Q&A: Ed Lawrenson, Head of Product, One iota
What does your company do? / What is your USP?
Working with global brands including JD Sports, HUGO BOSS, Superdry and The Foschini Group, One iota helps retailers improve the customer experience across multiple channels to drive sales conversion.
What’s special about the platform and your approach?
We have a strong focus on verifiable ROI. Through our experience and the out-of-the-box solutions we have created, we have learned a lot of lessons. When a retailer comes to us looking to make more of what they have through the use of technology, we are able to massively accelerate that process. Our experience has taught us that the best method is to work on areas that will drive a quick ROI, then use the proceeds of that to re-invest further. It’s a proven strategy that has paid dividends for our clients.
How does a product/service implementation actually look like and how do you measure success?
Typically ROI and benchmarks are reviewed before the point that a customer even signs up. We have a clear delivery plan and once the solution is live, everyone is aligned around what needs to be achieved. To do that goes beyond just delivering the solution, a lot of the success of these projects is in the implementation and staff adoption. We place a great emphasis on this and it’s the area where our experience is most beneficial. In terms of implementation, we recognise that no two retailers are the same. We’ve known that from the start, so we’ve designed our approach to factor it in and make integrating with what can be tricky or legacy systems, as easy as possible. Too many businesses fall into the trap of waiting for system changes and upgrades to deliver new projects that will drive profit and growth. From our extensive experience, we know that sometimes getting quick wins today can have an enormous impact on the business. We have seen this with those clients who act in an agile way, and are now leaders in their multi-channel approach.
How are retailers using your systems to gain competitive advantage and what does best practice look like?
The competitive advantage is simple. Do the things that serve your customers better, and they will reward you with more business. The pinnacle of this is to have a seamless, personalised shopping experience so that the customer receives the best possible, and more relevant, service for them, regardless of how they choose to shop. That can extend to many aspects of the customer journey or business processes, but this guiding principle can be applied to any technology project. Start with the fundamental question of whether a specific project will help to achieve the goal.
The wealth of experience our development team has with the range of AWS services available, allows us to innovate whilst keeping development and infrastructure costs relatively low. New services are regularly released and our partnership with Amazon means we can keep on top of these and integrate them into our platform, which in turn benefits our clients.
What advantage does it add?
A better, more personalised experience for the customer, and in turn more sales for you.
What challenges and opportunities do you see in UK retail for 2019 / What challenges are retailers facing in 2019?
The challenges facing retail are well documented and we’re currently in the middle of a wide scale transformation of the industry as a whole. Clearly that presents enormous opportunities, when consumer preferences are entrenched it is more difficult to enter the market or grow. When things are in a state of flux, those retailers who act fast and take opportunities presented to them, will have the chance to grow exponentially. An example of this is the boom and success of fast fashion online retail, where a number of new players have emerged and achieved huge success. Consumer spending has been rising year on year, it’s just the way that people are choosing to spend their money that has changed.
How will you address these challenges and turn them into successes?
There are two primary areas where we are working with retailers to take advantage of these opportunities. First is to use data and analytics to refine and optimise the current way of doing things – helping retailers to serve up the right content at the right time, so customers benefit from a personalised shopping experience across any digital touchpoint.
Second is to use our technology platform and experience to quickly spin up new ideas, test them and evaluate the outcomes. This can be used as a springboard to find the areas of future growth and ensure retailers can act fast to make the most of sales opportunities across all channels.
What is on the horizon for you as a company?
We have a vision for how to use AI and ML to drive future shopping experiences. If you imagine a concierge and personal shopping experience at a high end department store as the current benchmark, and think about the parts of that experience that make it special. How can AI and personalisation be used to make aspects of that available for the general customer in any store. We think there is a lot of opportunity to do so and we are working hard to make developments in these areas.
Any final thoughts?
Change brings opportunity, so it’s a very exciting time to be involved in the retail market.
Bio: Ed Lawrenson, Head of Product, One iota
Having joined One iota in 2012 as Client Solutions Manager, Ed is now Head of Product, a role in which he works closely with existing customers to develop their solutions, as well as conceiving innovative new products to offer to the retail market.
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