Movers & Shakers Q&A with Jonathon Brown, CEO of M+M Direct

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Jonathon Brown, chief executive, M+M Direct

1. What is the greatest opportunity for your business?

There are opportunities all over the place for us to expand and grow. For example, one we are driving hard is our international roll out strategy. We’re in the UK and four other core markets at present and we’ll be in three more countries in the next couple months. Our platform allows us to launched tailored sites for each market with local currency, local language, local customer service and bespoke marketing.

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2. What is the biggest challenge to your business?

Quite simply it is keeping everybody and the business focused on our core plan and what we do well.  The only constant today in retail is change and customers are driving that change. We are fortunate because as a pure play we can move quickly, the best example of this is how we have dealt with mobile and our new responsive site is really helping our customers shop more easily.

3. With the benefit of hindsight what would you have done differently so far?

I’d have made tough decisions quicker, sometimes I’ve reflected on things too much. It’s probably not right to talk about the specific decisions because the tough choices generally involve people, rather than systems or strategies.

4. What is the future of the physical store?

Stores that offer a proposition that’s interesting and differentiated will continue to thrive, and those that embrace the new ways that customers are shopping will gain a real advantage. For example I love to cook and love to buy food to cook, however I do my utility shopping online for home delivery but when I am cooking for friends of family I like to choose in person and spend time getting ideas.

5. What will the high street look like in a decade?

I hope the high street will be more local – with a stronger portfolio of specialist retailers and destination stores such as local butchers and boutique coffee shops. There will obviously be a role for convenience stores from Tesco, Sainsbury’s and the others but hopefully alongside shops that support the local infrastructure and are tailored to local people’s needs.

6. Will mobile devices be the primary sales channel in the future?

It was suggested that the internet would signal the end of physical stores. It hasn’t. Likewise, using mobile devices will be complementary to shops. The trick for multi-channel retailers will be how they make their offer work across all these customer touch points. We are seeing more convoluted shopping journeys which will make life more complex for retailers.

7. What other retail business do you admire?

Like lots of people I have far too many Apple products, however every time I use them it delights me just how simple and connected the technology is. I also think the way they manage their stock and distribution channels keeps their offer fresh. Another business I like is Graze, it’s simple but innovative and delivers real value to its customers with some of the best online customer service I have seen.

8. If you hadn’t been a retailer what would you have liked to do?

I did a lot of skiing when I was young and so an off-piste ski guide was always a bit of a dream, but not sure how conducive it is to a healthy balanced lifestyle, far too much fun!

9. What marks out of 10 do you give yourself so far for achievement?

Wow probably about seven out of 10 as I’m quite pleased with the game so far, not too many disappointments and I’ve a huge amount of things still to do.

10. Who would you place in the Top 20 Multi-channel/e-commerce Movers & Shakers?

There are lots of individuals who are doing great things in the online space and I think we are all still learning, I think one of the keys to handle the pace of change, and be up to speed with events, is to be sufficiently humble to learn from that others are doing well and borrow some of the great ideas.