Adam Simon

Global Managing Director - Retail
Adam joined CONTEXT in February 2013 to develop the company’s research coverage of ICT and technology. Adam is growing the CONTEXT panel of retailers, bringing fresh thinking to exploit new market opportunities. In 2015 he formed a pan-European Research Group on Smart Home, and in 2016 one on Virtual Reality. He is currently leading CONTEXT research into Omnichannel best practices. Prior to joining CONTEXT, Adam spent his career in professional services, introducing operational best practices in large retailers. He has worked with many of the largest retailers in Europe at senior executive level. Adam is a qualified Chartered Accountant, and has a degree in Modern History from the University of Oxford.
  • Posted on: 11/22/2017

    The RetailWire Christmas Commercial Challenge Global Edition – Debenhams vs. House of Fraser

    Debenhams wins my vote for a cracking good story which we all know well, placed into a modern idiom. People who watch advertisements at this time of year are always keen to know who has made the commercial so they can talk about it (like we are), so for me this is a good brand building exercise. There is a big prize which John Lewis has had for the last few years of being the most talked about Christmas advertisement. The YouTube numbers prove it by the way for Debenhams vs. House of Fraser -- 1.3 million vs. 70,000 views! Leading is JLP with 8.4 million then M&S with 6.2 million and then, a long way behind, Aldi at 2.2 million.
  • Posted on: 11/22/2017

    The RetailWire Christmas Commercial Challenge Global Edition – Debenhams vs. House of Fraser

    I'm with you on this one!
  • Posted on: 11/17/2017

    The RetailWire Christmas Commercial Challenge Global Edition – M&S vs. Sainsbury’s

    First, I am glad you did not choose for this poll the John Lewis advert, which, whilst being the outright winner in so many previous years, seems to have got stuck in a predictable sentimentality and loses impact as a result. Many of the others (e.g., Tesco) seem to have got hung up this year on a rather self-conscious portrayal of multicultural Christmas which has not resonated with the British people. So I think that George Anderson chose the right two to pit against each other. Personally, I vote for Sainsbury's (while respecting esteemed retail expert Neil) because it captures something that we like, which is fun and enjoying ourselves, and takes a risk in changing the image of Sainsbury's from a middle-class to a more popular audience, capturing ground from Asda shoppers, broadening its appeal to the British shopper
  • Posted on: 10/17/2017

    What is the online marketplace opportunity for retailers?

    It works in some countries and not in others. In France many retailers and e-tailers have their marketplaces -- Fnac, Cdiscount, La Redoute, Carrefour (via rueducommerce). in the UK many key retailers have steered away from i -- JLP and Dixons, for example. A lot depends on how much they want to be seen. Curating the offer is a strong part of retail in the UK.
  • Posted on: 09/01/2017

    Will smart homes be sold in living rooms?

    I just had my first in-home smart home survey performed by Maplin, a UK tech retailer which is leading the way on smart homes. It was a very helpful experience. The crux of it is this: Wanting smart home products is not about being a tech geek. It is about linking technology to powerful values, such as peace of mind in your home, protection of your family and your goods -- as well as lifestyle factors like comfort, energy-saving and just being cool. People are prepared to open their homes to achieve these goals. This is therefore a golden opportunity for retailers to get invited in. The Maplin offering included seven separate set-up/service opportunities. After that, the secret is to get into an ongoing revenue stream, such as maintenance of the smart home.
  • Posted on: 02/10/2017

    Will in-home consults give Amazon the keys to the smart home market?

    Amazon has got it right. In order to cross the chasm from the early adopters to the mass market, a lot of hand-holding is necessary. For example there are specialist e-tailers with top TrustPilot scores, definitely not Amazon, who spend hours on the phone talking people through their pre-sale needs, and then after sales when necessary. Echo is storming the market -- numbers published in the FT recently showed a progression from 2.5 million last June to 5 million in November and 9 million by January after the Christmas period. Amazon have a window which they are exploiting well to become the reference technology for the home.
  • Posted on: 12/13/2016

    The RetailWire Christmas Commercial Challenge: Macy’s vs. Target

    Macy's wins for me — great vox pop with the kids so nicely done and right in the heart of the Christmas message. Target was pretty cool, and I can see young people enjoying it, so there is a chance as Mohamed Amer said, that it may develop a life on the internet. Target's was too long, everyone agrees on that, but who knows, maybe they just invented a new longer category. It still intrigues me why the commercials have not caught on in the US as they have in the UK — John Lewis Christmas ad is currently at 23 million views.
  • Posted on: 12/12/2016

    Is in-store videoconferencing omnichannel’s logical next step?

    I would like to see videoconferencing used in-store and routed back to experienced associates in a shared service center. That way you get the footfall in-store with potential upsell and you get the customer experience. What is disappointing in today's shopping experience is store associates who are not always experts in the products you want to buy. It is time stores started investing in Wi-Fi -- that is at the bottom of the Maslow Pyramid for people and permits the deployment of so much retail technology as well as the demonstration of Wi-Fi-connected objects.
  • Posted on: 12/01/2016

    The RetailWire Christmas Commercial Challenge Global Edition – Week 1

    The British are sentimental and never more so than when it comes to Christmas. The festive season evokes warmth, family, kids, times gone by, innocence ... and spending lots of money. That’s why we love the videos and why retailers spend so much money on them -- because they get us in the mood for this season and prepare us for this annual fest of buying. In no other country is there any similar phenomenon -- our closest neighbor in terms of consumerism is the U.S. and the Macy’s Christmas advert is currently showing 67,000 views compared to the 20+ million for Buster the Boxer, the leading advertisement by John Lewis. Retailers run the risk of a PR backfire -- this year John Lewis has received a flurry of criticism from parents who say that this year’s advertisement will stop children from believing in Father Christmas (“why does the father put up the trampoline and not Father Christmas?”) and wildlife charities (“we rescue hundreds of wild animals caught in netting in people’s gardens”). The number of dislikes this year of the John Lewis advertisement is already 5,300+ whereas last year’s sits at 3,500. The benefits of a successful advertisement come through TV coverage creating brand awareness and driving footfall, and through social media. A YouTube channel is like a second website and a successful Christmas advertisement drives traffic -- the consumer who loves the TV ad will be drawn into the retailer's channel. The John Lewis YouTube channel has, for example, 113,000 subscribers, compared to Macy’s which has 36,000, and on that channel there are hundreds of product and service videos. Christmas TV ads are a particularly British way of driving the omnichannel shopping experience.
  • Posted on: 11/14/2016

    Where are the omnichannel metrics?

    In old retail the key metric was what was sold and when — this is what POS systems tell you — logistics was a backroom operation. In new retail the where sold, where originated and the how is as important as the what and when. The drama of the change which Chris talks about is that in most retailers, the POS and logistics systems do not speak to each other. So now retailers are having to think how to link their systems together, and this involves expense and time which they cannot afford in the race to become omnichannel. In the meantime analytics capabilities will be a key support for retailers to achieve the tracking of these vital new omnichannel indicators.
  • Posted on: 11/11/2016

    Will Donald Trump’s presidency be good for retailers?

    If President-elect Trump thinks that running the US is like running a corporation, then the US is in for a difficult time. Politics is the art of the possible and he will have to learn to accommodate his strongly held views with other vested interests. Conflict will lead to uncertainty which will lead to lower consumer confidence and will be bad for retail. He could learn from the style of Margaret Thatcher, the so-called Iron Lady. She was tough but she knew how to make compromises — she conceded to the miners (all powerful union interest) who had undone the previous Conservative Government, and then, having stocked up one year's worth of coal reserves at power stations, she took them on. Only at the end of her career did she lose her instinctive political flair. Trump has undoubtedly got a populist flair, but I am not convinced that he will be a successful politician. It is amazing to think he is in the highest office in the world without ever having served in any political role!
  • Posted on: 11/09/2016

    How to use e-mail to engage past customers

    It's all in the title — if you can just have enough interest in the title line, you then can achieve the goal of getting the customer to open the email. Then you have a few seconds to grab them with the content inside the email. No more than 2-3 paragraphs because people want to be able to scan read very quickly — the first line of each paragraph is key.
  • Posted on: 11/05/2016

    Does increased consumer confidence translate to retail profits?

    When the Brexit vote took place in June, consumer confidence plummeted and retail sales went up, the first time that such a phenomenon had been observed. Consumer confidence has since come back, but our own private polling shows that there is much consumer uncertainty. Given the parallel uncertainties now in the US, I would be very prudent in correlating consumer confidence to increased sales in the holiday period.
  • Posted on: 11/05/2016

    Should browser data be opt-in only?

    Retailers are used to living with the choice of their customers and to compete for their attention. They will, therefore, find ways of working with customers who share their digital presence and those who don't. Opinions in the BrainTrust and other respondents are interestingly divided — 62% say that the internet experience will be better for consumers and 38% say it will be worse. In my view, it will be worse because retailers and others will be able to target them less efficiently and it will be better because we will have enshrined the right of privacy and protect ourselves from the terrifying consequences mentioned by Jasmine Glasheen.
  • Posted on: 11/04/2016

    Will the Chase Pay option help Walmart increase mobile payments?

    Chip and pin would be my priority before mobile payments. That way retailers make a big statement about protecting their customers credit cards.
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