Faces of the

New retail leaders

Meet our members and hear their voices.

Close Up

Chris Browne

Chris was the Global Retail Director of Ted Baker in 1988 and headed up the retail team for over 30 years for the brand. 

During this time Chris was responsible for many aspects of Ted’s unique style of Retail and is considered to be one of the leading lights of the drive to create ‘Retail Theatre’. With its innovative ,and sometimes controversial, windows, direct marketing, which included the handing out of condoms with every purchase  in support of Aids Charities, and an early decision never to advertise, Ted truly led the way in ‘Experiential ‘ Retail.

Chris left the brand in 2017 but has had a lifelong interest/obsession with the Future and has an abiding passion for Retail/Commerce and it’s evolution , in particular  the future use of Stores and their role in the wider context of a Brands overall ‘UNIFIED’ offer .He sometimes feels he is alone in being excited by all the change and progression in Retail but enjoys sharing his vision with fellow Retailers. Previous to his Ted Baker career Chris worked for The Tube , a London based fashion shoe business and John Farmer Shoes, formerly part of The Clarks Group.

Interview

Q1. From your experience in the Retail sector, what would you describe as your defining career moment? And why?

My defining moment would have to be the occasion when we hosted a party for Vogue’s ‘Fashion’s Big Night Out’ in our store in Omotesando , Tokyo. I stood outside watching the crowds….The whole street was a riot of colour and activity for the special evening with the Fashionistas of Tokyo all in attendance and Anna Wintour there to celebrate 50 years of the Japan Edition of Vogue.I felt like we truly belonged in such exalted company. Our store was busy, the buzz for the Brand and our energy at that time was palpable and I truly felt the only way was up.

Q2. Could you describe the key features of the New Retail era as you see them and explain in your opinion how this new movement is different from what we have seen before?

I firmly believe that the New Retail will see connected, or better described as Unified Retail finally come to its fullest realisation. Brands will finally be able to connect their customers to the Brand however they choose to experience it and by whatever high or low tech means they want . New Retail will mean there are no boundaries and channels will merge seamlessly as the customer is truly at the heart of Brands focus and attention. Brands that are quicker to grasp that they need to offer Unified Retail will prosper and those that don’t will fail.

Q3. For those retailers still aiming at making the shift, what could be their biggest challenge if we need to name one?

The biggest challenge for Retailers wanting or needing to make the shift will be their own self imposed limitations, restrictions or internal decision making based on what they believe is or is not possible. It’s ok not to know how to solve your problems as a Brand trying to navigate all the solutions out there…but it’s not ok to hide behind road maps, budget constraints or belief in legacy systems whose time is over. I  believe that Brands today need a Futurist  embedded in their Exec team whose main function is to  explore all the solution providers out there on a relentless quest to find what is new and relevant to their particular Brand. 

Q4. For retailers looking for inspiration as the New year is kicking in, is there a book, channel or article you would like to recommend?

I would like to recommend two books….Michael Zakkours ‘New  Retail, Born in China’ which lays out just how far the West is behind China and other APAC countries…and Steven Fosters ‘One Golden Nugget’ book and website for inspiration for life and business, an altruistic antidote to often poisonous Social Media.

Close Up

Michael Zakkour

Author of the #1 Amazon New Release: “New Retail: Born in China, Going Global – How China’s Tech Giants are Changing Global Commerce” and “China’s Super Consumers”

Founder and Chief Strategist at consulting firm 5 NEW DIGITAL

Michael advises global brands, retailers, consumer product and technology companies on digital and eCommerce, the New Retail; consumer centricity; China/APAC retail, consumer and digital strategy; global eCommerce and digital transformation strategies, structures and implementation; direct to consumer commerce; consumer focused supply chains and logistics.

Michael has more than twenty years’ experience in international market strategy and implementation, primarily in China and Asia where he has assisted more than 400 multi-national, SME, public and private enterprises on their entry and growth strategies, including some of the biggest names in retail, consumer products, technology, food and beverage, entertainment, health care, fashion and luxury.

Prior to moving to Asia, Michael was an internet technology and eCommerce pioneer having worked on the front lines building Web 1.0 and early eCommerce from 1993 to 2003 and has stayed in the digital commerce and consumer realm ever since.

Michael is also a regular guest and contributor at the BBC, CNN, NBC, Fox Business, NPR, and in other global media channels sharing his insights on digital commerce; new retail; global e-commerce; and China. He has lectured at Columbia, Northwestern, UPENN, Yale, The Confucius Institute, NYU, The China Institute and at dozens of other schools, conferences, government institutions and corporations around the world.

Interview

Q1. From your experience in the Retail sector, what would you describe as your defining career moment? And why?

I don’t know if there is one, career defining moment or experience for me.  My views and my career has been about evolution.  Every major change in direction I’ve made has, in retrospect, been part of a long process that led to me understanding and practicing the art of retail in a way that only my path could have produced.  Moving from my early years in Web 1.0 and an early participant in eCommerce, to moving to China and having a front row seat and an active part in the building of the NEW RETAIL model there and my experience in logistics and fulfillment had given me the gift of a big picture perspective which in turn I am honored to share with my clients.

Q2. Could you describe the key features of the New Retail era as you see them and explain in your opinion how this new movement is different from what we have seen before?

I think the founding principle of the New Retail model had held up well over the last 5 years and has proven to be a winning formula.  That is the complete integration of online, offline, technology, logistics and content, with the goal of consumer centricity. 

There are a few key features that differentiate this movement form past changes in the retail/consumer model. 1. The lines between who is a retailer, wholesaler, manufacturer, content producer etc. have disappeared. Everyone, brands, retailers, marketplaces, needs to be a combination of all of these.  2.  Retail is everywhere.   It didn’t used to be that way. Retail took place in stores, period. Now retail is everywhere.  In stores, on our screens, in our offices, in the back of an Uber and retail is integrated in one shape or form into everything we do on a daily basis. 3. What I have studied and now advise my clients and partners on is the emergence of 3 distinct groups of companies/business models that all have to be accounted for in retail and consumption to wit:   Ecosystems-Platforms-Habitats.

Q3. For those retailers still aiming at making the shift, what could be their biggest challenge if we need to name one?

The biggest roadblock is almost always the same, and that’s mindset.  Before you can fix a problem you have to admit you have one, then you need to commit 100% to change, because ethe same company will fail again.

Q4. For retailers looking for inspiration as the New year is kicking in, is there a book, channel or article you would like to recommend?

I follow the CPG Guys podcast, I follow a ton of great retail minds on Twitter and of course, I recommend my 2019 book “The New Retail: Born in China, Going Global.”

Close Up

Philip Bianchi

Founder and CEO of PROXIMIS, french eponymous software provider of a Unified Commerce solution, commercialised since 2016. Philip has worked closely with the retail industry over the past decades and has always been avant-garde in the solutions designed to respond to the industry’s challenges.

PROXIMIS has received multiple awards for its innovative and practical response to the issues at stake in Retail: E-commerce Trophy 2019 (PRW), Cross-Channel Trophy 2019 (LSA), Digital Transformation Trophy 2019 (Microsoft).

Interview

Q1. From your experience in the Retail sector, what would you describe as your defining career moment? And why?

The project that impressed me the most was that of a toy retail client and its 200 stores, who had been betting for years on its digital strategy of distance selling, which was a losing strategy against marketplaces like Amazon or C-Discount. He found himself in serious financial difficulty, and the day after his takeover, decided to bet his strategy on Unified Commerce and placed his trust in Proximis. Within a few months, he managed to shake up his entire organization and deliver a promise of high quality to his consumers, far better than all his competitors, whether online or in-store. Today he is a role model, he has found his way back to growth and has just won 2 awards, including the award for consumers’ favourite toy brand.

Q2. Could you describe the key features of the New Retail era as you see them and explain in your opinion how this new movement is different from what we have seen before?

For a very long time, brands and retailers addressed consumers according to the channel they used, creating frictions in their path whenever they tried to move from one channel to another, whether in terms of information or freedom of purchase. Today it is acknowledged that consumers are multi-channel in essence, they go from one channel to another without warning, and buy where, when and how they want. And those who have not adapted to this behaviour will lose their customers and put themselves in great difficulty.

New Retail corresponds to an era of retail renaissance and aims at offering a fluid shopping experience to the consumer regardless of the channel(s) used, thanks to a perfect integration of online and offline sales technologies and logistics capabilities. All this, backed by points of sale that have been rethought in terms of function and location, and that encourage people to go there.
The consequences are multiple: better service for the consumer who buys more and more often, better margins and less unsold stock for the retailer.

Q3. For those retailers still aiming at making the shift, what could be their biggest challenge if we need to name one?

Thinking that tomorrow’s business will be done with yesterday’s tools, which is pointless. We must accept to see things differently, and to change prism. We are talking about a Renaissance!

Q4. For retailers looking for inspiration as the New year is kicking in, is there a book, channel or article you would like to recommend?

The book of Michael Zakkour “New Retail Born in China Going Global: How Chinese Tech Giants Are Changing Global Commerce”. A must read!”