Q&A: Mike Dowson, Commercial Director of Trust Systems Limited
An expert panelist at our DIGITAL TRANSFORMATION STRATEGY event on May 20, Mike is the Commercial Director of Trust Systems Limited, a digital consultancy, managed services and technology company. Mike has a vast and demonstrable experience of working in the design and delivery of technology and digital services. With his excellent network in the industry, Mike has a strong understanding across an array of sectors including Retail, Hospitality and Enterprise business.
Mike is focused on building long term strategic relationships with customers with a clear approach to build solutions and services based on value, quality and innovation for customers. Mike has worked for various leading technology companies where he has clearly demonstrated a creative approach using technology as an enabler to build better businesses.
Can you tell us a bit about your background?
My career began in hospitality, so from the very start people and providing them with the best products and services has always been my focus. I attribute my success to ensuring I listen and understand the customer’s needs, at the right time challenging their perspective of what they think they need and delivering a service/solution that makes sense and delivers benefit and longevity. When speaking to businesses throughout my interactions I am wanting to effectively collaborate to achieve something great together.
What does your company do/ What is your USP?
What sets our business apart is our ethos. I am proud of what we have achieved at Trust and throughout the team we are focused on delivering to our customers. We have an ability to listen, challenge, consult, collaborate in order to innovate. Our passion is born from using the best technology to make the difference. With our breath of expertise, we build technology to serve business purpose.
What is special about the platform and your approach?
Working with retailers we have the technology building blocks to reinvent their stores, truly offering an immersive and integrated journey from online to store to aftersales. By utilising mobile, digital and cloud technology our solutions are cost effective and quick to deploy. Let me add some credibility to that statement, our mobile stock solution is delivered on Android and the technology offers 2 crucial benefits 1. Lower costs of devices and maintenance of the device 2. Quicker to deploy with open technology enabling integration through API’s to business data. For a large high street retailer Trust rolled out 859 devices to 800 stores in 6 weeks. During the pilot the solution demonstrated clear ROI in productivity along with increase in sales as stock gaps were radically reduced. This led the customer to request our business to deliver the roll-out in 3 months rather than 6 months as planned. We listened to our customer and due to our agility we deployed the solution to 800 stores in 6 weeks. Since then, the retailer has doubled its footprint and rolled out to its European stores.
Another example is a roll-out to a well-known supermarket of our managed digital signage solution. Not only did we deploy over 2000 screens to 700+ stores in the matter of months, we collaborated with our customer to deliver more than screens. Our solution considers the housing of the screen to be aesthetically sympathetic to the brand and existing furnishings. We also manage the solution with 24/7/365 service desk and a 7 days a week field service team. But crucially we have also deployed a content management system that has enabled our customer to experience ROI they couldn’t have factored in e.g. when the government guidelines changed quickly messaging was deployed within the hour to regions of the country where applicable.
The point I am trying to make is when we work with customers, we are an integral part of enhancing their business strategy and wherever they see the key priorities to deliver digital transformation we have the expertise and the technology to support this.
What advantage does this add?
As many of you may have read earlier this year, we secured a partnership with NVM Investments. Our business has experienced great growth over the past few years and as a management team we wanted to harness this and invest in future growth. Fundamental to this success has been the fact that we are personal, we are responsive, and we are on our customers side. We go above and beyond to make it our mission to understand our customers problems to build real solutions working with aggressive deadlines to make things happen.
What does a product / service implementation look like – how do you measure success?
Core to our offering is the layer no one sees, but are always quick to notice a problem – the network. Robust, reliable, and flexible connectivity has never been more vital when retailers are adding the customer facing tools and technology. One blimp in your network could result in your customers not being able to connect, the experience is tarnished, and the customer is disappointed. We also have a suite of applications to support a stores ambitions to deliver that exceptional customer journey along with delivering operational efficiencies and aiding your in-store team to add value. From Mobile Stock Management to Digital Signage to POS and Payments we can support retailers. Going back to connectivity and the connection of online to store we also have the ability to harness the wealth of data and really bring it alive. With our Guest WiFi and presence solutions we can take the information you have on your customers online behavior and translate it into relevant content in-store. For example, the jeans they were looking at last night, when they enter your store why not direct them to the location and advise them what stock is in situ. Also, that they come in different colours and if you buy 2 you get 10% off.
What challenges and opportunities do you see in UK retail for 2021 / What challenges are retailers facing right now to prepare better?
As we approach the halfway mark of 2021 and as guidelines ease and we all feel more optimistic about life returning to more of a ‘normal’ state we truly believe that if the bricks and mortar experience is done right it has an integral part to play for consumer interactions and the retailers recovery. Look at Primark, no online presence and their opening resulted in queues and a surge in sales. People still want to go to a physical shop. Our message is simple ‘doing nothing is not an option’ it is time to listen to your customers who want a blended experience, listen to your staff and provide them with the tools and knowledge to add value to the physical experience. A simple investment in your store operations is fundamental to ensure you have the right stock. Anybody today trying to provide a Click and Collect service for example, without a real-time view of stock is only going to create customer dissatisfaction. Nobody wants to see a product advertised online or at the store entrance to find it is either not ranged or ‘Sold out’.
How will you address these challenges and turn them into success?
Retailers need a multi-faceted approach as I explained above, they need to invest in an effective operation, an amazing customer experience, and their people. We offer technology solutions that are flexible, robust, work in real-time, harness your data/intel and give you longevity. By building on this and combining digital assets with operational tools the level of integration and consistency you deliver will give customers ‘One Ultimate Experience’ the nirvana of retail.
If the pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that the balance can be swung – whatever we do we need to be in a position to meet the unexpected, keep our minds sharp and ensure we build businesses that can sustain and flex against uncertainty and an ever-changing landscape. Those businesses that will thrive are those that have taken positive steps, you need to go get it, it won’t come to you. There is a need to stay relevant – history will not take you into the future.
To find out how Trust Systems can help your retail operation, click here.
If you would like to view the session that Mike joined on the 20th May for the event on Retail Digital Transformation, please see HERE