Martyn Osborne has been at the helm of Flooid’s EMEA operation for around a year but his 24 years in the business means he has watched first-hand as retail – one of the first sectors to be radically challenged by technology – transformed to accommodate the shifting demands of consumers. For him, the big changes have been not online per se, but the way online has affected the physical retail experience.
“I would say the big change has been online and not only because of the shift to online spending but how online affects the store,” he says. “You need to have an integrated shopping experience so that people who buy online can collect in store, or somebody who is in the store can then reach out and look at inventory and products that are elsewhere.”
And what’s his approach to running a company that offers a seamless backend for physical or online retail – unified commerce, as Flooid calls it? “What’s important is to have the ability to know the detail without knowing everything. When I’m talking to customers, there are a lot of leaders, and they have to bring in an army of people on a call to answer a single question.
“I believe in empowering the workforce to do their job, but it's essential to know what’s going on in the operations room. If I know what’s going on, and with my 30-odd years in this marketplace I can head off challenges that might be coming ahead.
“I work on a culture in a culture of openness with my staff, and I think my style with the customer is the same – it’s very open. All of the EMEA customers I’m responsible for, I speak with them regularly. I’ll touch base with those guys at least on a monthly basis, even if there’s nothing to say. They need to know they’re important to you and they need to know there’s a face at the end of that chart on the website who they can reach out to if they’ve got a problem or if they have something that needs solving.”
Osborne also believes that communication is key, and with face-to-face meetings off the table while Covid-19 restrictions are in place, he’s been careful to make sure customers have a regular slot in which to talk to him. “It’s not just challenges and opportunities,” he adds, “It’s also the best way to learn. It’s a good way of finding out what’s happening in the retail community.”
“My relationship is about high contact with our staff, and high contact with our customers. Only if you really know what’s going on in the business can you really know what needs to change or modify going forward.”
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The fundamental question is always how much control am I willing to lose versus how much risk I want to reduce when moving to the cloud, and then making a choice based on the business value