Q&A: Øyvind Henriksen, CEO & Co-founder, Poq

Q&A: Øyvind Henriksen, CEO & Co-founder, Poq

Øyvind Henriksen talks to RTIH about getting Poq off the ground and the hugely important role that mobile apps are playing in the omnichannel retail world

RTIH: Tell us about Poq

Øyvind Henriksen: Poq is a Software-as-a-Service platform that empowers retailers to create highly effective and fully customised native apps in record time. Apps that allow them to build stronger brands, sell more of their products, deepen customer loyalty and deliver highly relevant content, communications and rewards.

Our platform is the result of years of focus on retail apps and is proven to increase conversion rates and revenue. New code is rolled out every week and major releases delivered every quarter. Our aim is to make app commerce bigger than e-commerce.

RTIH: What was the inspiration behind setting the company up?

OH: Having worked as a CTO at an e-commerce agency for 10 years, I noticed that people were building apps in the way I used to build websites in the 90’s, by hand and from the ground up. Most large e-commerce websites aren’t built from scratch anymore, and are built on a platform, like Salesforce Commerce Cloud or Magento.

When I came to London, we noticed that there was no technology for apps to be built in this way, so that’s where the idea came from to build Poq as an e-commerce platform to build native apps.

RTIH: What has been the industry reaction thus far?

OH: When we first started Poq, mobile’s share of e-commerce was 2%, forecast to grow to 27% by 2018. This prediction vastly underestimated the power of mobile, with last year’s share of e-commerce coming from smartphones reaching 51% and continuing to grow. This rise in traffic has meant that retailers are taking apps more seriously and considering them a vital component of a successful omnichannel strategy. 

As champions of app commerce, we regularly publish industry research about the importance apps play in shopping experiences. Our latest research reports App Commerce Peak Trading and App Growth & Revenue, have been really well received and aim to equip retailers with the knowledge and information they need to make sure an app is a success for their brand.

Recent award wins also demonstrate the traction app commerce is gaining in the retail industry. Our client Missguided was crowned Best App at the Drapers Digital Festival 2017 and Poq was named amongst the UK’s fastest growing companies in the Deloitte Technology Fast 50 in November 2017.

RTIH: What has been your biggest challenge?

OH: Winning our first big client, House of Fraser, was a huge challenge for us. Initially, Poq focused on selling our platform services to small and independent retailers. With fierce competition from a number of app-creation agencies and having not previously worked with such a large enterprise retailer, we had to commit a large amount of time and resources to win the business.

We knew it wouldn’t be easy, but we made it work, and it was testament to our team and expertise that we could win a client of such calibre when we were relatively small and unknown. Since then Poq has gone on to work with a range of well-known brands such as Missguided, MADE.com and Hotel Chocolat, and it was overcoming this challenge that made us the company we are today.

RTIH: What are the biggest challenges facing the omnichannel retail sector right now?

OH: The prominence of mobile is phenomenal; even if shoppers don’t make their purchase on mobile, it’s likely that they’ve used it at some point in the shopping process. Browsing behaviour has been driven by convenience and accessibility and has ultimately resulted in lower conversion rates on mobile websites compared to desktop, creating a paradox as mobile traffic booms but fails to convert to sales.

This is where apps step in. Criteo has shown that apps see an average of 3x higher conversion rates than mobile web, enabling retailers to start to close the gap created by the mobile web. Another challenge is offering the best possible experience for consumers as their demands evolve with new technology. The mobile phone is the most personal and direct route to consumers and apps command valuable real estate on this device, resulting in one of the best ways to engage customers and offer them an experience which makes them feel valued and loyal.

RTIH: What's the best question about your company or the market asked of you recently by an investor and a customer?

OH: Some questions we have come up against recently include: Why don’t all large retailers adopt apps? One of the main reasons is that often retailers don't want to talk about their success with an app. For websites there are many tools to judge how much traffic a website gets. This is not available for apps in the same way. Major retailers won't publish the data that shows that they are making the majority of their revenue from their apps.   

Another one is, how much should we expect to make money from our app? We see on average about 15% of our clients’ online revenue coming from the app after a year of being live on the Poq platform, if you follow our advice on how to promote the app. 

RTIH: What can we expect to see from Poq over the next 12 months?

OH: Over the next 12 months, app commerce is only going to get bigger and better, with wider adoption and a more prominent role to play in omnichannel strategy. The Poq platform continuously evolves and we’ll embrace the latest mobile technologies to enhance engagement and provide enriching shopping experiences. 

From our stronghold in fashion, we will be doing a big push into other verticals like beauty, furniture, gifting and food. We expect to launch leading retailers in those verticals. We’re also launching app commerce in the US, having recently exhibited at Shoptalk 2018 and we’re confirmed to exhibit at Salesforce Connections 2018 in July.

Lastly, our flagship industry event #appcommerce will take place on 26th June for the second year running, which will bring together those interested in the rapidly evolving world of omnichannel retail and the integral role that mobile apps can play.

Another 10 promising retail technology ventures

Another 10 promising retail technology ventures

Q&A: Karoline Gross, Founder & CEO, Smartzer

Q&A: Karoline Gross, Founder & CEO, Smartzer