And putting the customer first.

With applications open for the Retail Executive of the Year award, Appliance Retailer thought it timely to ask last year’s winner, Winning Group CEO, John Winning what the award meant to him.

“Winning an award like this is not only a huge honour it is a testament to all the hard work you have put in. At the Winning Group our customer is at the core of everything we do, being acknowledged with an award like this is a great achievement that reflects the strength of the group and our passion for creating innovative and enjoyable retail experiences,” he said.

Success, he said, lies in putting the customer first. “I am extremely proud of the companies and the people that work for our businesses and together we have pioneered the way for new retail experiences in Australia.”

Complacency is clearly not part of this with Winning adamant that retailers must continue to innovate and evolve, not only to embrace new technologies and ways of doing business but also to cater to customers’ changing wants and needs.  “Customers are also more demanding of great experiences, have shorter attention spans and are far less forgiving and patient.”

As to where technology like the Internet of Things (IoT) was taking retailers, Winning is yet to form an opinion. ”I think everyone has their own definition for IoT but I am yet to see a good application for it. “However, if you want to talk connected homes or connected appliances then I understand the question and have answers. I think that connected homes and appliances will make people’s lives easier and people lazier, myself included, but then again most advancements in the digital age have led to this outcome. As a user I think what will be possible with connected homes and appliances are really going to be a leap forward in energy and timesaving. Everyone wants to save time on day-to-day chores and connected homes will allow this.”

Asked about the entry of online retail giant Amazon into Australian he admits Amazon will definitely shake up the industry.  “However, I think the retailers that are now starting to panic about the looming threat probably have a problem with their core business and should have looked to fix that before Amazon threatened to enter the market.

“At Appliances Online we focus on providing the absolute best customer experience the whole time and that means giving the most competitive price possible, having a great website and providing an unbelievable delivery experience which we will continue to do when Amazon does arrive. I think all retailers will feel the effect of Amazon but to be the best, you have to beat the best so we welcome the competition.”

He also believes the housing boom is far from over and will be around for some time yet, particularly in metropolitan areas although the outer suburbs may come off in the short term.  “The long term housing market remains positive as there is still a supply shortage.  We have new stores in the pipeline and new technologies to enhance the in-store experience, speed of transactions, demonstrations of appliances and delivery experience.” As for taking the group offshore: “we have no immediate plans for overseas but you never know what the future holds.”

Finally, did he have any advice for up and coming executives? “Back yourself and take risks and love what you do or do something else.”

Appliance Retailer also invited CEO Magazine, founder and CEO, Chris Dutton, for his thoughts on makes a good senior executive. “He is a leader, gets their employees and team wanting to work and perform for the brand and not to see it as just a job. They get staff engaged and motivated to want to work for the company. A good leader empowers his team, trusts them to deliver, and believes in their ability. Your customers are not your priority, your staff are. If you look after them, they will look after your customers and the rest will follow.”

CEO Magazine is calling for all retail leaders to apply for the 6th annual Retail Executive of the Year award. The awards recognise the achievements of leaders and professionals over the past year and the contributions they have made to their companies across industry-specific categories.  The event will be held at Crown Melbourne on 15 November. Applications close 14 July 2017.