Reflecting on 2023 and Shaping the retail Future: Insights from vvast’s PEAK Advisory Board Meeting

As the world of digital commerce continues to evolve at a breakneck pace, staying ahead of the curve is crucial for businesses aiming to thrive in this competitive landscape. vvast, a dynamic player in this field, recently reconvened its PEAK Advisory Board to reflect on the year that was, 2023, and cast an eye toward the emerging trends and challenges that 2024 might bring.

The 2023 Overview: Diversification and Growth

2023 was a year of substantial growth for vvast both in our ethics through becoming purpose led, our Gross Merchant Value (GMV) for our brands and our incredible team. At the heart of this growth lay a fundamental shift in revenue streams. Historically known for its percentage-of-net-revenue commission model, vvast decided to diversify its income sources. One notable expansion was the foray into large bespoke CapEx development, design, and build projects, leveraging our £1m+ investment in our vvastify Shopify product. This move signified more than just diversification; it hinted at the possibility of vvast entering the realm of Software as a Service (SaaS) alongside its core agency model.

This diversification strategy yielded impressive results. vvast’s success did not go unnoticed, and it led to a promising enhanced partnership with e-commerce giant Shopify. This collaboration reflects vvast’s strategic thrust toward expanding its SaaS business and integrating innovative products like proactive commerce into Shopify’s ecosystem. This partnership opened doors to new opportunities, particularly for established brands navigating the intricacies of legacy systems. It has marked a transformative pivot in vvast’s business model.

Community Engagement and Partner Strategy Evolution

One of the highlights of the PEAK Advisory Board meeting was Stuart’s insights into the ever-evolving tech enterprise sales space. Stuart emphasised the transformation of partner strategies from traditional referral methods to what he termed “near bound” strategies. In this paradigm, partners were no longer merely lead sources, but became integral to amplifying overall marketing efforts.

This shift wasn’t confined to specific teams but had evolved into a company-wide perspective. It encompassed customer retention, product strategy, and importantly, collaboration among partners. The trend in technology purchasing was clear: buyers valued trust and genuine connections over a ‘hope it sticks’ approach. This marked a significant departure from the past, where content was often the primary driver of purchasing decisions.

To address the challenges posed by changes in tracking, particularly in response to browser updates like Chrome, vvast was actively developing a cookieless framework. This innovation aims to navigate the changing digital landscape effectively.

Web3 Developments: Embracing the Future

James delved into the exciting realm of Web3. The focus was on developing community engagement tools with loyalty rewards at their core, built on the principles of blockchain technology. The goal was to create a Web3 loyalty rewards platform accessible through various applications.

Acknowledging the challenges faced by the Web3 space, including the FTX exchange collapse and associated controversies, James underscored the vast opportunities beyond mere investments. Recent regulatory approvals, such as the Bitcoin ETF, signalled growing institutional interest in cryptocurrencies. Some regulatory clarity indicated that NFTs might be excluded from certain regulations, opening doors for broader participation.

James highlighted the need for enhanced user experiences in the Web3 space. Cryptocurrency can be a labyrinthine world, with complexities like wallets, keys, and gas fees. vvast was actively experimenting with technologies to streamline and simplify these processes. Notably, Visa’s announcement of a Web3 multi-platform validated vvast’s ideas, reinforcing the belief that there is room for smaller players with an ethos of “relentless R&D” in this rapidly evolving landscape.

The Value of Branding: A Case Study from the US 2024 Surf Expo in Florida, USA

JL offered valuable insights into the significance of branding, using a case study from the Surf Expo in the USA. He emphasised the importance of localised merchandising and highlighted the trend toward promoting destination-specific products in stores. Core retailers, he noted, were increasingly focusing on brands with a clear vision that effectively communicated with consumers.

JL also discussed the impact of brand licensing decisions by ABG, which prompted some brands to reconsider their strategies. He stressed the need for improved showrooms in the US to present products more effectively, underlining the critical role of physical retail spaces in brand representation.

Conclusion: Shaping the Future Together

2023 was a positive and transformative year for vvast. We embarked on a journey of diversification, revenue expansion, and strategic partnerships, setting the stage for sustainable growth in the years to come.

The PEAK Advisory Board meeting concluded on a positive note, with a shared commitment to further discussions and the possibility of future events. 

As vvast embarks on the journey of 2024, these insights from the meeting provide valuable guidance in navigating the evolving landscape of digital commerce. They are also a vital part of our purpose led governance alongside vvast’s newly formed AI steering group and Environmental Governance Group, or EGG as the vvast team say internally.

The year ahead promises both challenges and opportunities, and vvast is well-positioned to embrace them, thanks to the collective wisdom of its PEAK Advisory Board. The commitment to shaping the future, in partnership with these seasoned industry experts, will undoubtedly lead to exciting developments in the world of digital commerce.

Stay tuned for more updates as vvast continues to innovate and adapt to the ever-changing digital retail commerce landscape.