What makes a great retail technology leader?

Retailers need to be as tech-centric as their shoppers, and those running technology departments should all have several common traits. Internet Retailing has explored what those attributes are in a special white paper produced alongside payment specialist Klarna, helping make clear what comprises a great retail technology leader.

All businesses are different, and each retail sector has its unique challenges and methods of working. But for true success in a competitive market, there are certain characteristics that stand out in a retail technology leader, according to the report.

In any sector, be it business, government, the arts or business, leaders need to take their team with them, push the boundaries, and not be afraid to fail – it’s an ‘aim for the moon and you might just fall among the stars’ type of thinking.

Retail industry luminaries such as Schuh director of e-commerce and customer experience, Sean McKee, and Yoox Net-a-Porter’s president of online flagship stores Paolo Mascio and Ocado’s smart platform boss Dan Nelson are among those quoted in the report, and they all think along similar lines.

Retail leadership today

During this period of significant disruption in retail, more than ever there is a need for brave leadership that involves big decisions. If retailers want to compete with the likes of fast-moving commerce companies like Amazon, they need to accelerate their investment in the customer experience, or they may not be around in a few years’ time.

M&S making moves

It was refreshing to see Marks & Spencer (M&S) CEO Steve Rowe lay his cards on the table at Retail Week Live at the start of March, acknowledging that the company has struggled to keep pace with other retailers and keep hold of its customers in some of its previously popular categories.

He is committed to turning things around and pledged to roll out new services and solutions, fail fast where necessary, and invest further in digital technology to keep the business on track. It is expected that more than a third of M&S’s business will be e-commerce sales within five years, and recent moves to join its food and fashion arms through additional click & collect services is a welcome move, and a sign of joined-up thinking.

Rowe gave the impression of a business leader who knows where his company’s strengths lie, and he seems adamant on finding ways to work smarter to make the most of them.

Inspiration and beyond

Leaders in their respective fields are an inspiration to others. But inspiration is just one part of the puzzle that makes up successful leadership. And how do leaders go about rallying their teams to achieve success?

What are the other characteristics that define today’s leaders, and what do those currently working in the retail technology space think is specifically relevant to successful leadership in their ever-evolving industry?

Download the Internet Retailing-Klarna white paper ‘4 characteristics of retail technology leaders’ for tips on how to inspire technology change within your organisation


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