Retail Systems editor Scott Thompson interviewed

Just received this through in an email from Retail Business Technology Expo organisers, and thought it was an interesting interview for those of you in retail. So here it is, taken directly from their email:

What's the next big thing in retail?

Getting a handle on m-commerce and social networking to enhance the customer experience. I think 2011 will be a huge year for mobile retail. Many of the early adopters are reporting impressive results so expect to see more and more retailers launching sites and apps. The same applies to social networking, even though some retailers continue to dismiss it as a fad.

Biggest challenge to current business:

Staying ahead of the curve when it comes to the changing requirements of our readers. Just as retailers are having to deal with a new breed of customer (one that expects to be able to shop and interact with them 24/7) so we're experiencing changing attitudes. The printed magazine remains a vital part of the Retail Systems brand but it's now more important than ever that we work across a variety of channels - e.g. website, Twitter, mobile, e-newsletters and events.

What is your biggest headache in your job right now?

Trying to manage a hectic schedule. There's a lot going on at Retail Systems at the moment, including a redesign of the mag and e-newsletter. But it's a nice headache to have.

Most exciting or promising technological developments:

We're entering the era of internet TV and that will be a massive channel for retailers. Customers are no longer interested in the barriers that retailers have traditionally put in place - e.g. one price online and another in-store. They want to be able to effortlessly mix and match between channels, aided by the likes of Click and Collect which is going to flow into mobile and buying via the TV.

How important is mobile, social networking, internet retailing and the cloud to retailers?

The first three are hugely important and have transformed the face of retail. I'm still not sure about cloud computing. Much has been written about the ability to remove cost, improve customer service etc. But a lot of the retailers I've spoken to remain sceptical and wary of all the hype.

What do you hate about exhibitions and wish would change?

Trying to avoid pushy PRs plugging the same old companies and technology solutions.

What, if anything, do you love about exhibitions?

They're a great way to catch up with contacts and make new ones. A lot of companies have signed up for the Retail Business Technology Expo so it will be good to have everyone from the retail technology sector under one roof for a couple of days.

What would you like to see at Retail Business Technology Expo?

A well organised exhibition area plus stimulating and thought provoking seminars.

Whose job would you most like outside of retailing/hospitality?

Film director, so I could make that $200 million movie I've got floating around in my head.

Best retail CRM example you have seen or experienced:

It's an obvious reply, I know, but it doesn't get much better than Tesco and its loyalty programme.

What is your favourite 'gadget' (work or personal)?

It would have to be my iPhone. I was a reluctant convert but have to admit that I would be lost without it. Apple have done a great job of striking the right balance between business and fun.

For further information about Retail Business Technology Expo go to: or call the organisers on 020 8874 2728

Author: Jonathan Bellwood