Deloitte Supply Chain management and Covid-19)

 “Leveraging advanced technologies such as the Internet of Things, artificial intelligence, robotics, and 5G, DSNs are designed to anticipate and meet future challenges….From a risk management perspective, the key will be to build a “resilient” supply chain that not only seeks to reduce risks but also is prepared to quickly adjust and recover from any unanticipated supply chain disruptions that occur.”

4. The rise of Big Data –  A digital rabbit hole?

We have seen innovative ways that Big Data has been used and analysed in response to this virus and in relation to consumer behaviour. The UK government has been using Google Map Travel Information to understand the behaviour of people and their travel patterns. This analysis has bought to the forefront analysis to track the virus in real-time. Whilst the UK government partners with Big Tech it does raise privacy concern questions also.

Big Data also comes into play more so as retailers gain even more information on user behaviour in store. Sainsbury’s who launched the Smart Shop System which is a mobile till-free in store experience via handset have experienced a surge in use as consumers avoid handling cash and minimise interactions. CEO Mike Coupe recently said:

 “We have now rolled out Smart Shop into all of our supermarkets and at the end of the year our self participation in our handset stores was around 18%. Now clearly it has moved a lot further forward more recently. And last but by no means least we are joining together our digital proposition and our real estate and increasingly digitising all of our properties whether that is Nectar, whether it is the bank and Argos Financial Services, whether it is Smart Shop and also introducing universal search.”

Big Data is going to be increasingly used and analysed to explore consumer behaviour. A recent study by EY (EY Index) stated that 53% of consumers of the index would make their personal data available if it helped to monitor and track and infection cluster. They also identified that the analysis and sharing of data could help shape new business models respond to customers’ needs more than ever.


Whilst many analysts have predicted a return to normal shopping behaviours towards the end of the year, it would be naive to be assume that retailers and commerce businesses will return to the old ways of operations. Along with the rise in Big Data, and the efficienct and rapit digital transformation of many commerce businesses, market structures are going to change. Whilst we all prepare and hope for a quick recovery, we know that companies will face a very different future post Covid-19.

This is also a time for Digital Professionals to innovate and apply their own creative thinking to these new and often fast changing scenarios.