Richard Hurtley and Rich Insight has been selected on The Fresh Business Thinking Shift 100, The Retail Technology Edition in association with KPMG Small Business Accounting. We spoke with Richard about retail tech sector and his place for his business.

What made you decide to launch your business?

Richard: I started my career as a fashion entrepreneur, which I did for 7 or 8 years. However, I was inspired by the problems that I faced as a brand owner. That’s where my new business came from, which aims to help fashion brands with a third-party resource, helping them scale their digital online offer.

I think previously having a fashion brand has been useful. In the digital world, it is hard to understand what changes are affecting you and what you should be doing, so the idea of having a third party that can hold your hand through these processes and help you grow your business. This is something that I wish I had in the past, and that’s what we are trying to work towards.

I also thought it would be fascinating to work with other brands and understand how to support them.

What do you think will be the future trends for the retail tech sector?

Richard: There are so many at the moment. I think understanding more about the customer journey to create a more automated marketing and personalised approach.

There is a lot of movement in the social media space where businesses are trying to capitalise on the content and commercialisation on behalf of brands. We have a lot of applications for our retail recharge event around different ways of leveraging social media to create great content. For example, user-generated content, providing validation at checkouts and finding ways of tracking and creating success through things like social media, which never used to exist.

Multi-channel is also a growing trend and how people are connecting data capture in store, or through to experiences at events, or pop-ups, content marketing all the way through to the point of the first sale. Consequently, there is a lot of opportunities that brands can gain, such as a much richer data that can give customers a more engaging experience by ensuring they know enough about their customers.

And finally, we can’t not talk about mobile, it’s a device that is taking a new lease of life. There will be continuing advancements in terms of how mobile is going to be working within the next couple of years and that will revolutionise people’s perception of how they approach mobile. It has been perceived as a low converting device but really good for browsing. However, I think conversion on mobile will be an interesting one to watch with the various changes that are happening.

What are your plans for your business for 2017 and beyond?

Richard: We’ve got big plans for this coming year but it will be more around growing our team and focusing on our marketplace and our online trading offer, where we supporting brands with the trading off their e-commerce site. It’s an area of massive opportunity, particularly for the trading side.

We see ourselves as a hybrid solution that enables businesses to have the strategic advice of an e-commerce director and the practical input of someone who can deliver with online mechanising function.

I think it will be a really exciting offer for a lot of brands as the online marketplaces is going to make up 40% of all e-commerce transactions by 2020. This is a huge figure which brands can use the e-commerce channel to their advantage. A lot of this is to do with optimisation, which is something we are also trying to build.

Do you think there has been a shift in consumer behaviour?

Richard: The big sale periods are a big focus for retailers where they are driving traffic, but consumers are getting wise to that. People are often doing research and saving for that day or for sale periods. This is not what brands would like as they are not selling at full margin. So, working with the existing calendar or promotion and trying to create a point of difference is interesting. A lot of brands are trying to counteract that kind of consumer behaviour where we found that last Black Friday they would give back to charity rather than give discounts.

Consumer behaviour on mobile is changing a lot. Things are now so easy now to order online and be with you on the same day. This means that retailers are going to have to be a lot savvier about how they can create a great experience in-store, because they will lose people instantly. They must compete with either a great service so consumers wouldn’t want to shop elsewhere, or a lot of product knowledge.

What has been your most satisfying moment in business?

Richard: We had our retail recharged event in October about innovation and retail. The event had an overwhelming amount of feedback with people thanking us for putting on the event for both the tech and retail side.

A lot of people appreciated the fact that we are taking it upon ourselves to create something quite different in the event space and how we are talking about innovation in a different way. Technology companies also appreciated the live feedback we were giving. Tech companies are really trail blazing but don’t always have that connection to the retail businesses. It also gave retail businesses a snapshot of great insight into the tech sector without having to sacrifice loads of time and giving them a value-packed half day.

It has been great to look back and see what a difference it was making and a lot of deals were done off the back of it which was great to see.