25% increase in attendees to the Forum, 91% of attendees stayed for the Awards, 96% satisfaction rating overall for the event, 100% want to attend again – These are just some of the headlines from this year’s Metro Forum and Awards event where more than 120 retailers and guests attended the annual RMS forum.
With the sun again shining on Castle Malwood in the heart of The New Forest, Rob Morgan, Head of New Business & Marketing, alongside RMS Managing Director Karen Dyke kicked off the day with the traditional RMS Metro Oath, where guests and visitors pledge to take part and enjoy the day.
Following some scene setting and a short review of 2018 by Karen, Chris Ferns, Product Manager for Metro updated guests on what new functionality has been delivered within Unified Comms during 2018. For details of this and what’s coming next, you can see Chris’s slides here.
Taking us up to our first refreshment break, it was a delight to have the first of two new RMS customers take the stage and present ‘Life after Lotus Notes’. Cara Macdonald, Retail Operations Co-Ordinating Manager at DFS has been working in Retail for the last 15 years and loves utilising her experience to produce retail-based solutions that can support any of the wider team she works alongside. Having supported the launch of several national business initiatives over the last few years Cara is now working with DFS, the number one sofa specialist in Europe, to implement Metro into their business. DFS has more than 120 stores across the UK, Ireland, the Netherlands and Spain and employs over 3,600 people. Cara explained why the business needed to change from using email, Workplace, WhatsApp and conference calls to communicate tasks and information more effectively to its estate of more 120 stores across the UK, Ireland, the Netherlands and Spain. With multiple versions of the truth, a lack of visibility and engagement, DFS have been busy deploying ‘DFS Connect’, with all retail stores live on Metro by 17th June. Today DFS have a much slicker and informative site with a clear way of communicating ensuring everyone sees the news and content relevant to them. Feedback has been incredibly positive from store teams with the business experiencing increased compliance and engagement and Managers feeling more confident that specific operational tasks are completed within the allotted timeframe.
Next up, Simon Mills, Product Manager for Metro gave guests an update on how RMS have ‘metrofied’ Activity Planner. For details of this and what’s coming when you can see Simon’s slides here
Our second guest presenter of the day was Steve Shepherd, Head of Operations & Customer Service at The Entertainer, who took us on a bit of a journey explaining how over 35 years, The Entertainer is today a significant player in the world of toys, both nationwide and overseas. Steve has responsibility for Retail Operations, Customer Service & UK Partnership Relationships at The Entertainer. Having joined in 1995 he has worked his way through many roles to gain significant knowledge of retail, ensuring his knowledge has come from on the floor experience. Following the recent acquisition of Early Learning Centre from Mothercare he now heads up the support function that will drive the brand in the UK, along with an established toy offering within 85 Matalan stores. In December 2018 The Entertainer saved 55 Spanish toy stores trading under the POLY facia from going into administration, saving 350 jobs. On top of this, the business has opened ‘stores within stores’ with both Matalan and ELC resulting in 174 The Entertainer stores, 32 International stores, 85 Matalan stores, 55 Poly stores, 74 Mothercare stores and 509 ELC International stores – that is quite some growth in a short space of time. It was great to hear how The Entertainer has been utilising Metro across all of these brands to drive communications and compliance and we look forward to working with The Entertainer team to Infinity and Beyond. The Entertainer’s relationship with the RMS Team and the use of Metro extends to over 10 years with The Entertainer being the first RMS customer to deploy Metro to the cloud.
As we readied ourselves for a delicious BBQ buffet lunch, leading us up to lunch we heard from Julia Platia, Head of Client Services at Feed It Back, who look after some of the UK’s top hospitality brands such as Pitcher & Piano, Café Rouge, Bella Italia, Pho and Las Iguanas. A former owner/operator of a cocktail bar and restaurant, Julia is passionate about helping food and drink businesses to listen to their guests’ feedback and take action to improve. Julia and her team ensure that General Managers, Operations Managers and Head office staff get the most from the platform. Feed It Back tracks the word on the street about operators, through immediate feedback on experiences and online review platforms, such as Facebook and TripAdvisor. It aggregates all feedback into one easy to use platform that allows operators to efficiently deal with feedback they otherwise wouldn’t have heard, reward employees for excellent service and turn negative experiences into positives. Julia explained how Restaurants are today cashing in on ‘The Experiential Economy’ and that by providing something extra, creating meaningful and shareable memories is how hospitality and retail operators can stand out from the crowd and thrive. As part of Julia’s presentation, delegates were invited to ‘test drive’ the Feed It Back software and provide feedback on the forum and catering – which is where we got some of our stats above! You can contact Julia via email at firstname.lastname@example.org
With lunch done and everyone refreshed, it was time to welcome back Simon Mills to update everyone on what new functionality was delivered within Metro’s People modules during 2018. For details on what’s coming and when you can see Simon’s presentation here
It was then time for another Customer presentation as Aron Simpson-Webb and Stacie Malek-Wood from The Watches of Switzerland Group informed guests how they have used Metro to engage different audiences. With a combined twelve years of experience in their current communications roles at The Watches of Switzerland Group, Stacie and Aron have expansive and unique experiences on how to communicate and engage effectively within the luxury retail sector. Having adopted Unified Comms in 2016, they have steered the Group’s communications and engagement levels to new heights. From the early inception of a simple news and compliance platform, ONE (the name given to the platform for its all-encompassing vision) has developed significantly into the beating heart of company communications, achieving enviable rates of engagement and consistently developing the platform. Stacie and Aron are huge advocates of listening to feedback, never resting on what has been achieved, and constantly work to further improve their internal communication strategies. Explaining how ‘The ONEderful World of ONE’ had delivered 97% engagement across their estate of 140+ luxury retail stores and 2,500+ employees, their latest challenge has been to drive up engagement at Head Office from only 36% – It was incredible to hear how Aron, Stacie and the team set about addressing the issue firstly by recognising their retail and support teams were different, and as such need to be engaged in a different way. Following re-launch and re-design of ONE for their Support teams in just one month they drove engagement to over 76% and it is still rising. To hear how they achieved this, take a look at their presentation here or give us a call so we can tell you more/put you in touch.
Our next speaker needs little introduction, having been a Forum favourite for some years – Phillip Adcock, Managing Director of SBXL is a leading authority in shopper behaviour. With more than 30 years of human behavioural research, he has developed a unique ability to identify what it is that makes people tick, both psychologically and physiologically and has developed his skills by combining the teaching of experts on numerous aspects of neuroscience, psychology and emotion within his professional role of helping leading brands and retailers better understand how to communicate with their shoppers. This year Phillip explained how ‘Unlocking Retail Potential is all in the mind’ – explaining how the challenging times retail is experiencing is not just confined to the high street, but to brick and mortar retail overall. He went on to explain how what used to work is no longer effective and that ‘defensive decision making’ is partly why the system is broken. The answer it seems is Behavioural Science – to find out more on how to translate Behavioural Science into Business Success contact Phillip direct on 07960 109876
With brains scrambled, it was time to welcome to the stage Jane Wright (Print Product Manager) and Liam Cautley (Print Lead Developer), with a brief Metro Print update and share with everyone what new functionality was delivered during 2018. For more details, you can see their presentation here
After another refreshment break (it was very warm after all), it was time to hear from another new Metro customer in the shape of Mark Denton, Head of Technology at One Stop – for confidentiality reasons we are unable to share their presentation however we were treated to a terrifically candid and humorous view of the journey One Stop are on in terms of replacing technology for which Metro is playing major roles in driving communication and engagement and enhancing the shelf edge.
Our next guest speaker is fascinated by consumer behaviour and how to influence their decision making. This has unpinned his 20-year career spanning advertising, media, marketing and strategy consulting in the retail and consumer market. In this time, he’s helped retail and consumer organisations create visions, strategies and innovation programmes to help them engage connected consumers and grow their business in the digital economy. Chris Heap from Microsoft is Digital Transformation Lead at Microsoft UK and shared with us how Intelligent innovation is driving business change through data and AI. Looking at what challenges retail & hospitality are grappling with Chris explained the different thinking business leaders need to make in order to succeed and what innovations we are seeing that is driving change. A fascinating presentation and timely message to embrace innovation as a driver for change, in order to thrive. You can contact Chris direct on 07773 216136 to explore further the topics he touched on.
Our final guest speaker of the day is someone who has been in and around retail his entire working life, and today seeks to educate and develop the future captains of retail via the work he does as Managing Director of OSS Retail (the business behind the renowned Oxford Summer School). Dominic Prendergast started his retail career in 1975 as a management trainee at Allders. In a 20-year career span with the company, he reached senior positions both in Allders Department Stores and Allders International. After 3 years with BHS as a Regional Manager, he spent 12 years as a Retail Director with The Early Learning Centre, Thorntons and Jessops moving on to take the Managing Director role at Clery’s, Dublin until 2015. A true advocate of Oxford Summer School (OSS) he has been: a delegate in 1978, a committee member since 1995, Vice/Chairman from 2000 – 2002 and a speaker in 2004. After 2 years in the prime role of OSS Retail Committee Chairman, he headed the evolution of the programmes and is leading the brand into the future as its Managing Director. Dominic explained how since 1923, the OSS has been changing lives and transforming the careers of retail professionals and been evolving to now include Academy, Master and Foundation courses, held annually at one of the finest seats of learning in the world, Oxford University. OSS Retail programmes are unique as they are run by retailers for retailers and provide the opportunity for large and small retailers from across the UK and internationally to learn together and from one another – much like the aim of our forum! A new chapter for OSS Retail has begun as The British Retail Consortium has acquired OSS Retail to help accelerate the development of its careers and professional development offer and will enable Dominic and his team to continue their growth plans and target a wider customer base. Exciting times ahead – for more information on the OSS, please contact Dominic via the OSS Retail website.
Closing out the day we had Karen and members of the Metro team on stage to share what’s new and what’s next for Metro. Covering everything from Unified Comms, WFM, T&A, Employee Management and Print it is exciting to see what we have in store for Metro over the coming months.
With a final thanks to all our guest presenters, a full day of thought-provoking presentations came to an end, and an evening of fun, celebrations and live music began. With more than 90% of guests staying, a truly fantastic evening was had with a delicious dinner followed by stand-up comedy and the awards with Ian Moore and live music from London session band Original i.d.
We have received some incredible feedback from the day and evening with the overwhelming message that THIS was the best forum EVER. The bar was raised again with the Video entries – all of them hilarious and entertaining and we cannot wait to see even more entries next year although I suspect The Entertainer will be the ones to beat again!.
Be sure to join us next year – Thursday 9th July 2020!