Key Take-Aways from eTail Australia 2023

The annual eTail Australia 2023 conference was held at the Sheraton Grand Hyde Park in Sydney last week, February 14-16. 60 Speakers. 200+ Founders, CEOs, CMOs, and eCommerce leaders. Congratulations Heather Ang on another successful eTail conference.

In this article, Ross McIntyre, Associate, Payments Consulting Network gives us the top insights to come out of eTail Australia. From digital transformation trends across industries to emerging payment solutions for improved customer experiences.

Welcome Address from Lauren Stapleton, Head of Sponsorship, eTail Australia 

Mangala Martinus delivers opening remarks 


The event kicked off with a welcome address from Lauren Stapleton. We then had opening remarks from Day 1 Chair, Mangala Martinus, Managing Director of Payments Consulting Network and Merchant Advisory. This included some insights into where CMOs are spending from the eTail Australia Report – Defining the Role of Modern Retail CMOs.

Keynote Case Study: Digitalisation efforts that work – How to build on your e-commerce capabilities to drive huge wins in CRM and customer retention and loyalty

Anthony Grice - Chief Executive Officer, Clark Rubber

This was a great keynote to start the day. According to Anthony, Clark Rubber now has 60 stores, 100 vans and 76 years in the business. Besides servicing Australia’s 2 million pools they are broad specialists in foam and rubber products.

Building eCommerce capability with Anthony Grice  

Anthony spoke about the impact of social, mobile and touch screens. Interestingly Clark Rubber now has an ‘IOT’ mobile app for customers to manage their pools. This helps with balancing chemicals and controlling temperature, pumps and filters. That’s obviously great for ongoing supplies and maintenance.

Swimming pools consume a lot of energy. Anthony pointed out that new variable speed drive pumps are having a big impact on energy savings.

Opening Keynote Panel: Shifting your digitalisation focus from eCommerce to productivity, planning & engagement – How can you improve your predictive capabilities to better automate staff, stock, and inventory (and more) and become a guru at data-driven decisioning making to lead employee & customer engagement

Vinol Joy D’souza – Head of Business Analytics, Carousell (Moderator)

Matthew Mantell – Head of Planning & Supply Chain, Adore Beauty

Scott King – Industry Strategist, Digital Strategy Group, APAC, Adobe

Eugene Chew – Chief Operating Officer, Bikes Online

Never under estimate your talent. Eugene shared the story of a stock employee studying IT that went on to build their data reporting platform. Their data reporting enabled them to forecast and manage their bike inventories more accurately. This has been a critical advantage during the massive peaks and troughs throughout lockdowns and re-openings. It also helped them avoid the unprofitable land grab with certain VC backed e-Bike brands.

Overall this was a great panel on improving productivity, planning & engagement through data and automation. This included trends to personalisation and difficulties with managing a Single Customer View (SCV).

Spotlight Presentation: Growing Your Business in a Bad Economy With Rising Media Costs

Mark Baartse - Consulting Chief Marketing Officer

Mark gave a great presentation on getting the most out of your media budget. A key take away here is that media buying is a commodity. ROI is 47% driven by creative. So don’t focus too much on tools like Google’s Performance Max.

Are you wasting valuable first party data on customer intent? Mark suggests anonymously browsing your website before creating an account. Then check if you managed to collect that browsing data.

Mark Baartse discusses optimising media spend 

Keynote Fireside Chat: As digitally fatigued consumers move out from the shadows of COVID-19, brick and mortar will return to its former glory and eclipse eCommerce as the preferred shopping mode for consumers – do you agree?

Dennis Lewis – MAICD (Moderator)

Marta Skrabacz - Head of eCommerce, Godiva ANZ

Christian McKelvie - Former Head of Marketplace,

Zane Matthews - Head of Retail Operations, Blooms The Chemist

This was a hot topic with varied perspectives from the panelists. The lockdowns clearly upset the balance between online and bricks and mortar (B&M). There is now an element of digital fatigue, but some things have definitely changed. JB Hi-Fi was raised as an example where you can now negotiate prices via online chat. Never the less B&M still offers an immersive experience that cannot be replicated online.

Blooms the Chemist was an exempt business during the lockdowns. Zane talked about splitting their B&M staff into A and B teams to ensure against Covid exposure. Store managers also started running customer deliveries after hours.

Keynote Panel: Weathering the storm: Why partnership marketing is your secret weapon for growth in challenging economic conditions

Peter Bray – Sales Director, APAC, (Moderator)

Rainer Schmid – Head of Digital & Acquisition Channels, Bikes Online

Sarann Ryan – Chief Advisor, Lowes

Philip Abeyratne – Growth & Performance Digital Marketing Lead, Coles

Partnerships and affiliate marketing was a big theme at eTail. Peter Bray gave the example of Zero Co, a business tackling the problem of single use plastics waste (eg detergent bottles). Zero Co runs a ‘Sustainable Schools’ program. Schools can raise funds by getting sales commissions. This is appealing given the program also has a positive environmental impact.

Sarann shared how Lowes also works with schools and trades people for supplying uniforms and work wear. On the other hand, Rainer from Bikes Online works with publishers of bike review articles and social media influencers. Not only is it a good channel for promoting products. It is also good market intelligence. Rainer doesn’t hesitate to pick up the phone and chat with reviewers.

Keynote Panel: Doing more with what you have – With customer acquisition costs sky-high, how can you increase conversion with the existing traffic you have instead of spending more money in a desperate attempt to acquire more traffic?

Costa Koulis – Co-Founder & Co-CEO, Designerex (Moderator)

Nick Blatt – Head of E-Commerce & Digital Customer Experience, Chemist Warehouse

Michelle Rando – Head of Acquisition & Engagement, Mosaic Brands Ltd

Kim Zorn – Global Performance Director, Princess Polly

Chanoknan (Frame) Paladsang – Digital Marketing & eCommerce Lead, Chemcorp

Can personalisation deliver 20%+ increase in sales? It seems SMS messages with ‘secret’ discount codes are working. A Princess Polly customer phoned in expressing distress that her friend saw her code. Worth checking out how they run their rewards program.

Another useful insight is that click and collect is expanding. Anecdotally this is now 35% of online sales for some businesses. Customers want to confirm products are in stock before collecting.

We also heard that TikTok Search is the next gen Google Search. However, for existing customers email represents the lowest cost channel.

Moderator Costa Koulis with Nick Blatt, Michelle Rando, Kim Zorn, and Frame Paladsang 

Keynote Client Case Study: Undie-fied Commerce – How Hanes, Australia’s most recognised apparel and lifestyle brands including Bonds and Sheridan, took their omnichannel payment solutions to the next level by connecting online and offline payments in one system using unified commerce

Jamie Collings – Senior Enterprise Sales, Adyen

Naite Cotterill – Retail Business Process Manager, Hanes Australasia

Jamie and Naite provided a great case study on how Hanes Brands Australasia successfully connected online and offline payments in one system using Adyen for unified commerce. Jamie explained how Adyen uses tokenisation to enable payments across all channels.

For Hanes the critical catalyst appeared to be the increasing complexity of payment options and devices. It seems this became too painful with geographic expansion. They wanted to include things like WeChat and AliPay. Apparently the banks were too costly and slow to respond. Naite also mentioned that outages were becoming an issue.

Omnichannel Payments with Jamie Collings and Naite Cotterill 

Adyen was able to rationalise the number of payment terminals across Hanes stores. They were able to integrate Giving Programs and NPS feedback. Adyen also executes least-cost routing for payments to minimise fees on every transaction.

Integration of payments also improved service and supply chain efficiency. Naite pointed out that customers were able to return online purchases at Hanes Australasia stores. This was a huge benefit since they might find a replacement or buy something else.

Omnichannel discussion at the VIP lunch session hosted by Adyen 

Keynote Guest Speaker: Reality Check on Virtual Worlds

Matt Newell - CEO, The General Store

Renaud Frisé – Director Digital & Technology, The General Store

Matt and Renaud gave us a timely update on all things Web3; The Metaverse, NFTs, POAPS, DAOs, avatars and tokens. We have definitely seen some mind-boggling swings in sentiment and speculation.

Despite all the noise and scams, the computer gaming market provides a solid foundation for eCommerce marketing. There are 3.22 Billion gamers. Surprisingly almost half are female (1.4 Billion). Average age is 35. Some of the big players include Meta, Epic Games, Roblox, nVidia, Shopify, Microsoft and Bytedance. At the other end of the spectrum CityDAO promises better work life balance in a virtual city that runs on blockchain.

According to Matt and Renaud, 40% of Interbrand’s Best Global Brands of 2022 have made moves into Web3 channels. Notably, Nike attracted over 30 million visitors to its Nikeland virtual experience on Roblox. Starbacks Odyssey is experimenting with NFT based loyalty with Nifty Gateway. Walmart uses blockchain and has experimented with virtual shopping. The Iconic introduced web3 to the fashion runway with Runway X.

Raising the most eyebrows, fashion retailer Forever 21 sold over 1.5 million x 70c virtual beanies through their F21 Shop City on Roblox. Apparently, the 3D beanie cost $500 to set up. They are now developing a physical collection based on their virtual products.

Reality check with Renaud Frisé and Matt Newell 

TRACK B: Winning The eCommerce Race

Case Study: Maximising ROI at every stage of the customer journey- How eliminating friction can move your customers from acquisition to checkout at speed

Luke Simonsen - Ecommerce Digital Lead, Petspiration Group (PETstock)

Shane Dwyer- Account Executive, Contentsquare

Winning the eCommerce Race with Shane Dwyerand Luke Simonsen

TRACK B: Winning The eCommerce Race

Case Study: Cart to Customer – How far can we go with dynamic omnichannel fulfilment? Click & Collect? Dark Stores? Hyper Local? 3PLs? Virtual Inventory? What it all means for modern E-tailers.

Geremy Davey GPC SPARC Digital – Chief Technology Officer, GPC Asia Pacific

Geremy wins the prize for the most amusing slides and presentation of the day. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find any to share. Overall this was a very informative presentation about supply chain and fulfillment. One thing I learned over the conference is that a lot of retailers are struggling with this. Australia is an unusually difficult market in that respect.

Geremy Daveyon dynamic omnichannel fulfillment

TRACK C: eCommerce Knowledge Cafe- Making eCommerce Work For B2B

The eTail Knowledge Café provided a chance to talk with business leaders from Australia and around the world in a relaxing and conversational format. We talked about how to build a new eCommerce model using DTC, and also how to harness the power of B2B self service to maximise profits

Knowledge Cafe 1: Building a new eCommerce model for traditional B2B2C businesses like FMCG – How to transcend the old and transform your business model with DTC and marketplaces to take things to the next level

Anvesha Poswalia - Head of Digital & eCommerce, Unilever

Knowledge Café 2: Harness the Power of B2B Self-Service to Maximise Profitability

Scott Rigby - Head of Digital Transformation, Adobe

Latitude Financial Services hosted networking drinks with espresso martinis 


The second day commenced with another welcome address from Lauren Stapleton, followed by opening remarks from day two Chairman, Juan Mendoza, Founder and Editor of  The Martech Weekly.

Opening Keynote: Putting purpose at the centre of your brand – Business as a force for good

Pamela Bishop - Chief Operating Officer, Blooms The Chemist

In her virtual presentation, Pamela argued that Brands can be purpose-led AND profitable. Consumers and employees are seeking purpose. The corporate world should step up to help solve the world’s biggest problems. Some examples:

  • Jeans retailer “Outland Denim” was created to help the fight against human trafficking.
  • Who gives a crap” toilet paper is ensuring everyone has access to clean water and a toilet.


Pamela Bishop presenting virtually 

Keynote Panel: Fighting with multinational giants – How can Australian homegrown business compete with big enterprises and stand out as a unicorn in a saturated market?

Peter Knock - Non Executive Director & Specialist Advisor (Moderator)

Ian Jankelowitz- Head of Customer Everyday Market, Woolworths

Jethro Marks - Chief Executive Officer, The Nile

Prudence Krook - Head of Digital Marketing, Signet

Mike Ainsworth - General Manager, Marketing and Customer, Barbeques Galore

Adam Freedman- Head of Brand & Communications, Booktopia

This all star panel discussed their learnings on the various ways Aussie brands can differentiate and compete with the multinational giants. One of the main strategies discussed was focusing on purpose and making it simple and easy for customers to do business with you. Customer-centricity together with omnichannel and supply chain initiatives are key components.

Joint Keynote: Giving your brand a heartbeat – How to be authentic and make customers feel like they are having a meaningful exchange with your brand when they engage with and purchase from you

Joanna Robinson - Former Chief Marketing Officer, ChaTime

Claire Fabb - General Manager, BEa Agency

I’m assuming both Joanna and Claire are raving Elon Musk fans, but correct me if I’m wrong. It’s hard to deny Tesla is among the most loved brands among its customers. Some would say it’s cultish. They don’t ‘advertise’ and yet there is an epidemic of influencers all over social media. No small part of all this is Elon’s relentless tweeting about everything from his favourite games to how to avoid WWIII. Anyway, I couldn’t help thinking about Elon while listening to Joanna and Claire talking about being authentic.

Key message: Customers relate to brands on an emotional level. As business leaders being authentic and vulnerable can drive positive engagement.

Claire Fabb and Joanna Robinson on being authentic

Keynote: The Future of Retail Media – 3 key trends to know in 2023

Colin Barnard - Managing Director, ANZ, Criteo

Colin provided some data showing Retail Media is now passing Search (Google) and Social Media (Facebook) as the most valuable real estate in digital advertising. Retail Media includes the big eCommerce marketplaces like Amazon. However, this is a much more fragmented market. Every retailer now online can participate.

Retail media is about sponsored products, sponsored display, customer acquisition and retention through partner retailers or on marketplaces. Colin discussed three trends he is seeing.

  1. Formats – More screens and more video. For example Walmart has dynamic digital advertising in stores on their cooler/fridge doors. Different products can be promoted at different times of the day.
  2. Partners – More agencies and APIs. Commerce aggregators such as Uber Eats can deliver in app ads.Connected TV (CTV) partners like The Trade Desk and Roku are being used by larger retailers like Walmart and Kroger for shoppable ads and closed loop reporting.
  3. Dynamics – Moving beyond tools like Google’s Performance Max. These tools seem to make more money for Google, including profiting from people just typing in your URL.

Criteo offers a Retail Media solution called Commerce Max. This is a Demand Side Platform (DSP) for both on and off site retail media. They have a relationship with Magnite for CTV. They are also able to provide omnichannel attribution.

Colin Barnard talks trends in Retail Media 

Question the Leaders: Customer-centricity, a buzzword for ages but few have managed to truly embrace it – How to walk the talk and make customers central to your business decisions

Christopher Fennell - Co-Founder, North Star – Exclusive Certified Partner at Braze (Moderator)

Vicki Slavina- Chief Operations Officer, Koala

David Kahn - Marketing Director, Everten Group

Marta Skrabacz - Head of eCommerce, Godiva ANZ

Ensure your customer service team:

  • Have intimate knowledge and experience with using your products
  • Respond quickly
  • Promote on strength, learn on weakness
  • Convert vocal customers into brand ambassadors
  • Keep website information up to date
  • Report feedback data to guide improvements, direction and strategy

Keynote: Get ahead – email marketing that stands out in the inbox without sacrificing reputation

Nhan Tran - Senior Manager, Customer Success, Validity

Great review of key success factors in email marketing performance. Nhan makes a good case for having a prominent ‘unsubscribe’ or even a ‘snooze’ button. Don’t hide it. Don’t make it difficult. Honestly, if people don’t want your newsletter, you’re better off not sending it to them. It only damages your sender score. If you don’t know what that is, find out at

Another useful strategy is alternating your sender address. Different types of content from different people can improve engagement. Lots of other great email strategies at

Nhan Tran on email marketing performance 

Validity suggests offering a Snooze button for subscribers 

Fireside Chat: Personalisation, a topic discussed year after year – Seriously, what has changed and how have the industry and customers evolved since we last talked?

Mangala Martinus - Managing Director, Payments Consulting Network (Moderator)

Eric Phu - Co-Founder, Citizen Wolf

Sebastian Kümmel - Head of CRM & Personalisation, PetCulture

This session promised no boring bits about personalisation and it delivered. Moderated by ‘Grandpa’ Mangala, as known by his children’s pets.

Sebastian talked about the personalisation of the shopping experience. As an online pet products company it helps to adjust imagery to the pet owner. Owners like to see animals that are similar to their own. Or maybe similar to themselves. This has been a critical success factor in competing online.

Eric talked more about personalisation from the perspective of the product. Citizen Wolf provides fitted T-shirts using its ‘Magic Fit’ sizing process. Essentially they have refined the process of gathering sizing information from the customer. Over time they have worked out how to get closer to a perfect fit with a minimum of detail being provided.

Eric Phu and Sebastian Kümmel talk personalisation with Mangala Martinus  

Keynote Client Case Study: Embrace the Race: An omnichannel guide to winning with a marketplace

Laurence Greenway - Senior Platform Strategy Consultant, Mirakl

Mark Gray - Marketplace Expert, Scentre Group

Online marketplaces have become major players in the world of eCommerce. However, this doesn’t mean physical sales cannibalisation. Bricks and mortar retail also has its place. Laurence and Mark provided a great breakdown on strategies to incorporate in-store with marketplace offerings.

These are their 5 key strategic levers

  • Click and collect
  • Pick-up points
  • Return to store
  • Store to web
  • Loyalty programs

One of the key messages was that you can use marketplaces to support and optimise your retail operations (eg. marketplaces back up for out of stocks). Examples of major retailers using marketplace strategies include Freedom and Bunnings. The big marketplaces in Australia are Amazon, eBay, Catch and Kogan.

Marketplace strategies with Laurence Greenway and Mark Gray 

Keynote Fireside Chat: The journey towards $1b in turnover – Luxury Escapes’ evolution to a technology driven marketplace offering

Adam Schwab - Co-Founder and CEO, Luxury Escapes

John Nichol – Senior Director Business Development, Rokt

We are all familiar with the and Expedia online travel marketplaces. According to Adam Schwab, Luxury Escapes was successful because it identified an opportunity for a niche travel marketplace. It started out with its flash sale business for luxury travel discounts. Since then it has expanded into a multi-product marketplace for curated travel packages. This includes expanding into cruises and experiences.

From the discussion between Adam and John it seems the key to success is personalisation and relevancy. For a marketplace business, this drives value for customers and for partners.

Fireside chat with John Nichol, Rokt and Adam Schwab, Luxury Escapes

TRACK A: Case Study: What every marketer needs to know about AI today

Dean Vocisano - Country Manager AU/NA & SEA, Pixis

Dean provided a great breakdown on Pixis Codeless AI tools for enhancing marketing performance. The tools are ‘codeless’ meaning you don’t need any programming resources to integrate and run them. It exists as a Google Chrome extension, so you can download it and give it a try.

There are three broad applications:

  • Governance AI – Helps optimising broad KPIs for marketing campaigns across platforms.
  • Creative AI – Produces creative ad variations for increasingly targeted personalisation. For example, adjusting wording, layouts and including different people to appeal to different audiences. I believe this is known as DCO or Dynamic Creative Optimisation.
  • Targeting AI – Finding audiences and defining variables for micro personalisation.

For those wondering, Creative AI does not attempt to draw people in the way Dall-e-2 does. I was thinking that could lead to some amusing outcomes. Instead Pixis uses libraries of actual people. Obviously you can also provide your own images.

These tools work together, helping to break down optimisation silos. AI tools like these may become more prominent with increasing trends to micro personalisation, increasing channels and formats (TikTok, Snapchat etc) and the ongoing privacy changes around iOS14 and cookies.

Whenever experimenting with new technologies, Dean recommends always having a control campaign so you can measure results.

AI in performance marketing with Dean Vocisano 

Spotlight Case Study: The rise and disruption of e-commerce causing changes to the customer journey and experience

Judy Deuchar - General Manager, TVSN

Judy Deuchar on live stream marketing

Judy points out TVSN was doing livestream video marketing well before recent trends. However, late night infomercials have now given way to anytime simple streams on TVSN Now. Noted that Amazon also has Amazon Livestream and Walmart has 150 ‘Shop Live’ channels. This is definitely a thing! Nothing beats a polished video to show of your goods.

There is also a social media app dedicated to influencer product reviews. Check out the Qurio social media app from QVC.


APAC Retailer Fireside Chat: Spending power and consumer behaviours in APAC – How do they differ and what to know if you are looking to expand beyond Australia

Muni Vinay Kamisetty - Senior VP, Regional Head of Data and Automation, Corporate Data, Lazada

Mangala Martinus - Managing Director, Payments Consulting Network

If you’re interested in expanding into Southeast Asia, you should be familiar with Lazada. Lazada is the regional flagship of the Alibaba Group since being acquired in 2016. It is the leading eCommerce platform with technology, logistics and payments capabilities. Technology such as Alibaba’s Cloud Intelligence Brain can assist new market entrants in planning rollouts.

Muni suggests there are two broad groups that Lazada services within SE Asia.

  • VIP – Vietnam, Indonesia, Philippines – Remain heavily reliant on cash and cards.
  • MST – Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand. These countries are more advanced with integrated wallets and consistent standards. It is not uncommon for shoppers to shop in-store but have products delivered directly to their homes.

In general, SE Asia consumers are heavier users of Buy Now Pay Later services. There is also a higher incidence and sophistication of fraud, which is why data analytics becomes critical.

Commenting on other Asian countries, Muni pointed out South Korea is very advanced. KakoaBank is one of the first digital banks. Coupang is their leading eCommerce platform.

China has been a heavily regulated market since 2018. There are layers of regulation and it usually requires collaboration. In contrast, India is easy to access. As such Amazon is one of the largest eCommerce platforms in India but not China. Alibaba is one of the major players in China.

Mangala Martinus and Muni Vinay Kamisetty talk APAC expansion strategies

TRACK B: The Rise Of The Conscious Consumer

Spotlight Interview: What does it take to be authentically sustainable?

Kate Baker - Circular Economy and Sustainability Lead, Visy

Mary Proulx - Co-Founder, BREAD Agency

Turns out there’s a good reason for consumer brands to be authentic when it comes to sustainability. Consumers are alert to greenwashing tricks. According to surveys 57% of consumers state that they pay close attention to the environmental impact of what they buy. If you can’t be authentic, it might be better to keep quiet until you can.

Mary Proulx interviews Kate Baker on sustainability  

Thank you Gary Chung, Head of Events Marketing at Worldwide Business Research and Mariel Laximana of Payments Consulting Network for co-ordinating this media coverage at eTail Australia 2023. Thanks to Mark Lang for event photography (Available here).

Author: Ross McIntyre, Associate, Sydney, Payments Consulting Network

Ross McIntyre has over 15 years of experience in data science, financial analysis, and the preparation of business cases, proposals, and strategies. His experience includes business case lead on several end-to-end supply chain reviews, commercial lead on high-level pricing strategies, profit worker design for retail, and business case support for large corporate deals.


Payments Consulting Network is one of the media partners of eTail Australia 2023.

Missed the event? Don’t miss eTail Asia in Singapore on 6-8 June 2023. Retailers get an exclusive 15% off! Simply quote “PCN15” at checkout.


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