Today I’m out in Poznan, Poland – somewhere in between Warsaw & Berlin – attending e-nnovation, a conference focused on e-commerce trends in Europe and all around the world. The two-day event will feature 34 speakers talking about how worldwide e-commerce trends can be applied to Central & Eastern Europe.
Opening up the conference this morning was former Tesco CEO Sir Terry Leahy, who took the UK’s former 3rd-best UK supermarket and made it the 3rd best global retailer – behind Carrefour and Walmart.
The talk centered around Leahy’s commitment since 1992 to making “audacious goals” and, most importantly, committing to the power of data and eCommerce Tesco is well-known for having the first “club card” in 1995, a now widely common supermarket paraphernalia, which tracks shoppers purchases, allowing for insight into shopper habits. It was the first big data that retail ever got their hands on, and consumers have handed it over to this day without struggle.
Leahy also went on to talk about the importance of eCommerce, which currently makes up 7% of the retail giants annual revenue. He stated that eCommerce in Tesco is pegged at double-digit growth rates continually over the next year.
The keynote speaker, Hein Pretorius, CEO of Allegro Group, talked about the future of eCommerce in Europe. The long outstanding problem of borders in Europe is far from tackled, and while Germany and a few others are benefiting from the EU situation, the different legal, financial, and commercial laws make it very cumbersome for a UK-based retailer to sell across Europe, as it is in the US for example.
When asked why Polish entrepreneurs should stay in Europe instead of going to countries like China, India or Brazil, with equal-sized markets as Europe and less financial barriers, Pretorius pointed out that, while these countries are unified within a common legal border, the communication, transport, and commercial work between individual provinces in all three locations can be just as difficult as border-crossing business in Europe. “The grass is not greener on the other side,” laughed Pretorius, citing how India’s lack of infrastructure and inter-province communication makes it difficult for a national newspaper to exist.
The conference today is being attended by a wide variety of European ‘technorati.’ Madrid-based entrepreneur and Kernel-contributor Alex Barrera originally invited me to e-nnovation. Euro-naut Paul Papadimitriou is also present and accounted for. You can follow both of them for great live-tweet updates; they’re tweeting with the #ennovation hashtag all day.