• Swanky

Q&A with Stuart Pick, VP of Strategic Partnerships at Brightpearl

Before he hosts his first Ecommerce Unlocked masterclass next month, we caught up with Stuart Pick, VP of Strategic Partnerships at omnichannel retail operations solution Brightpearl, to get the lowdown on the importance of automation for the end-to-end customer experience. Plus, Stuart shares some of his favourite South West retailers, before revealing the topic of his upcoming masterclass …

First off, please could you tell us a bit about Brightpearl and the services you provide?

Sure! Brightpearl is the number one operations system for the retail sector. The scalable platform offers flexibility to respond to rapid changes in demand and smooth integration with other core operational systems within the organisation.

Unlike other single solution providers or ERP systems in the market, Brightpearl’s platform is built to manage the complexity of modern retail businesses and comes with a world-class selection of pre-built integrations and connectors to third party apps and services.

Furthermore, Brightpearl customers benefit from an average implementation time of just 90 days, which is 3x faster than a traditional ERP implementation.

What would you say are the main benefits for retailers of automating their operations? And how do these benefits translate to a customer's experience of a brand?

Research shows that 77% of negative (1-3 star) reviews are directly related to operational issues, and nothing to do with products. Common issues like overselling (selling items that are out of stock), mispicking items in the warehouse, missing next day delivery cut offs, and many more, lead to a disappointing customer experience.

The cost of getting this wrong is huge. Almost 9/10 customers say that they will stop doing business with a brand if they have a negative experience. For a merchant, that means that they are missing out on the opportunity to retain customers, with the back office being the key reason why they are let down! Merchants who automate operational processes are able to process orders quicker, be more accurate, and therefore grow their business with confidence that they are able to meet customer expectations.

Merchants who deployed Brightpearl last year were growing 30% faster than other companies, and saving two months per year doing manual work, while reducing their time to ship by as much as 92%. On average, customers have seen a 70% improvement in order processing efficiency and a 65% reduction in the likelihood of negative customer service as a result of human error.

Like Swanky HQ, Brightpearl is based in the South West of the UK. Who are some of your favourite brands in this corner of the country and why?

The Pink House Mustique is a great brand we see out of Wiltshire selling luxury apparel and home accessories. What we love about this brand is they’ve built a lifestyle around their products and are selling across multiple channels spanning retail and wholesale, while delivering a consistent customer experience throughout.

Exclusive Memorabilia is another awesome brand out of Devon selling sports memorabilia worldwide. This brand does an amazing job of catering to the gifting buyer by offering tons of options when it comes to delivery, as well as a seamless returns process - a few vital aspects of the ultimate customer experience!

What's the most important bit of advice you'd give to a bricks-and-mortar retailer who's just starting out with an ecommerce store?

Operationally, there are several differences between how you manage stock in a brick-and-mortar store vs online. The most important advice I could offer is to use each individual channel to compliment the other. For example, customers generally are a lot more open to using flexible delivery options like Buy Online Pick Up Instore (BOPIS), which not only helps you and the customer avoid hefty delivery fees, but also gets them in your store with potential to buy more. With this mind, think of your brick-and-mortar location not only as another sales channel, but also an additional fulfilment centre! Setting up your different channels to work in harmony can mean that both are more successful, rather than one usurping the other.

We've seen a huge acceleration in the growth of ecommerce as a result of the Covid pandemic. What can retailers do to try and differentiate their brand from the competition in today's market?

With storefronts being shut, the pandemic naturally led to a lot more consumers shopping online. 55% of consumers purchased something online that they hadn’t previously last year, showing that consumers are more open than ever before to buying through ecommerce stores.

With more and more people shopping online, and buying a wider variety of products online, this represents a huge acquisition opportunity for merchants. Getting the customer experience right the first time is essential to gain a repeat and loyal customer. If you can set yourself up for success by automating processes as much as possible, you will be able to scale confidently, and differentiate from the competition.

Are there any ecommerce trends you think we should watch out for during the rest of 2021?

Delivery times and expectations are a hot topic at the moment. Research between Parcelhub and Brightpearl shows that nearly half of consumers have had at least one bad experience related to delivery and tracking within the last year. Additionally, 47% of retailers agree they lose customers due to missed or failed deliveries.

As we head into the peak season in 2021, ensuring that you can meet the promises set on your website is essential to acquiring loyal customers. We know delivery choice can be a real influence over whether a consumer chooses to purchase or not, and the vast majority of consumers say that free delivery is likely to encourage them to shop with a brand, while nearly half say that next day delivery would influence them in the same way. Even if you’re not able to offer these types of delivery options, flexible fulfilment such as BOPIS, is a great alternative.

Ultimately, flexibility can be key in ensuring you’re able to acquire that customer. It’s difficult to do though, so you’ll need to plan for it now and make sure you have the systems in place to support the demand of peak season.

What are you most looking forward to about Ecommerce Unlocked?

We’re most excited to be getting back out there in person and connecting with merchants, partners and others across the ecosystem! We’re also looking forward to hearing all the amazing sessions and perspectives from those across the space.

You’re hosting a masterclass session about the importance of an end-to-end customer experience strategy. Why should people sign up to your masterclass - what will they learn?

Many merchants think of the customer experience as the buying experience on their website, rather than the holistic process it truly is. The end-to-end experience, including the parts that get the products into the customers hands, can be the difference between winning a loyal customer for life, or them never returning to buy from you again.

Not only will we look at why it's important to think about the end-to-end experience, we will look at some practical advice on how to resolve some of those issues, and where merchants can focus their energies to scale their businesses for success.

Learn more at Ecommerce Unlocked

For tips and tactics on how to optimise the end-to-end experience for your customers, make sure you sign up to Stuart’s masterclass. It’ll be packed with actionable advice to help you take your business to the next level! You can also catch the Brightpearl team at their stand in the technology expo area.