As Proximity Insight’s EMEA Technical Lead hits 30 years in the industry, we asked him to share his wisdom in a mini series. The upcoming blogs will discuss key areas from both a retailer and supplier perspective. The first entry focuses on Barry’s career in retail and how clienteling impacts retailers.
Meet Barry White
Hello! My name is Barry and I am the EMEA Technical Lead at Proximity Insight. I’m responsible for solution installations, managing how data is passed by PI or the client and any additional technical needs not core to the PI clienteling app. This involves a number of activities such as coding, configuration, data analysis, networking, product development and coming up with innovative solutions. Basically, as most of the time in retail that means if something needs doing, I need to find out how to get it done quickly and efficiently.
This April I hit the (slightly worrying) milestone of 30 years in Retail from shop floor to technology supplier.
Retail + Tech = Perfection: Where it all began.
At 16 I joined Woolworths here in the UK working in our local store tidying up the stockroom on the Saturday afternoon. Back then, the newest retail tech was a light pen for scanning barcodes onto a hand held device that was the size of a brick.
I continued in the store during college while I gained IT qualifications. I was always interested in tech and how to apply it in the real world. I worked my way through Woolworths’ stores and eventually made it into Head Office and Supply Chain. After a year finally landed in my happy place as part of the Retail IT Systems team. I got to spend my days working on retail and technology united; perfect!
Taking The Next Steps In Luxury Retail
Much of my career has focused on EPOS and CRM/Clienteling. After Woolworths I work at several luxury brands: Burberry, Harrods and Jaeger, where I was the Head of IT. During those years I spent a lot of time in EPOS working on implementation projects that required next generation POS upgrades, or integration of new merchandise systems. I have been lucky enough to have had the opportunity to work in various parts of the world such as North America & Canada, Europe, Middle and Far East. Get a job in retail and see the world!
The fun side (besides the travel!) was the variety in the work from integrating systems such as SAP with POS to explaining to a Swiss user on the telephone how to replace a hard drive when they had never opened a PC before. Often any number of these tasks would arise on the same day which certainly kept me on my toes!
Throughout my career, the retailer in me has been there. How can I solve the challenges that arise efficiently, simply and deliver what my customer requires? That may involve challenging the requirement which can yield an improved outcome for all.
A great benefit when working with Proximity Insight is that the majority of the team come from retail backgrounds, whether that be in head office or on the shop floor (in most cases, both!). Due to this extensive experience of customer service, driving sales and increasing brand loyalty, we can understand challenges and quickly deliver a retail focused implementation.
EPOS and Clienteling are my true loves
Although most of my day is consumed with data integration and configuring platforms, my true love of IT in retail is EPOS and Clienteling and the reason is simple: those elements directly affect customer service and experience in a store or in the ‘new normal’ remotely. If the sales colleague in a store struggles or has issues with the technology then that will reflect in the service to the customer. We’ve all had those times in the store when the till fails, and we’ve been asked by an employee to move the shopping to another position, or they are trying to carry out a mobile POS transaction to save you queueing and are not able to due to being out of range of the card machine. Honestly, if I experience poor service I’m more likely to comment to friends and family on said service than I would be inclined to if I went to the shop and everything was fine.
After 30 years my most key piece of advice is that technology in a store must be simple, robust and easy to use with ideally minimal training. Therefore, it’s my responsibility to ensure that anything implemented meets those standards as effectively as possible. As mentioned above, most of the Proximity Insight team come from retail, making us a great company to implement clienteling in your business. Clienteling is a hugely powerful technique used to nurture long-term relationships with clients, based on their previous purchasing decisions, behaviours and preferences, allowing sales associates to deliver a more targeted service. This enhanced experience builds trust, drives loyalty and increases sales, making it a must-have for retailers.
Get In Touch
I hope that gives insight into my background and why I still do this after 30 years. Coming soon are more relevant blogs about current technology and some of the challenges I personally see. I’m sure everyone has their own struggles so happy to discuss.
If you’re thinking of introducing Clienteling into your company or want to share your customer engagement challenges to see if we can help, then contact us via the website, Linkedin or firstname.lastname@example.org.
P.S. The PC in Switzerland worked on the first boot, I had a very excited and happy store associate on the phone that the till was working again. For me, another satisfied customer!
By Barry White EMEA Technical Lead Proximity Insight