With the recent news that independent shops in the UK are opening at their slowest rate in seven years, the need for retailers to embrace omnichannel has never been more important. Consumers now expect to be able to shop at their convenience instead of being restricted by opening hours, geography or in-store stock levels. Independent retailers that don't adapt to changing consumer habits will see customer retention and profits decline.
To address this decline, Lightspeed, a cloud-based point of sale (POS) system for retailers and restaurateurs, recently released its omnichannel product in the UK and across Europe this month. This means independent retailers can now easily launch an online store and sync it with their POS system.
The Retail Gazette caught up with Dax Dasilva to find out more about why omnichannel is so crucial for the retail sector.
1. What got you into the retail sector in the first place and why do you enjoy it?
When I was 12, I got my first Mac from my dad who was a graphic designer. The language of icons mapped to what seemed like impossible technology. With this new tool, I started to code. That fascination led to a love for the art of designing user interfaces, and led to years of developing beautiful software for retailers and businesses. Seeing the technological evolution of how people live, work and shop, I saw a need in the market for cloud-based business platforms. I enjoy being able to provide retailers with the simplest way to build, manage and grow a business, while also creating a better shopping experience.
2. How did you get to your current role as CEO of Lightspeed?
When I founded Lightspeed in 2005, we were ahead of the curve when it came to offering an easy-to-use POS solution to seamlessly run a shop. Since then, we have grown from four employees to 500, located in eight cities worldwide, with an existing growing customer base of 38,000.
Our commitment to independent businesses has evolved from retail POS, to an ecommerce platform that integrates with our retail product, and also a solution for restaurants.
3. How has your previous experience aided you?
Working in the Apple ecosystem during my 20s allowed me to develop my coding skills. It gave me the thirst to create and design software that is efficient and simple to use. I gained experience in perfecting the customer journey, through deep systems and rich sales tools. This is something which I applied from the beginning and it is something we continue to develop, launching new solutions such as omnichannel.
4. Explain Lightspeed.
Lightspeed is a cloud-based POS system and ecommerce platform for small to medium enterprises (SMEs). What makes us unique is how we blend the in-store and online experience. Our software works with retailers to help them grow and manage all aspects of the business.
With the launch of omnichannel we are empowering independent retailers to grow, develop and challenge their competitors by linking bricks and mortar stores to an online and mobile presence. This allows our customers to be wherever their consumers may be, and that includes markets beyond your home state or country. Consumer expectations have never been higher and in order for smaller businesses to keep up they need to meet these expectations. With consumer shopping trends evolving, customers now expect their purchasing experiences to be convenient, intuitive, and customized, whether they’re finding your product on the web or in store. Lightspeed enables businesses to do just that.
5. Who are your main competitors in the industry?
We don’t really have any direct competition in this space because we offer a no-compromise one-stop-shop solution for today’s retailer. We have products for retail, restaurants and ecommerce with the ability to bring retail and ecommerce together in omnichannel.
6. Who are you working with currently?
We are onboarding around 1500 new customers a month around the world. It’s definitely an exciting time now that we’ve launched omnichannel. In the UK we’re proud to work with such major brands as Leica, one of the oldest camera manufacturers in the world and Malin & Goetz, a cosmetics company that is shaking up the skincare space.
7. What advice would you give someone who is considering embarking in ecommerce?
It is important to choose a platform that can offer a wide variety of features while still being easy-to-use. It should be fully customisable to reflect your brand identity, and have the ability to grow with your business.
Some of the most important features you should look for in an ecommerce platform are a robust inventory management system, detailed and comprehensive reporting, a full suite of marketing tools, integrated shipping, and the ability to manage your products.
In today’s retail environment, creating a stellar brand experience is key, wherever your customers choose to find you. This is why Lightspeed’s omnichannel connector enables you to get to know your customers even better, while working from one system.
8. What would you say is the biggest risk for your sector, given the current climate?
At Lightspeed, our focus is on the amazing shops that bring city streets to life. We see this as an opportunity for SME’s and independents to think differently, disrupt and shake things up.
One impact of Brexit is a weaker pound. While this spells bad news for Brits travelling abroad, it also means that British exports are cheaper. This should be seen as a call for independents to ramp up their exports (or move into exporting if they aren't already). This underscores the need to think globally, and embrace omnichannel, because your customers are not just the people in your local area.