The online retail sector is currently experiencing exponential growth but could still benefit from following the lead of industries such as aviation, according to a senior executive with experience in both fields.
Former British Airways chief information officer (CIO) and current CIO at John Lewis Paul Coby pointed out that the recent expansion in the online side of the retail market is something that occurred in the airline business some years ago.
Speaking to Computerworld UK, Mr Coby said retail can "learn a lot from the air transport world".
He pointed out that aviation went through the "digital web revolution" between 2002 and 2004, during which period British Airways' online sales volume climbed from five per cent to 40 per cent of all bookings.
"Retail in the UK is now going through that," said Mr Coby.
"At John Lewis our sales are at 25 per cent online and it is growing at about 25 per cent year on year. Having been through that explosive growth already, I think airlines understand a lot about the fast transition."
However, the industry representative also highlighted an area where aviation can learn from retail - using data analytics and building up a strong understanding of customers' needs and interests.
There is a noticeable trend in the air transport world of professionals looking at the examples set by the retail sector and considering a similar approach to customer engagement, according to Mr Coby.
Online commerce continued to perform strongly in May this year, according to recent figures, with sales of non-food items increasing by 12.4 per cent from the same time in 2011.
Related services such as cheap parcel delivery were likely to have benefited as sales growth returned to levels more consistent with the 12-month average.
The British Retail Consortium and KPMG revealed that overall sales values for the month were up 1.3 per cent on a like-for-like basis from May 2011.
Author: Adrian Medland