Movers & Shakers Q&A with Andy Harding, executive director of multi-channel at House of Fraser


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Andy Harding, executive director of multi-channel. House of Fraser

 1. What is the greatest opportunity for your business?

Converting store-only loyalty card customers into multi-channel customers.


2. What is the biggest challenge to your business?

Keeping up with the pace of growth in multi-channel sales – from both an internal perspective (i.e. systems, process, infrastructure, and people) and an external one (advancing technologies, customer behaviour and expectation).

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

Been first to market with everything.

4. What is the future of the physical store?

I don’t think that there will be as big a radical shift as some predict. Traditional stores will continue to allow customers to engage with a brand and to create theatre but increasingly they will also be there to service customer demand for convenience. They will certainly be a fully connected environment where technology exists everywhere – from the stairs, to the walls, to the mirrors in the changing rooms, allowing staff and customers to be able to visualise and engage with product in new and innovative ways.

There are also new types of stores emerging that leverage technology and customer demand for convenience in different ways. Stockless stores are a trend that House of Fraser is pioneering but there are other models.

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

I don’t know but unless something is done to address business rates the outlook is pretty bleak. Small businesses will find it harder and harder to operate, and this will stifle innovation and entrepreneurism leading to dominance by a fewer number of larger brands.

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

Depends on your definition of mobile devices. I think that customers will continue to purchase online primarily either at work or at home and they will use the most appropriate and convenient device for that context.

Given that there was no iPhone five years ago it is impossible to predict the future for certain but we can be sure that we will see the emergence of new devices and new ways of shopping that are very different from today.

7. What other retail business do you admire?

Amazon and Apple.

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

Professional snowboarder

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

For the work that I have done to date I would say an 8. But in the context of what I want to achieve before I retire then it would be only 3.5.

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

I’m not answering that!!!