Movers & Shakers Q&A – Simon Harrow, CEO, Elevaate

Movers and Shakers 2014 Cover

Brought to you by Retail Insider and K3 Retail

Simon Harrow, CEO, Elevaate.

1. What is the greatest opportunity for your business?

Elevaate has an exciting year ahead. Our core platform is delivering for our customers but there are so many legacy tools holding retailers back. The prospect of building an increasingly innovative and intelligent SaaS platform for retailers and suppliers to grow their businesses is exciting.


2. What is the biggest challenge to your business?

Speed. Our biggest challenge as we move through the next 12 months is to ensure that we continue to build momentum. Culture and recruitment are a key part of that but also making sure that we only touch things once, focus clearly on our priorities, and deliver quickly for customers. This will all be critical in the success of Elevaate.

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

I would have framed the Elevaate solution to solve existing problems rather than just focusing on the upside we deliver. Retailers are so busy fighting fires – new solutions can’t just deliver an increase in revenue or profit, they have to make the work easier. We understand, given our backgrounds, the pressures of retail but we got so caught up in the revenue opportunity we drive for retailers and suppliers that we missed the messaging about how we remove the barriers and challenges people face day to day in retail.

4. With the issue of ‘digital wildfire’ how do you understand and control your growing digital landscape?

While we understand the impact of digital wildfire on organisations, we are not yet in a position where we have to worry about it too much, but having said that we have an inventory of all digital sites and one owner.

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

I think the role of ‘shops’ will further evolve to be showcases for the brand. The in-store experience will be richer, more involved, and more emotive than today. As services like Uber move into delivery I think there might be an interesting shift where stock is held centrally, and collectively, for the high street and delivered to customers’ home addresses after they finish their shopping experience – improving stock availability and store space optimisation. This would provide all the benefits and attraction of physical shopping with the convenience and availability of online.

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

I think so. The impact of mobility has already caused a massive shift in consumer behaviour. As more and more services build their offering around location and convenience it only strengthens the habit of ‘mobile first’ for users. It’s often pointed out that since smart phones have existed in their current form, when was the last time you bought an address book, alarm clock, map, calendar, point-and-shoot camera or a calculator? Mobile has changed the habits of users very quickly and retail on mobile feels like a very natural extension of this behaviour.

7. What other retail business do you admire?

I’ve had the privilege of spending some time with most of the UK retailers in the past year. House of Fraser, NotOnTheHighStreet, and Shop Direct have impressed me most. Not necessarily just where they are today but their ambition to move forward. There is a real sense of momentum and their desire to embrace change and innovation to better serve their customers.

8. If you hadn’t been a retailer/service-provider-to-retail what would you have liked to do?

As an entrepreneur I am driven by building and creating things that add value to people’s lives. Right now that is in the retail space but I am excited about the prospect of building businesses in clean energy and health.

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

Tough question. This year has been a very steep learning curve for me, however, I am very proud of what we have accomplished as a team. Maybe a seven.

10. Who would you place in the Top 25 Multi-channel/e-commerce Movers & Shakers?

Paul Hornby at Shop Direct, Sean McKee at Schuh, and Benjy Meyer at M&S.