Ivan Mazour, CEO and Founder, Ometria

1. What is the greatest opportunity for your business?

In our modern world, we struggle for time, and are overloaded in every direction with information. The opportunity we have is to change the way retail marketers practice, and enable them to give back their customers time, rather than take it away from them.

We are stressed out, and retailers who send a deluge of marketing messages to busy customers are just contributing to this – the last thing any marketer wants.

Retailers who can master individually-tailored, helpful communications about the products customers actually want will reap the rewards of doing so. Our business is singularly designed to enable retailers to do this, and I can’t wait to see how we can change the face of retail marketing.

2. What is the biggest challenge to your business?

The biggest challenge Ometria faces is the relative infancy of the retail sector’s transition from more generic, campaign-driven marketing, to new customer-focused strategies. It’s important for retailers today to prioritise the customer’s experience above anything, and enable this through smart, data-driven and personalised marketing that places value on saving the customer time, rather than taking it up. For us it’s really important to communicate to retailers that the overkill of email, or any other channel, can actually harm the relationship and damage the customer’s experience of the brand.

While retailers today tend to see improving marketing – and therefore overall customer experience – as important, when we arrived on the market there was a gap between understanding the need for this and actually delivering it. That gap is closing, but we have had to do a huge amount of educating in order to help move the market through this transition. That’s included setting up resources such as our blog and whitepapers, as well as holding events like our annual Lifecycle conference, which is now the biggest retail retention marketing conference in the UK .

Ivan Mazour, Ometria

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

A big part of our culture at Ometria is consistently seeking feedback and learning from our mistakes as a means to improving ourselves and the product. There isn’t anything major in our history that we’d necessarily like to completely turn the clock back on, but one thing we did learn very early on was that focusing on data alone wasn’t enough.

When Ometria was first founded we were primarily focused on providing visibility into a retailer’s data. Yet through speaking to our customers we realised that though access to data was a good foundation, what retailers really wanted was for their customers to be loyal. The ability to action the data in personalised marketing campaigns. Talking to scores of retailers as part of this process led to us building the marketing platform part of our solution, which has enabled the business to grow significantly.

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

Digital wildfire in its purest sense relates to the spread of misinformation (mostly political) which, given our retail focus, isn’t something that crops up often.

However, as a business that deals with data we have a responsibility to handle it with care and provide accurate, relevant and targeted information off the back of it. Providing transparency on data collection, and giving customers choice as to how that data is used and processed is a core value for any retailer looking to provide great experiences.

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

The online and offline worlds will become increasingly united and connected via technology, meaning physical stores will use data and insights from online channels to make the physical act of shopping more personalised and experience focused. Some companies are figuring out smart ways to join up the on- and offline worlds already. Farfetch for example is already innovating in this space; using data to enable its shop assistants to provide better advice to individuals. They have experimented with an RFID-enabled clothing rack which detects the shopper’s browsing habits and auto-populates their wishlist online.

However, the two channels are still siloed for many retailers. In a decade we’ll see both connected, with retailers having access to a complete shopper profile at any given moment, whether they’re shopping on or offline.

I also believe that as protecting the environment becomes more of an issue for consumers and subscription services become the default format for businesses, that shops will rent products, rather than continually mass-producing clothes and other items. The high street of the future will know its customers, and provide them with sustainable options for wearing a huge range of different clothes, or even using different furniture.

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

All the data indicates that people are moving more and more to online, and that online is moving more and more to mobile. However, I do believe that there will always be a place for the physical store – but that retailers will need to approach customer experience with a fully omnichannel, linked up mindset.

7. What retail businesses do you admire?

I admire businesses that are customer focused and embrace personalisation wholeheartedly rather than just pay lip-service to it. From Emma Bridgewater, whose work on personalisation with us led to an increase in return customers of almost a third, and a 65% increase in active customers – to Not On The High Street, whose business revolves around customising the experience and product for the individual.

Feelunique is another brand that has fully embraced a personalised marketing approach and – rather than contributing to the mass of generic marketing – is actively trying to limit the number of messages they send. To have that control and trust in the power of personalisation is impressive, and is paying off for the brand – to the tune of a 95% uplift in revenue per email in a campaign we worked on together. 

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

I’d be running a SpaceX competitor, here in the UK.

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

We prefer not to give marks for anything, because the day you’re satisfied with your achievements is the day you stop innovating. At Ometria one of our core values is being ‘relentless in the pursuit of mastery’; and whilst we recognise nothing is ever perfect, I am someone that seeks to improve at all times. The company is ever-evolving and we need to ensure that we are always at the cutting-edge of retail marketing to ensure that we can reach the heights of our collective ambitions.

10. Who would you place at the top of the Movers & Shakers in Retail?

Fast fashion is such a competitive space and I’m particularly interested to see the success of brands at the forefront of that vertical, like Pretty Little Thing. Brands like this are truly investing in creating great customer experiences at scale.

Glossier is also doing some exciting things and demonstrating impressive growth, and I’m always interested to see what they do next. The brand has done an incredible job of galvanising a movement, and creating a community with buzz around their products and culture. They have been experimental with their marketing through pop-ups and influencer marketing, and have curated experiences that customers genuinely want to be part of.

It’ll be interesting to see how both these businesses continue their momentum and innovation in the long term; particularly how they fare retaining customers and keeping them loyal once the initial buzz has died down.

This is one in an ongoing series of profiles with individuals that are featured in the annual ‘Retail Insider Movers & Shakers in Retail Top 100‘.