Michael Durbridge, director of omni-channel, B&Q
1. What is the greatest opportunity for your business?
We’ve the right mix of a large number of stores and ambitions for digital growth. We kicked off our five-year digital plan two years ago and believe the home improvement market is big and made for digital. People research, they look for inspiration, need availability of goods locally, and need immediacy. We also have a design solution ‘Spaces’ that within minutes can give customers a visual identity of what their kitchen will look like.
2. What is the biggest challenge to your business?
The internal challenge is with the people who’ve been at the company 20-30 years and we’re now on a digital transformation so culturally this is very difficult. Externally the challenge is around the fact we’re an amalgamation of 20 businesses under one roof so there are many different journey’s and lots of specialists for each one of those journeys.
3. With the benefit of hindsight what would you have done differently so far?
During my early time at B&Q I focused on the platforms that we needed to create. I would now do this faster and focus more on the culture. We’ve worked on attributing digital sales to the stores and engaging employee on this but I’d have moved faster on this people part and spent less time on the technology. And I’d have been even faster on mobile-first developments.
4. What is the future of the physical store and the high street?
The king is dead, long live the king. Stores will be a prominent part of the retail landscape but their role will change. The digital environment will leverage these physical assets as well as serving the need of customers for immediacy and maybe deliveries from local stores. Also the retail stores will leverage the digital assets, with endless aisles, lots of content including videos and reviews, along with chats with centralised experts.
5. What technology-related plans have you got for the next 12 months?
We launched the new website in September 2014 and over the next 12 months we’ll be replacing all the stores’ ordering systems with the website. And the contact centre customer management system will have this same front-end to serve customers. The back-end will all be integrated. There will be a phased roll-out over the next 12 to 24 months of an SAP re-platforming that will give a single view of customers and inventory.
6. With the issue of digital wildfire how do you understand and control your growing digital landscape?
When I joined B&Q I did an audit of domains, apps, social media and our partners. It’s amazing what you find. There are many companies that have grown up with more digital frameworks and it gets very fragmented. The big thing I’ve done is give them all a single owner (me) but we’ve multiple users of these assets who can all make changes. I’ve a clear view of all these assets and for things that are accessed by the customer then I’m anal about it.
7. What other retail business do you admire?
From a digital perspective AO.com for its relentless focus on the customer. It has a genuine customer focus. John Lewis does the basics really well and Argos’ transformation into a digital business has to be admired. And Shop Direct has also handled the digital transformation well.
8. If you hadn’t been a retailer what would you have liked to do?
I’d probably have done something around one of my passions – so I’d have been a professional footballer. The only failing is that I was not good enough.
9. What marks out of 10 do you give yourself so far for achievement?
For my work appraisal I’ll give myself a 10! But in reality since I’m my harshest critic I’ll give myself 6 or 7. There is a lot more work to be done.
10. Who would you place in the Top 25 Multi-channel/e-commerce Movers & Shakers?
Steve Willett, who was at Screwfix and is now CEO of group development & productivity at Kingfisher Group. He’s responsible for technology and IT on a global basis. He’ll be rolling out the single front-end and back-end around the world.