Angus Stewart, Head of IT at East, takes a look at the current retail trends and what he's look forward to seeing at the Retail Business Technology Expo
Q: What’s the next big thing in retail?
A: I believe it’s got to be moving away from priority stock by location. Retailers should hold common stock at each store but have access to all stock, with the ability to deliver to store home within hour based slots.
Q: Biggest challenge to current business?
A: To fully understand customers needs and requirements. If you can do that, you’re home and dry.
Q: What is your biggest headache in your job right now?
A: It has to be suppliers over selling and under delivering. People will promise you the world and won’t deliver it. If they were honest and said this is what you will get today, then in three months you will get this, six months you will have this and by this time next year you will have the complete solution, we would all be happier.
Q: Most exciting or promising technological developments?
A: A manufacturing device similar in size and functionality to the iPhone. A handheld device that’s developed enough to manage sales, stock look up, reporting and also runs the website. We are moving away from the concept of a dumb terminal fixed till point.
Q: How important is mobile, social networking, internet retailing and the cloud to retailers?
A: I think it’s essential. The whole way we think about communicating is changing. Networks and communications no longer run along discreet lines, whether it’s the telephone or one-to-one, everything is more multiple.
Q: What do you hate about exhibitions and wish would change?
A: Bad food, boring sales pitches and not enough fun gadgets to take away. They need to be more innovative. They seem outdated in their concept and execution.
Q: What, if anything, do you love about exhibitions?
A: It’s always nice to meet, face-to-face, people that work for other companies - suppliers, for example, that you would not normally meet. You don’t always want to set up an official meeting, so exhibitions are a good opportunity for introductions.
Q: What would you like to see at Retail Business Technology Expo?
A: I would like to see something that makes me stop in my tracks and really want to know more about. Something really innovative, new and useful. A business tool or concept that is a step ahead.
Q: Best retail CRM example you have seen or experienced?
A: There are two retailers that do this exceptionally well. The first is White Stuff. The way they fully integrate marketing with their customers shopping and behaviour is second to none. And secondly, Apple. When you buy a new laptop or Mac, you are immediately sent an email to explain how to set-up the machine and who to contact if you need help. Shortly after, you are sent an invitation inviting you to your nearest store to be shown all the clever stuff – the level of engagement engendered in the Apple customers is phenomenal.
Q: Whose job would you most like?
A: Something at Apple. I would love to head up one of the development teams. They are such an exciting company.
Q: What is your favourite ‘gadget’ (work or personal)?
A: iPhone 4.
Angus Stewart was speaking to the organisers of Retail Business Technology Expo as part of the 'Talking Shop' campaign.
Published February 2011