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PAUL BROOKES, CHIEF DIGITAL OFFICER, TOM DIXON STUDIO
OMNICHANNEL STRATEGY IN RETAIL
For our next ‘Mode Meets’ article we interview Paul Brookes, an expert in E-Commerce and Omni Channel Retail. Having grown up in the countryside of North East Derbyshire, he moved to London at the age of 25 to pursue his career in retail. Paul has worked for a number of highly regarded retailers and lifestyle brands, both in the UK and overseas, including Selfridges and The Conran Shop. Having recently been appointed as Chief Digital Officer & Managing Director EMEA at the leading British interior and design brand Tom Dixon Studio, we sat down with Paul to hear his thoughts on the omni channel offering within the retail industry.
HOW DID YOU GET INTO THE RETAIL AND WHAT DO YOU ENJOY MOST ABOUT IT?
Actually by accident, but it stuck. I enjoy the mixture of people, product, (at last) technology and innovation.
WHAT WAS THE BIGGEST MISTAKE YOU MADE WHEN FIRST STARTING OUT?
Going after the big bucks and being very financially motivated. I was also naive in sometimes thinking the grass was always greener. The grass is just as yellow and pitted with divots.
YOU HAVE PROGRESSED WELL AND VERY QUICKLY IN YOUR CAREER TO DIRECTOR LEVEL. WHAT ADVICE CAN YOU GIVE TO OTHERS WITH SIMILAR ASPIRATIONS?
Believe in yourself, commit to your own ethics and ideals, don’t be swayed by one person’s opinion and draw every bit of inspiration you can from those you admire and who you genuinely believe have the right mix of passion, integrity and skill. You make your own luck. Accept that in a business environment you must have the ability to compromise sometimes.
TELL US ABOUT YOUR NEW ROLE AT TOM DIXON AND WHAT IT ENTAILS?
One Channel is not simply taking what is traditional ‘bricks & mortar’ and ‘digital’ channels and merging them. It’s turning the concepts completely on their heads and instilling the belief (and reality) that consumer contact and consumer purchasing has changed beyond what could ever have been conceived just 5 years ago, let alone 20 years ago. It’s quite simply the user journey from initial concept right through to their lifetime engagement with the brand. It no longer requires a purchase and has more to do with brand recognition and familiarity to guarantee any brands’ place in the consumers’ heart and head.
IN TERMS OF THERE BEING A LARGER SHIFT TOWARDS DIGITAL CURRENTLY HOW IMPORTANT IS DIGITAL E COMMERCE COMPARED TO RETAIL STORES?
Digital channels and communications or ‘UX’ (user experience) is quite simply the co-ordinated and seamless way consumers and more recently, business partners, want to engage with a brand. It makes the continued engagement possible in a way that retailers never thought imaginable. It’s also something which many traditional retailers still fight against, but usually because they haven’t embraced it or just don’t understand its value or importance in the future of delivering a consumer proposition to the target audience.
WHY IS IT IMPORTANT FOR RETAILERS TO CONSIDER THE INTEGRATION OF BOTH ONLINE AND OFFLINE? WHY SHOULD RETAILERS PROVIDE A MORE MULTI-CHANNEL EXPERIENCE TO CUSTOMERS?
First of all, it’s important not to think of it as integration. It’s quite simply what consumers want and what the business needs to bring the user experience under one leadership and with one goal in mind. It’s one thing, not two or more. The two or more channels (think retail, wholesale and services) are essential in both establishing, but more importantly, building brands and securing brand recognition, acceptance, aspiration and then finally the most important word in the relationship cycle, Loyalty.
CAN YOU PLEASE GIVE US YOUR PERSONAL INSIGHT INTO THE MOST CHALLENGING QUESTIONS YOU HAVE ASKED A CANDIDATE IN AN INTERVIEW AND FROM THE CANDIDATE SIDE THE BEST QUESTIONS THEY COULD ASK THEIR FUTURE EMPLOYER IN AN INTERVIEW?
Specifically related to ‘one channel’ roles I would ask, “What is your understanding of the concept of one-channel and what does it mean to the end user?”
What they should ask (if they truly understand and want to take the journey that is one channel), “What does the least visible employee in the business understand and work towards in their part of user experience?”
A WHAT ARE THE KEY ATTRIBUTES YOU LOOK FOR IN A CANDIDATE IN AN INTERVIEW WHEN HIRING FOR YOUR TEAM?
Following on from the question above I would say it’s quite simply the recognition and belief in the concept of user experience being the driving force of every part of a business.
WHAT MOTIVATES YOU EACH DAY?
People. Forming and growing relationships that bring to life any vision or goal. It doesn’t matter whether that is personal or commercial/corporate. All the AI in the world requires and for now at least, can’t replace people. People, at least for the rest of my foreseeable career life will be the foundation and force by which everything will happen.
TO DATE, WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR PROUDEST MOMENT CAREER WISE?
It was seeing someone in a team I inherited and being told by their previous MD that they needed ‘managing out of the business’, go on to be one of the most valued and knowledgeable employees in the business. Their sickness, lateness and completely disengaged attitude went from the worst to the best in the business in less than 3 months. The silly thing is, all it took was 1 or 2 conversations and being brutally honest with them about what the previous management thought about them and offering them help to ‘fix it’. Of course, making sure they wanted to first. You can’t give anyone the motivation to succeed, they must want it. You merely help them find the path. Everyone, at every level, in every business needs that.
MODE SEARCH LTD 2020 No. 10889892