Q&A: Luca Cassina, President, Retail, Planet
Luca has over 20 years’ experience in retail, ecommerce, and payments, and comes from Mirakl, a French cloud-based e-commerce software company providing online marketplace software to retailers.
He also ran the Fashion Marketplace at Amazon Europe and held various senior leadership roles at PayPal, including serving as Managing Director of Western Europe. He joined Planet in August 2022. Luca is originally Italian but has been living in Paris for the last 10 years with his wife and 2 daughters.
What does your company do? What is your USP?
Planet provides integrated software, payment and technology solutions for its Global customers in Hospitality and Retail sectors. For Retail, we help our customers deliver amazing shopper experiences by connecting Payments, Software and Tax Free on a single Retail platform. This drives greater loyalty, increases their revenue and also saves them time. We’re present in all continents, across 120 countries with 15,000 retail customers.
We have a large range of products – Gateways integrated with payments, acquiring services, Currency Conversion, Tax-Free shopping and we do software with our Order Management System.
What’s special about the platform and your approach? What advantage does it add?
We don’t see ourselves as just a payment company. We’re building a Payments and Software ecosystem where payment is just naturally integrated and in this ecosystem we want to partner with other software providers because this is what our customers want. They want an easy and quick integration and to use payment methods that can easily be utilised without spending time, energy and resources in technical development. So we’re working with partners to build what we call connectors or plugins, which are a sort of a bridge between software and payment.
How does a product/service implementation actually look like and how do you measure success?
The best implementation is the one that you don’t really see. It’s the one that is a copy and paste – something that can be done quickly, using off the shelf software. And the competitive advantage not just for us, but also for our customers is that they will spend less time and money integrating payments – all they’ll need to do is just configure and plan it into their system which is a key measure of success.
How are retailers using your systems to gain competitive advantage and what does best practice look like? Can you share a case study with us?
We believe that the world is going in the direction of composable commerce, and this system is a bit like bricks of Lego. Planet has all these different bricks and our customers just take they ones they need. There are other companies that try to sell you everything – the entire Lego set – so you can only work with them and they give you all services from the beginning to end. We’re not forcing our customers to work with us along all the value chain, which is a competitive advantage, because it allows our customers to cherry pick the best product according to their needs. And so they may have a product from us, a product from someone else. This is why this notion of an ecosystem of partnerships is so important in a composable commerce system because different bricks need to be all the same size or simple to plug into each other.
Are there other companies you partner with?
Partners are very important at Planet, and we work with many technology partners and financial partners which comprises a large ecosystem – ranging from E-commerce platforms, till systems, system integrators, banking partners and more. Of course our most precious partners are our customers, and we have some who’ve been happy to share their stories with us here.
What challenges and opportunities do you see in UK retail for 2023 / What challenges are retailers facing in 2023?
With inflation and the cost-of-living crisis, political instability and the situation in Middle East, and the Ukraine war, there is uncertainty on how 2024 will play out. Both consumers and businesses are cautious.
We have seen the macro-economic conditions improving in US, but we don’t know how and when this will do the same in Europe. For UK retail specifically, we are still hearing from Retailers about the economic impact the removal of Tax-Free shopping is having on them, and we continue to drive awareness of this and support the campaign to reinstate it.
How will you address these challenges and turn them into successes?
Technology is key to address some of these problems. In the last couple of decades the winners were the ones that were using technology to their advantage – it happened with the with the crisis in in 2008 and it happened during COVID. Its paramount to have a perfect customer experience, as shoppers are not as loyal when there is uncertainty and financial pressures, they tend to be very careful and will go to competitors.
It’s important now to get the basics right in Retail – the ability to never say no to a customer is key – for example if they want to shop in-store but it’s not available so they need to buy online, and then they might want to have it delivered, or come back and collect from another store – you need all these options and more. And customers don’t want to pay three times because one product is unavailable, they want to pay only once. Retailers that cannot offer these hybrid journeys get left behind and the payment is the glue between all these different channels.
What is on the horizon for you as a company?
We are on transformation journey from a Tax-Free company into a Payments & Software leader.
We have big ambitions for Planet and we want to be an important player in the retail ecosystem, as we continue to drive our Connected Commerce strategy. We’re here to stay – and we’re just getting started!
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