Movers & Shakers Q&A with Jo Molineux of Republic

Brought to you by and K3 Retail
Jo Molineux, head of multi-channel at Republic

1. What is the greatest opportunity for your business?

Republic is a brand about fashion and music and therefore strategically we aim to be the most relevant and interesting youth brand to 15-25 year olds. The biggest opportunity is to understand what is useful and what is ‘now’, from a multi channel perspective, for this ever changing customer. Whilst we have started this, we still have a long way to go. What we know is this opportunity involves mobile, staying connected 24/7, and finding a single view of this customer to delight them in tough times. In addition, we are trading every single day at a time when customers are spending less and the competition is fierce.

2. What is the biggest challenge to your business?

Optimising the opportunity across all sales channels in this fast paced and growing business. We are starting with redefining our brand proposition and customer understanding but from the technology perspective, ensuring our experience and innovation is ahead of everyone else for our ever changing customer. There is so much we would like to do NOW.

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

I tend not to look backwards, however, in leading the ATG/Oracle platform migration I would have taken longer to define requirements which were not simply like-for-like and delivered much more as part of phase 1. The world of online retail has moved dramatically in the past 12 months and we could have gained more benefits had we been bolder.

4. What is the future of the physical store?

Given Republic is about music and fashion, for us our high street stores will become more like venues which give customers inspiration and also allow them to stay connected to what’s relevant to them. Localisation and free wifi in every store could be two examples of delivering this. We are really excited about our flagship Leeds store launch before the end of the year and our multi-channel experience. The store/web experience, hardware and software are completely tailored to the environment and the brand execution of being connected will underpin this.

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

There will always be a place for high street stores, but in order to survive and remain innovative, they will have to become personalised experiences and more like venues which are always connected, both from a product and stock visibility perspective as well as brand. They will be places of inspiration and we will see many more pop-up shops from pure-plays.

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

For the right customer yes and ours is the right customer. This isn’t too far into the future either; Google is already predicting that over 50% of searches at the peak this year will be via a mobile device. Although our current growth is exceptional, we have restructured and are growing our e-commerce team to rise to the challenge.

7. What other retail business do you admire?

John Lewis from a brand perspective and through every element of its multi-channel execution.

Wiggle for their impressive international expansion and clarity of execution.

Net-a-Porter for their fantastic content. And Schuh because they have been delivering multi-channel for nearly a decade, but describe it as simply getting the product to the customer as quickly as possible, which is brilliant.

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

Probably something related to consumer testing/usability. I’m fascinated by behaviour, why people do things and making sure we are in prime position to react to this.

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

Not more than 5 – although we’ve added some great services to date and now have the right platform, the next 12 months are critical. Our priorities are brand development and CRM and we need to innovative quickly and re-establish ourselves. 

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

Laura Wade-Gery, Jeff Bezos and Michael Ross.