Q&A: Retail Worlds

Retail Systems chats to Mark Denton, head of retail propositions, BT Expedite

RS: How did you get into the retail/technology sector?
MD: Being in the right place at the right time. Having joined a large consulting company’s graduate scheme, I was sent on secondment to the Matalan support desk to support their EPoS rollout, the rest as they say is history. The four people I started with have all shaken off retail but I can’t get enough.

RS: Who has been the biggest influence on your career?
MD: One of my first bosses taught me that not being the same as everyone else is the way to be successful. That has stuck with and now I’m always looking for different angles to approach a problem or to engage customers with. He also taught me the last five per cent were the most important five per cent - something my team are bored of hearing!

RS: Who in the sector inspires you and why?
MD: Those that are brave and not afraid to take a few risks. Anyone who uses technology to solve a real problem is my real hero. I’ve been lucky to work with many leading brands and visionaries and help them deliver excellent solutions.

RS: Which IT professional do you most admire?
MD: I have two, the first is Gene Mosher, who is not well-known but was the guy behind the first graphical PoS solution – without him, I’d be nowhere. He also went the extra mile when a command line system would easily have been accepted. Also Terry Burton, who has an online barcode generator tool, that I find myself using day in, day out, he’s my unsung hero of the day. If he reads this, thanks Terry!

RS: Is there anything that you dislike or that frustrates you about the sector?
MD: Technology for technology sake – stop putting QR codes on everything, stop making me have more apps in order to shop with you and make sure you have a clear purpose for that iPad being in the store staff member’s hand.

RS: What technology can't you live without?
MD: Having a young daughter, it’s actually a really low-tech piece of kit but I couldn’t live without my baby monitor. But beyond that it’s something really boring like my iPad.

RS: How do you relax?
MD: Spending time with my family – I got an annual pass to Twycross Zoo for Christmas so spending inordinate amount of times there. When I get a chance, running, keeping fit and working my way through my massive Netflix backlog.

RS: What was your last retail experience both online and on the High Street and were they positive experiences?
MD: Online was on Amazon. I used One Click and it was really easy. I went to a large store last night to pick up a Click and Collect order but I had to queue in three separate places to do so. Very disjointed. I won’t name the retailer but they are held up as an omnichannel pioneer which shocks me every time I shop there.

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