Retailers will have to source technology talent from new and unorthodox locations as they look to continue their innovation agendas, according to a director at industry recruitment business ReThink Retail.

Kate Barron, director of London-based agency, argued this week that the gaming and gambling industries are sectors worth looking at for retailers eyeing eCommerce expertise.

"It's absolutely vital to offer an online marketplace to consumers and doing this requires employees with digital expertise," she explained.

"However, there are so few of these professionals available in the current market that firms will have to look elsewhere. This is why it’s so important for these brands to begin to engage with talent in other sectors."

There is more work for the retail industry as a whole to do in terms of promoting itself as a place for cutting-edge innovation, she added.

"The sector isn’t really seen as location of choice for many digital professionals and this has to change. Firms should utilise case studies of professionals who've moved into the sector and thrived and really push the message that the projects they could be involved in are as cutting edge and innovative as those they're currently working on."

There are a number of examples of large UK retailers with IT leaders who have experience working outside the retail world.

Halfords CIO Anna Barsby took on her current job after holding various tech roles at TUI Travel, while group IT director at Selfridges, Kath Roach, spent time heading up Heineken UK's technology department prior to taking on her position in retail.

John Lewis IT director Paul Coby is another example of a travel industry retail executive who has moved into retail technology, when in 2011 he joined the department store chain after two years as group CIO at British Airways.

Essential Retail readers can hear from the department store chain's IT boss in our big interview later this week.

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ReThink Retail