Shop Direct appoints Jon Rudoe to the board

Shop Direct has hired Jon Rudoe to head up the e-tailer's technology strategy as board-level retail and technology director.

Rudoe, who is currently digital and technology director at Sainsbury's, will join Shop Direct in April 2017 and will report directly to CEO, Alex Baldock.

At Sainsbury's Rudoe currently looks after all technology, as well as the digital businesses, digital and marketing innovation and user experience. Before joining Sainsbury's Rudoe was head of retail at Ocado, where his team more than doubled sales for the online retailer.

Shop Direct plans to introduce a new team structure when Rudoe joins next year, with retail and IT working closely together for the first time. Rudoe will oversee eCommerce, marketing, trading commercial, business development, Very Exclusive and IT.

"We’re delighted that Jon has chosen to join us at such a pivotal point in our transformation. With four consecutive years of sales and profit growth under our belts, his vast experience and expertise in digital, technology and trading will help us further accelerate our ambitious plans to become a world class digital retailer," said Alex Baldock, group CEO of Shop Direct.

"In particular, bringing together our ecommerce and IT teams into one combined function with Jon at the helm will allow us to respond more quickly to our customers’ rapidly changing needs, and to be faster to market in identifying and implementing new tech-focused opportunities. It’s a bold and exciting move and one that will deliver massive benefits for us. I can’t wait to work with Jon."

Jon Rudoe added: “As a pureplay etailer with a clear, proven strategy and a hunger to be at the forefront of customer-centred technological change, Shop Direct is arguably the most exciting place to be in UK retail right now."

He said: "Technology has an enormous role to play in further enhancing the shopping experience that Shop Direct offers its customers and in delivering its world class ambitions. The team is second to none and I’m excited to be joining and seeing what we can achieve together."

Shop Direct has made several technology announcements in recent months:

Personalisation – Shop Direct intends to tailor everything for its shoppers and is working with SAS to gain better insight out of data analytics in order to serve the right products online at the right time.

Artificial intelligenceAI is a big focus for Shop Direct in the year ahead, with Baldock calling it a "computer on steroids". The retailer is using this next-generation of technology to heighten its personalisation efforts. Shop Direct is also using data, predictive models and AI to build a programmatic and automated customer management engine. The e-tailer claims this will help it create an even more personalised customer journey, from more relevant and timely emails, SMS, push notifications, social media and on-site communications, to real-time, relevant special offers for each customer.

As well as automatically answering customer concerns as another channel for customer service, AI will also be integrated into the shopping journey to help customers choose what to buy.

Mobile – The e-tailer did not have a mobile strategy four years ago, but now mobile transactions now make up 62% of Shop Direct sales.