Tommy Kelly is the CEO of eShopWorld, an ecommerce platform that helps brands and retailers sell to international online markets. We recently caught up with Tommy to find out how Covid-19 has impacted his working life, as well as his thoughts on how the pandemic has impacted both consumers and retailers.

Tommy Kelly

Please describe your job: What do you do?

As CEO of eShopWorld (ESW), I have a diverse role. Due to the nature of our business, as a cross-border ecommerce platform, I’m across all the components of our solution that helps retailers trade internationally, from the management of the software itself, to the execution and integration to international payment capabilities and tax compliance.

A lot of my time is spent meeting and talking to our customers so we’re always ready to pre-empt their needs and evolve the current service we provide them.  This insight means we not only meet their current needs but are on the front foot in anticipating what their future needs might be, so we can keep them one step ahead of the curve. And the pace of the rate of change of that curve has certainly accelerated due to the pandemic.

I also engage with the team who run the business day-to-day, acting as the lynchpin between customer needs and our internal team’s delivery.

How do you maintain an effective work/life balance?

Thankfully, I have always been able to maintain a healthy work-life balance thanks to the active and social lifestyle I enjoy, whether that’s making time for cycling or having time to interact socially with my network.  

In a way, the pandemic has given everyone a chance to reassess their work-life balance and has made us think differently about having healthier aspects as part of that balanced lifestyle, especially as we now have more time.

How has strategy changed at your company?

ESW has always been a company that has chased and achieved aggressive growth targets and we’ve grown 40% each year.  We have seen that growth boom in 2020, up 100%, as the rise in digital has been accelerated by the pandemic, and brands and retailers recognise the need to strengthen their own presence internationally online. Our 2019 Market & Innovation Review predicted total cross-border sales would rise to $994 billion in 2020 and with further growth likely given the accelerator impact of COVID addressing this customer demand has become a business necessity.

This growth has meant strategic changes have needed to be made quickly, which has seen an accelerated investment in the platform itself as well as adding diversity into the solution.  And by diversity, I mean capabilities that enable us to meet customer expectations, which are required to address the pivotal shift in terms of how people think about ecommerce.  

It is these two strategic changes that have enabled us not just to keep step with consumer demand, but to invest in the trends that will power the future of ecommerce.

How has customer behaviour (or your clients’ customer behaviour) changed during the pandemic?

There’s no doubt in the general acceleration to digital that we have seen during the pandemic, but it’s not just a case of more ecommerce purchases.  The pandemic has brought entire new cohorts online, and we now see a broader range of age demographics who have shopped and continue to shop online, even as stores have re-opened.  They’ve shifted online and then stayed online. 

This widening of the demographic, particularly among more mature audiences who have a greater capacity to spend, has seen an increase in average order values (AOV) and a propensity to be more loyal to the brands they shop with, so customer lifetime value is also up on pre-pandemic levels.

We’re also seeing different requirements from shoppers, such as different views to credit when buying online, with a rising demand for buy-now-pay-later options. 

What advice would you give a marketer right now?

The real winners will be those businesses that have ongoing direct and meaningful engagement with their customers – and that engagement model needs to work across channels, whether that’s email, in-app or through other marketing channels.  

It’s the direct-to-consumer engagement model that uses data and personalisation that will build customer relationships that last.