Essential Retail caught up with Chris Griffin, former director of eCommerce at global fashion retailer Superdry, to find out about his new technology venture, Anatwine.

The eCommerce technology start-up is looking to help retailers connect their systems, in order to boost efficiency and improve the customer experience.

Essential Retail: What is Anatwine looking to achieve, and which retailers are you looking to work with?

Chris Griffin: Anatwine is in discussions, at contract stage or live, with 150 of the top 200 global fashion brands and retailers on the planet.

The retail fashion business may have had a major makeover in the past decade but every retailer and brand accepts the current wholesale model is flawed. Buying in advance and limited to a small subset of a brand’s range, even with the use of increasingly sophisticated analytics in this fickle fashion market it is generally accepted that buying decisions rarely align with all the brand’s most successful products. The truth is that no one is getting a good deal. The brand is failing to ensure all its top products are with the right retailers; the retailers are forced to discount in order to shift poorer performing products - further detracting from the brands; and the customer offer is, by default, fundamentally limited.

As such we decided to create the largest global network for fashion retailers and brands by connecting their business systems in real time through a single integration. This eliminates the inefficiencies found in the current wholesale only model and in turn enables the retailer to present the perfect stock mix, while ensuring every customer touch point, from imagery to delivery and returns is identical, creating a consistent and guaranteed customer experience irrespective of whether an order is fulfilled from a retailer’s or brand’s warehouse.

ER: Lots of retailer tech leaders are jumping vendor side at the moment. Why do you think that is and what's it like being on the 'other side'?

CG: There is so much innovation taking place in the retail technology space at the moment and the landscape is rapidly changing. With this in mind, it doesn’t surprise me that tech leaders in the retail space are moving vendor side as they are perfectly placed to resolve the issues they know the retail space has. When working within retail it is easy to get frustrated with the technologies and solutions that are, and in some cases, are not available to you. With the shift to multichannel and the increasing expectations from the consumer, heads of technology within the sector will often find gaps to fill. This makes them extremely knowledgeable and the perfect candidates to champion and design innovative technologies.

ER: How would you describe the current retail technology landscape?

CG: The current retail landscape is full of exciting, innovative companies with amazing ideas that are not only empowering retailers to make a change but to also work more efficiently. We have reached a time where retailers now want functionality that pushes the basic boundaries previously available and helps them to make smarter decisions. It is clear that an evolution has taken place in the retail space over the last few years and it is exciting to watch how this has already started to transform so many processes; making a real difference to the overall industry.

This in turn not only results in new opportunities for the retailer but also the brand and more importantly, the consumer.  

ER: What is retail's greatest challenge at present? 

CG: I think the main challenge for retailers at the moment is managing stock. With so much choice it is becoming increasingly hard to create the perfect stock file for the customer, and with everyone moving towards ever increasing personalisation, it is becoming more difficult for retailers to curate ranges months in advance and fulfill the customers need to see the best products from multiple brands. Couple this with high service levels and the need for a consistent experience for the customer across the whole journey, things need to change in order to create and deliver a true multichannel experience.

Creating the perfect stock mix is so crucial. Experiences that are put together months in advance and that are highly subjective will dissolution the customer. We need to give retailers and merchandisers the tools to better manage and enhance their stock files in a live environment, meaning that they can deliver a more relevant and personalised journey to every customer, every time; whilst still providing the highest levels of customer service. 

ER: Where do you expect the Anatwine business to be this time next year?

CG: Connecting the world's leading fashion retailers and brands is the number one focus of our corporate strategy. This means that over the next 12 months we want to be in a position where we have substantially completed this task and are helping retailers to create better stock files, and higher levels of customer loyalty; while driving unseen levels of personalisation and product availability. For us, it is all about driving efficiencies for the retailer and the brand by increasing the availability of relevant stock, it isn’t about just providing more; it is about providing the right stock. This is turn will help the retailer to provide the customer with the optimal experience.

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Anatwine