Startup Q&A: Michael Patterson, Managing Director EMEA, DynamicAction
RTIH: Tell us about DynamicAction
MP: DynamicAction is an advanced perscriptive retail analytics solution built specifically to enable omnichannel, e-commerce and store teams to pursue the path to profitable growth with connected data and rapid access to new metrics and actionable insights every single day.
The DynamicAction Way success programme and road map not only ensures a productive launch of our retail analytics platform, but also activates adoption of a new operating mindset.
Our aim is to provide retailers with the information needed to effectively prioritise opportunities, regain trading control and set in motion a customer-first operational state of mind. We do this by leveraging our award winning cloud software which harnesses next-generation AI-powered metrics.
With this capability, we can give retailers an immediate and comprehensive summary of their data, opening the window on performance across their organisation and clearing a path for them to navigate the transformation and change evident in today’s retail market. The information we provide ultimately enables faster, better decisions, using immediate insights and recommended actions to deliver profit.
Today, DynamicAction helps retail teams better manage more than £15 billion of consumer transactions each year. We currently work with many forward thinking retailers across the globe, including Cole Haan, Wehkamp, Heine and Farfetch.
RTIH: What was the inspiration behind setting the company up?
MP: As long-suffering retail practitioners, by 2008, we passionately believed that retail executives across the board were facing a number of fundamental issues around operational disconnects, profit losses, data paralysis and team inaction.
It was becoming increasingly clear the industry was in need of a new systematic approach to connect the multitude of ever-expanding retail data; to be able to stop simply reporting on changes and start taking action. Retailers needed to be able to focus on the road ahead in a similar fashion to Sat Navs – which continuously incorporate real-time data into their systems – as opposed to staring in the rear-view mirror.
Inspired by McKinsey's decision tree and profit deconstruction methodologies, as well as the "Moneyball" re-invention of winning strategy using new analytics in baseball, Amazon's focus on controllable inputs and surgical action and Waze's ability to course correct through data and collaboration, DynamicAction was born.
It is one system to connect data from every part of an organisation – merchandising, marketing, operations, customers, returns and finance across e-commerce, physical stores and mobile – to provide profit hunting actionable insight and analytics.
RTIH: What has been the industry reaction so far?
MP: Industry reaction has been tremendously positive, with interest in DynamicAction continually growing. In 2017, the National Retail Federation named us the Digital Commerce Startup of the Year for our ability to “significantly improve or radically alter how retailing is done” and research firm Frost & Sullivan also recognised us as having “first of its kind technology”.
This recognition is really important to us and, as we partner with an increasing number of retailers from all around the world, we hope more will turn to us for support in unlocking insights and profit potential from their data.
“Digitally-savvy consumers have completely transformed the mechanics and economics of retail, extending the scope of shopping beyond physical stores to include countless devices and platforms”
RTIH: What has been your biggest challenge/setback?
MP: While it is great to be recognised as having “first of its kind technology”, it does mean we invest a lot of time in educating our clients on how to be ever-more effective in harnessing the full capabilities of our solution and strategies, and how best to garner the very significant operational and financial benefits.
An even greater challenge we face is educating them about the importance of adopting a new mindset. Many retailers today are stuck in their ways, clutching onto their memories of a less complex retail world.
Things have changed, however, and it is vital they are prepared to make radical decisions rather than simply replicating what has worked in the past. This requires a complete shift in outlook, not just by the CEO, but by all employees in a retail business – from top executives, to the drivers in the loading bay.
From my formative retail years in regional store management and head office merchandising with Marks and Spencer, I constantly remind myself of the realities of the dynamic, ever changing real-world retail environment.
I have witnessed first hand the importance of constant change and the best retailers being prepared to evolve and do things differently, pushing beyond their comfort zone. Only when retailers rethink their approach as individuals, as teams and as a collective, will they succeed.
RTIH: What are the biggest challenges facing the omnichannel retail sector right now?
MP: In today’s omnichannel, ever-connected world, consumer journeys are increasingly fragmented across different platforms. Digitally-savvy consumers have completely transformed the mechanics and economics of retail, extending the scope of shopping beyond physical stores to include countless devices and platforms.
For retailers, this complex reality makes it critical to adopt an analytical approach that aligns with the increasing fluidity of customer activity. Retailers must move away from store-focused metrics and towards assessment that tracks the rapidly-evolving habits and needs of modern customers across the entire business, as well as the specific value they generate.
Moreover, because mass appeal is no longer effective, retailers must ensure they are reaching and engaging only those customers that represent the best value if they are to stay ahead of rivals. This means ensuring that adaptability and predictive technology are an integral part of their strategy to identify their most profitable customers.
Only then can retailers manoeuvre the omnichannel world to focus on those specific customers who are right for their brand, making a significant and lasting difference to business success.
RTIH: What’s the best questions about your company or the market asked of you recently by a.) an investor and b.) a customer?
As a non-retail investor, in simple terms how do you describe DynamicAction? Answer – the Moneyball theory.
As a customer, surely this is just bringing data together – how hard can it be? Answer – eight years, multimillion investments and an expert team driving continuous innovation and implementation. Some customers have attempted to replicate the solution and strategies we offer, but they are often back talking to us 12 months later, having spent a lot of money without much success.
RTIH: What can we expect to see from DynamicAction over the next 12 months?
MP: During the next year we’ll be exploring additional functionality such as the in-store application of real-time offers and pricing, and further connecting offline to online to empower retailers to create a seamless customer experience.
We will also continue our expansion plans across Europe, including the UK, Germany, Spain, Netherlands, Belgium and Scandinavia. Here we have found the most progressive retailers, who are open to embracing change and are subsequently the unicorns and trailblazers for the rest of the industry.