Matt Henton, head of e-commerce at Moss Bros
- What is the greatest opportunity for your business?
Moss Bros. is in many ways a very traditional menswear retailer. Our suit experts get to know their customers and offer an unparalleled level of service through our stores. To continue to thrive, we need to further improve the cross-over between the digital experiences that we provide and those personal store experiences. We can enhance the store experience further through better use of data and technology and we are continually striving to make our digital experiences more personalised and relevant.
- What is the biggest challenge to your business?
Striking the right balance between tradition and innovation is vital. As a business that’s been suiting British gentlemen for almost 170 years, we have an almost unparalleled heritage. But any business that relies on its history will be confined to it, so we have to continue to be bold, fresh and inventive, in respect to both product and service.
- With the benefit of hindsight what would you have done differently so far?
There are always decisions that you feel you could have taken differently and opportunities that you may have missed. But I try not focus on those – I think about what I’m going to do differently in the future.
- What is the future of the physical store and the high street?
The death of the high street is an overblown notion. But I do think we’re going to see more change to store-based retail experiences in the next few years than we’ve seen over the last 20 years. If what you’re doing on the high street can be delivered more efficiently and with greater convenience to shoppers online then your store probably doesn’t have much of a future. But if you can provide a level of experience, personal service and expertise that is simply not replicable through digital devices alone then your business can thrive and grow.
- What technology-related plans have you got for the next 12 months?
We have recently changed a significant proportion of our e-commerce technology stack, giving us greater agility in testing and the ability to deliver more personalised experiences. We also have a much deeper analytical capability than we had previously, allowing us to gain much more insight into the way our customers interact with us. The year ahead is going to be much more about getting the most out of this new capability than bringing any new technology into the picture.
- With the issue of digital wildfire how do you understand and control your growing digital landscape?
Large parts of the experience that our customers have of our brand is outside of our direct control, whether that be on social platforms, review sites or through direct consumer to consumer messaging services. The risk of misrepresentation or downright misinformation is there for all brands to grapple with. There’s no set formula for how to deal with individual cases when they arise but it’s important to have a clear plan for how to deal with issues, encompassing front-line customer service teams, social managers and senior management. Speed is usually of the essence so empowerment of individuals to do what they think is right is vital. Waiting 24 hours to formulate a ‘corporate’ response is not going to douse the flames.
We’ve all got to recognise the other side to this coin though. The new digital landscape allows all to see and hear unfiltered customer feedback about our products and services. It allows for authentic customer voices to be heard by everyone and that should act as an incentive to deliver even greater customer satisfaction.
- What other retail business do you admire?
I have huge admiration for anyone starting a new retail business today. And whilst it’s easy to bemoan the impact that the internet has had on many traditional retail sectors, we mustn’t lose sight of the fact that it’s now easier than it has ever been to start a new retail business, to trade internationally, even to create an entirely new type of retail model. The ease with which we can trade online, especially through established marketplaces and platforms, has massively lowered the cost of entry into retail. That may be disruptive but it’s exciting to think that some of today’s startups could be the dominant retailers of the future.
- If you hadn’t been a retailer what would you have liked to do?
In a previous retail role I created a YouTube channel that helped consumers fix their own home appliances. I rediscovered a love for taking things apart and figuring out how they work. Anything that involves fixing things would appeal to me.
- What marks out of 10 do you give yourself so far for achievement?
I wouldn’t dream of marking my own achievements like that!
- Who would you place in the Top 25 Movers & Shakers in Retail?
A business that I’ve always admired is Ted Baker. Ray Kelvin has done an amazing job of creating a great British brand with a distinct identity. Ted shows no signs of slowing down and Ray is leading a business that looks set to become a global brand.
This is one in an ongoing series of Q&A’s with individuals that are featured in the annual ‘Retail Insider Movers & Shakers in Retail Top 100’ report.