Blundy embraces online, international
Returning to Australia from his Singapore base to address the Large Format Retail Association (LFRA) 2015 NSW Forum, Blundy said he considers online an opportunity for his businesses, rather than a threat.
“The way that I view it, our job as a retailer is to ensure that we pay attention to our customer, and whichever way that they want to purchase our product from us, they ought to be allowed to. We’ll find a way to be able to deliver that to them,” he said.
“That’s the way I see online – we’ve got to get on with it.
“I see all these things as opportunity. Sometimes we underinvest, sometimes we overinvest, we’re still learning in this space, but it’s very dynamic – it’s very powerful.”
The establishment of international retailers in Australia and their challenges to bricks and mortar is also on his radar. Blundy says he likes to take the word ‘international’ out of the question.
“We ought not to be looking at international in a way that makes us fearful. We should just look at it as we have (always) done – and everybody who’s a retailer has got competitors, whether they’re direct competitors or associated competitors,” he told the LFRA Forum.
“Our job is to make sure that we are in the game; that we can match our competitors, beat our competitors, at whatever it is we’ve choosing to trying to do, whether our product or service.”
He says globalisation is part of the future.
“We operate from Moscow to Johannesburg, and the Cotton On Group is operating as far away as Germany, so with globalisation going on, the important point is that globalisation is here.”
Over time, he believes there will be more global brands that do well and more global retailers open to Australia.
“We’re prepared for that and those who of you who are able, you should be pushing out to other countries, and globalising also. I don’t think it’s a doom and gloom thing for Australian retailers – it’s an opportunity.”
Customer service is another key to retail success, and according to Blundy, it has everything to do with attitude.
“The most important thing, which is hard to get through a whole organisation must be someone who’s bright and has an attitude that says ‘I can be this’, ‘I can do this job’.”
At senior level, the number one quality is being uniquely humble, says Blundy.
“Obviously there’s skills and competency, that’s a natural, but humility is the most important thing.
“Customer service is more about products now. Buying a product that connects with customers and acknowledges who they are, more than great customer service on the floor and engagement in that one on one.
“I don’t think anyone has mastered it. It’s a challenge for all of us.”