Rich Lowe, CEO, PMC Retail
“The UK retail tech sector is rich with innovation and with people who are committed to making it successful. This is a great industry to be in. Partnering with great customers and fantastic technology vendors is at the heart of where PMC wants to be.”
Founders: Paul Mason
Founded: January 2001
Headquartered: Abingdon, UK
Employees: About 400
Customers: About 50 at any given time
Tell us about your company and its USP.
PMC Retail was founded in 2001 by Paul Mason with a vision to support retailers in making informed decisions about Retail IT. The company grew organically and quickly expanded to offer business analysis, programme management and delivery services for transformation programmes. Today, we have just under 400 people in the business, co-located across our UK and India offices.
We work alongside our customers and technology vendors to deliver transformational change. We believe there is critical role for integrators who can bring relevant domain expertise, plus the cultural and sector skills to support both customers and vendors land change that is unique to their needs.
What sets PMC apart is a focus on bringing together the skills and technology our customers need, to get the best from their existing investments today, whilst also planning and executing change for tomorrow.
How do you deliver on this USP?
Transformation plans need to take account of existing principal technology, together with an organisation’s ability to execute and absorb change. The transition to new platforms and solutions requires the correct skillsets, scalable teams and the appropriate level of support for the lifecycle of the technology.
Many of our customers quite often don’t have the skillsets in-house to architect, deliver and staff those programmes. That’s when we really get on the side of the retailer to help. We work with some of the leading technology vendors – including Aptos, Flooid, Oracle Retail, Enactor and Microsoft – supporting them land the right outcomes for their customers. We also help some of the new start-ups, who bring innovation and new ideas, but may not have the delivery and support capabilities to enable them to scale
By providing our services and a full suite of automation from both the UK and India, we can lower the cost to deliver. One of the big challenges for UK industry – and not just in the retail sector – is the digital skills gap. That’s where we really come in – we have not only a great pool of ex-retailers among our UK employees, we also have a brilliant skills pool in India that we can pull through behind that. That’s why the supplementary model in the UK and India works really well for our customers and means we can move in an agile and flexible way.
How does PMC deliver change for its customers?
The transformational change required by retailers is no longer about large, never-ending programmes to establish EPOS, ERP or ecommerce platforms. With the right choices, transformational change can be enabled by rapidly integrating targeted solutions with those existing platforms.
Cloud microservice architectures allow change to be delivered independently of traditional vendor technology silos. So we work closely with leading technology vendors, whilst also independently providing development, integration and support services. We can help our customers move quickly to deliver change by bringing deep domain skills and our own development capabilities into play where required.
Over the last 18 months, the investment in our own Cloud Development and Integration Services means we can rapidly deliver solutions to our customers’ integration challenges alongside existing technology. We enable our customers to get the best from their technology investments today, whilst building a roadmap of change for tomorrow that their business can rapidly deploy, absorb and indeed afford.
Which retailers do you work with?
We partner with a wide range of retail and B2C customers in the UK, from Specsavers, Games Workshop, Reiss and Monsoon Accessorize to World Duty Free, Primark, Estée Lauder, Hotel Chocolat and Thorntons. At any time we’re probably working with about 50 retailers, either running projects or providing support to deliver services. Our role is to support them in adapting their business model to suit the new expectations of their customers, as the balance between channels shifts.
Looking ahead, to peak and the challenges of coronavirus, what do you see coming up – and how will you help your clients?
This Christmas and the golden quarter are critical for many retailers. For us, it means supporting our customers with peak planning to ensure systems are robust and well prepared and ensuring we’ve got our 24/7 services scaled to support higher volumes.
Looking beyond that at the wider set of challenges, I see many opportunities for our sector. People enjoy the concierge services that technology can now provide across channels. I think there’s a big catch up in terms of the technology that’s in the hands of store staff and consumers. Ensuring that retailers have the technology instore to replicate the type of brand building online. This is where we are putting focus.
What targets are you aiming to achieve in the next five years?
We also recognise that everyone is starting from a different place, so the need is for technology service providers with both breadth of capability and deep sector expertise.
Retailers are increasingly focusing on mobile solutions and bringing cloud architectures into their business model. We can use our cloud platform and integration application, enabling our customers to move at pace and deliver change faster, without the hassle of managing infrastructure.
We’re investing further in our managed services practice and scripting, so we can look for problems that exist in the IT estate, anticipate them and remove them. That level of automation is going to be very important in relation to the provision of managed services, to make sure we have the right kind of visibility, security and control for our customers’ estates.
Above all else, we will carry on doing right by our customers. Trust is very important in retail, very important for us and our customers.