Alan Brennan, Managing Director dcGTR, interviewed by Peter Marshall
PM: Alan, many congratulations on what appears to be a first for the industry. Can you briefly explain the background to how you identified a market need for what dcGTR is offering?
AB: Thank you, Peter. Both dcactiv and I took a deep dive into the world of Travel Retail over several months, with the primary purpose to explore and evaluate industry challenges and opportunities. These were largely centred on the traveller and their associated integrated shopper journeys. What resulted was the birth of dcGTR.
We could see a clear industry need to bring a differentiated and breakthrough approach to leverage new technology to better understand the traveller, to what drives greater purchasing behaviour and conversion, whilst delivering a seamless shopping experience – today, tomorrow and in the future.
PM: Dcactiv have been around for many years, working for major global brands. Would it be fair to say that dcGTR is more of what they already do, but with bells and whistles added, specifically tailored to the global travel retail market? Just how genuinely disruptive is your first-to-market technology?
AB: Well, I would articulate it slightly different, Peter. It’s true to say that dcactiv has been working internationally with leading FMCG companies for a number of years, providing a broad spectrum of tech solutions to help brands win at retail. Building on this experience, and combined with their expansive tech tools and know-how, dcGTR has pulled together a designated team and built a unique suite of VR/AR tools with an integrated ecosystem of B2B 3D apps specifically for TR.
The tech covers the commercial process built on six key pillars: planning, design, research, selling, execution and learning. Each pillar can be customised and integrated by the individual client, depending on their specific business need.
This unique suite of tech tools is first-to-market in TR. This, combined with our approach of merging such cutting edge technology with insight, brings new thinking and a fresh approach to address the historical TR issues of low footfall and conversion. Simply put, we provide a tech-based platform that allows for the capture of greater intelligence to better understand and decode what engages and drives greater purchasing behaviour of travellers who, as we know, are better connected and more informed during their integrated shopper journey.
PM: So how, then, would you define your USP?
AB: It’s our ability to provide a unique, end-to-end suite of services, with differentiated and cost effective disruptive solutions that leverage new tech with effective insight and intelligence. And the result? To drive purchase and increased shopper conversion for retailers, brands and airports.
PM: As you said, there are six pillars to your business. What’s the rationale for them?
AB: The six pillars are built on the foundation of advance technology centred on VR/AR and an ecosystem of digitalised, integrated 3D apps. The pillars support and facilitate the ability for clients to access greater intelligence, understanding and better insight into what drives purchasing behaviour and, in tandem, greater conversion across different integrated touch points on the shopper journey.
The scope and expansive reach of the pillars across the commercial process is from understanding and measuring the impact of new store design, through to store compliance on merchandise execution, to skill set and knowledge development of in-market retail sales and operations teams.
PM: How will the important tie-in with m1nd-set actually operate?
AB: Basically it’s a strategic collaboration between both companies, utilising collective resource, associated competencies in tech and research in order to offer clients an integrated, tech-based solution beyond traditional traveller and shopper-based research.
PM: Do you want your prospective clients to buy into the whole package so that dcGTR is the go-to, one-stop-shop for leveraging greater sales? Or can they cherry pick any individual element of your six pillar offering?
AB: No one size fits all, Peter. As different clients have different needs, depending on their individual business dynamics. The beauty of the tech across the six commercial pillars is that it can be customised per individual pillar or integrated across several different pillars in the commercial process, again depending on the client business needs.
PM: I think the app is a strong plus for you. How much importance do you place behind this?
AB: The ecosystem of B2B digital apps and associated playbooks are a positive disruptor to how retailers and brands manage their international operations across the pillars of selling-execution-learning. A great example of this is the mobile LEGO Retail Academy Learning app, designed for both their Domestic and Travel Retail stores, which ensures consistency of in-store execution and delivery of a great shopper brand experience in a LEGO store across their global business.
It created mobile learning with a global reach across multiple languages and cultures. Not only saving time and money, but having a dramatic impact on increasing the number of global digital learning hours. It achieved near 100% satisfactory score from users, with mystery shopper % scores increasing double digit in stores where personnel have used the Learning app.
PM: So who are you principally targeting – airports, retailers or suppliers?
AB: The tech has no boundaries in terms of its relevance and application across industry stakeholders – whether you’re an airport owner/operator, retailer or brand owner. We are actively engaging forward-looking stakeholders who are searching for differentiated and breakthrough solutions to solve current and future business challenges across the commercial process.
PM: What do you think will be the barriers you are most likely to encounter? Is price going to be a key factor?
AB: Good question. I believe the biggest challenge for any potential client to embrace such first-to-market tech is to be open-minded towards change. As a new approach, leveraging such tech can represent a level of risk versus a conventional industry approach which is currently used or in the past. Change for some can be uncomfortable and represent the unknown. So, listening and working in a collaborative manner with the client is paramount to ensure the process is painless, efficient and effective in delivering the right result.
I would also add that that a mindset for continual improvement is essential when one looks at the competitive set – both internally and externally in TR, and specifically from e-commerce. Industry stakeholders need to have greater courage to embrace change and associated new thinking and technology to create a competitive advantage centred on better intelligence on what drives greater purchasing behaviour with traveller shoppers. Looking at price, I don’t believe it should be a barrier. However, it is obviously a consideration in any project approval. The important point here is that the tech must create value for the client and be cost effective, when evaluated from a ROI perspective. Fortunately the tech is customised to the individual client in terms of needs and budget, therefore both value creation and cost effectiveness can be achieved with a positive ROI.
PM: Finally, Alan, what do you want to achieve in year 1?
AB: In simple terms, our ambition in year 1 is to work in collaboration with a finite number of forward looking, innovative clients across the commercial process. In tandem, the development team will continue to evolve the innovation pipeline of the tech to ensure that dcGTR continues to bring first-to-market, breakthrough innovation and new thinking across the commercial process in Travel Retail.