Welcome Alex Ford, Sales and Strategic Development Manager, to Vaimo UK!
Alex has over 10 years of experience in retail, coming from both a client and agency background. We caught up with Alex to hear about his journey to becoming part of the Vaimo team and his impressions of the UK eCommerce landscape.
Can you tell us about your past experience and how this led you to the new role at Vaimo?
In some form or another, I have worked in the eCommerce space for the last 9 years. The first half of my eCom career was spent client side at a commercial gardening retailer where I became part of the team driving online sales on Magento.
I was initially responsible for a migration project from OpenCart to M1 and during this project worked closely with many partners and agencies. Following the migration project I grew to become responsible for the entire eCommerce website and fulfilment, eventually overseeing a team of 17 from branding and marketing to warehousing and order dispatchers.
Following my client time, I went on to work for a Magento Gold partner as a project manager where I gained my first Solution Specialist certification. It was here I met two of my now fellow Vaimoers Joanna & Stephen. When Jo & Stephen joined the Vaimo team we kept in touch and they both regularly spoke highly of working at Vaimo.
My most recent role saw me working at a pure-play UX & CRO agency as their sales director. Their specialism was in biometric research and during my time there I learnt a lot about human behaviour and psychology from a great team. As great as biometric research, behavioural psychology and UX research are, I ultimately wanted to work closely with the teams that actually ended up building and delivering solutions on retailers' websites.
I'm really excited and humbled to have joined such a great team both locally and globally. And I can’t wait to work on some exciting and pioneering projects together with our clients.
Thinking about the UK eCommerce space... As such a dynamic industry, it can be hard for businesses to know what to prioritise for digital growth. From your own experience, what’s the current state of eCommerce in the UK and what should businesses be focusing on?
I feel that the UK retail market is in a strong place at moment and is in the process of pivoting the retail offering. With the loss of some big high street names in the UK such as House of Fraser, Toys R Us and others, many might argue the high street is dead, but I feel it isn’t dead, rather it's just in a process of changing.
In my experience, the majority of UK retailers are aware that consumers' buying behaviours and expectations are changing. Competition not only on price, but service, from the likes of Amazon and eBay means that the consumer expectations are growing rapidly and retailers need to take steps to keep up or fear becoming irrelevant. With more and more cloud solutions finally hitting the market for retailers, from M2 Cloud, NetSuite, Shopify etc, retailers are actually in a strong position to take advantage of technology and invest in more areas around design and experience. Whilst some progressive and leading retailers are investing heavily in user research, split testing and more, smaller retailers often find it hard to justify budgets for these services.
If I was a retailer I would be investing in cloud-based infrastructure technology such as M2 and then into regular user research and growing a culture of testing everything. Redesigns, information architecture, user journeys and the like have such a significant impact on bottom line performance and I have seen first hand how risky it is to leave these changes to a single person, designer or team without validating ideas with the ultimate user—customers.
Outside of these areas I also feel social channels for retailers are going to grow significantly in the next 3 - 5 years. Channels such as Instagram, Facebook & YouTube are going to become the go-to places to look for product recommendations and real reviews, with consumers wanting to see and hear as much as possible about products before they part with their money.
You work with businesses all day to drive success. But if it was you in charge of your own store, what would you be selling?
I love anything electric vehicle, so last mile personal electric vehicles!
And to wrap this thing up, from your so far experience of Vaimo, please can you describe Vaimo to us in just 3 words?
Driven - Friendly - Capable
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