Movers & Shakers Q&A – Steve Rothwell, founder, Eagle Eye
Steve Rothwell, CTO and founder, Eagle Eye
1. What is the greatest opportunity for your business?
As a software service business you’d expect me to say digital or wearable technology wouldn’t you. Actually I think the greatest opportunity is the high street. There was some Kantar research released recently showing that over a three month period, 68.4% of physical sales in entertainment came through the high street. The real opportunity is in bringing the high street and digital experience together. At Eagle Eye, that’s what we’re doing.
2.What is the biggest challenge to your business?
Firstly, Silos – internal communication is key for any business but for today’s retailers, it is more important than ever. With consumers demanding a seamless experience across all channels it is essential that in-house digital teams are working in unison across all areas of the business, not just online but also the physical high street stores to ensure effective marketing strategies. Secondly, reaching digital decision makers. It may sound surprising but many brands out there still do not have a dedicated individual or team looking after their rewards programmes. Quite often it is something that will fall under the marketing remit and as a result of the complexity of the Eagle Eye offering, there can be a need to educate them on the benefits of the platform for their business. As the tools can be beneficial to so many business areas, it is often difficult to get in front of the relevant person within a business.
3. With the benefit of hindsight what would you have done differently so far?
Hindsight is a very powerful thing. While we did some things very well, there were other things that we could have done better. We got over excited about some opportunities which weren’t really core to our business or product and built things that didn’t add long term value.
4. With the issue of digital wildfire how do you understand and control your growing digital landscape?
We are fundamental to the wildfire control. Our AIR platform allows retailers and brands to control their channels in a central system and, in effect, police them correctly.
5. What will the high street look like in a decade?
The high street is constantly changing so it’s quite difficult to say what it will look like in the next couple of years let alone a decade. One thing that I can say is that customer experience will be key. But technology moves quickly. In 1995 Tesco launched Clubcard and it was revolutionary. Recently Apple Pay has changed things but it’s impossible to make an accurate prediction. What will be most important, as always, is understanding what the consumer wants. We operate real time insights, meaning retailers can adapt on the spot – whatever happens, if the lessons are learned in real time, the retailer can adapt quickly.
Retailers have an obligation to ensure that customers visiting their stores are enjoying the experience so I think we will be seeing more and more integrated technology being used in-store to improve the customer’s experience and aid staff to provide a more efficient service.
6. Will mobile devices be the primary sales channel in the future?
No. Mobile took us by storm and so will the next thing. The key is to be ready to accept change and to know the experts for when it comes. Wearable tech, augmented reality, VR…who knows what’s next. What we learned from mobile was that we should be ready and willing to take our businesses across digital borders. We’ve had to do it before and we will again.
7. What other retail business do you admire?
We all have to admire Apple not just in retail but in how they construct consumer experiences. Apple stores, Apple Pay , Apple wallet…the list goes on. They make excellent consumer experiences and we should always aspire for the best consumer experience we can provide.’
8. If you hadn’t been a retailer/service-provider-to-retail what would you have liked to do?
Personally I always wanted to be a fireman. Don’t know why but as a kid I did! I wouldn’t have been very good because I’m not brave enough but that’s what I wanted to do.
9. What marks out of 10 do you give yourself so far for achievement?
I’m very proud of Eagle Eye and what we have achieved to date but there is still so much more that we can do so I certainly don’t feel as though it’s the finished article. We will continue to work hard with our current brand partners and will be doing everything we can to show people the true value of digital promotions. When it comes to rating my own achievements, I think I would rather leave it to others to make the call.
10. Who would you place in the Top 25 Multi-channel/e-commerce Movers & Shakers?
There are lots of top movers and shakers in the multi-channel world. I think particularly Dan Finley from JD Sports impresses me. He’s a very smart business man with great vision and is always keen to embrace technology.