Q & A: James Stark, Account Director, UK and Nordics, Merchant Services at Worldline
James is one of the Account Directors at Worldline, looking after several of the largest strategic relationships in the retail space.
Can you tell us a bit about your background?
My name is James Stark. I’m one of the Account Directors at Worldline and I look after several of the largest strategic relationships in the retail space.
I have been with Worldline for the best part of 10 years now and in total I have spent around 14 years in the payments arena, all within customer management roles and 20 years in customer service positions within the retail environment. It is an exciting role, and no two days are ever the same.
What would you say is Worldline’s USP?
I genuinely believe that it’s our credentials that set us apart from our competitors. We do exactly what we say we’re going to do, when we say we are going to do it. I like to say that we always under-promise and seek to over-deliver. In a marketplace where stability, knowledge and assurance are key drivers to any decision-making process, first and foremost we must ensure we are a really safe pair of hands. Our credentials are therefore critical and our enviable and demonstrable reputation is one that has had to be built up over time.
So, what sets Worldline apart in terms of your approach?
I would say this is our consultancy approach. Our whole ethos is about engaging with clients early, whether that be new business or an existing relationship, and building a solution pathway that aims to fix a problem or add an enhancement to that customer journey. We don’t believe in pushing products and solutions for the sake of it. We work in a collaborative partnership with our clients to fix problems and help them set themselves apart with their customers. It’s very much an engaged two-way process, rather than sell, sell, sell. Trust is at the heart of everything. It’s hard to build but very easy to lose.
What advantages does working with Worldline bring?
Some of those elements we have already touched on – transparency, being easy to deal with, pragmatic – everything that you’d expect from a good partner. But first and foremost, our solutions have got to be best in class, and that’s absolutely what they get: best in class payment solution, best in class hardware, and most importantly, best in class people as well, with the widest possible skill sets. That’s what really sets us apart.
Can you talk me through what the product service implementation process looks like, and how you measure the success of that process?
We work very closely and regularly with our clients to constantly evaluate their roadmap and ascertain their needs. We constantly talk about problems, solutions, issues and opportunities. We try and do that as a collective, and we do that through ongoing engagement.
One of the key elements in my role is to bring all the sides and relevant skill sets together to ensure we’re all talking about the required solution and how we can then bring that forward for the client. It’s about making sure that the solution fits and the technical people, who are really the gatekeepers to that, making sure that everything stacks up and will fix the problem, issue or opportunity.
So, solution first, commercial second. We will collectively identify and agree on the solution and then work on the commercial delivery path for that solution, building a multi-disciplinary project team to ensure this is then delivered upon. Ultimately it is about being incredibly collaborative and keeping our promises.
What do you think are the current challenges and opportunities facing the retail industry for the rest of 2022 and beyond?
I think retail has some challenging years ahead. I am hearing that from a lot of my clients and the cost-of-living crisis is very much at the heart of their strategic planning. People have less money and yet with rising costs, retailers must increase prices, so it is a vicious cycle we are currently in. There are always some retailers who will be squeezed by economic backdrop more than others and some who will enjoy success. Against such a backdrop, from a retailer’s perspective I think it is more a case of “keeping hold of the basket” rather than necessarily increasing it i.e. retaining customers is paramount, through understanding and reacting empathetically to shoppers’ changing habits and requirements.
So how do you take these client challenges and help them to turn these challenges into successes?
Ultimately, where our value proposition can help is that a truly great payment solution works in the background. It is ‘seen and not heard’. So, we bring a best-in-class solution with a best-in-class uptime, so that the customer doesn’t need to worry about their payment solution. Likewise, they don’t need to worry about customer dissatisfaction at the most crucial point within that journey. They can be confident in their brand being in safe hands, allowing them to concentrate on their business and we deliver peace of mind.
What’s on the horizon for Worldline in the retail space?
I think we are at beginning of a very exciting journey for both our customers and our business. Our product suite is broadening to address an ever-changing world. Customer needs and demands have changed, and our solutions have evolved beyond traditional payment ecosystems. I feel we a responsibility to help drive and evolve the overall shopping experience within our customers’ environment. We continue to innovate and push boundaries and it truly feels like we are just getting started. So, I would say “watch this space” as there are exciting times ahead.
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