APG Leadership Provides Insights on the Future
The following interview with APG`s Paul Griffiths, President and CEO; Andrew Carr, Managing Director of APG Europe and Stephen Bergeron, V.P. of Global Marketing and SMARTtill® Business Development, was issued by Ben Giese from Ixtenso; a media partner of the EuroCIS Retail Show.
This interview commentary discusses the reinvigorated focus of APG through a leadership perceptive; in the backdrop of an ever-evolving retail landscape.
The expansive APG product range, reflects its success in catering to all the nuanced requirements the retail sphere demands. From low volume drawers, to bespoke products and the all-encompassing SMARTtill® Technology Solution, utilising unique software and data analytics; we have something to accommodate every retail environment.
In the retail sphere there have been a number of economic challenges imposed upon businesses; through the transition to Brexit in the UK and the ever-evolving, multi-faceted relationship with how consumers engage with the retail experience. Although despite this, the demand from retailers to effectively manage their cash remains strong. Paul agrees there are retailers flourishing under the current conditions, dispelling the myth that retail is close to its `impending doom`.
Paul, Andrew and Stephen discuss the development of APG, with these evolving market conditions, in the forefront of their insights. Paul discusses APG`s reinvigorated focus on Sales and Marketing; through delivering alignment of customer requirements to their product range.
Paul, this is the first chance for you to reflect on your position within APG. What has been your experience so far?
Paul: Stepping in after Mark J. Olson after his 25-year leadership is daunting and certainly a challenge. He’s been an industry stalwart for a long time and is well respected. My leadership experience is really on the sales and marketing and product development side. What I like to do is understand the market and what’s changing, and then helping the company react to those changes.
When I showed up at APG, I knew it was a leading solutions provider in cash management at the point of sale. However, I didn’t truly appreciate what that meant concerning the breadth of the offering. It was really exciting to see that our product offering ranged from low volume cash environments all the way up to the custom bespoke cash drawer solutions to full in-lane cash automation.
With the recent changes and continuing changes to the retail labor pool, our customers looking for an opportunity to manage their cash better. APG has invested in developing a solution to meet this changing marketplace. The SMARTtill® Technology Solution is an all in one solution encompassing hardware, software and data analytics. The SMARTtill® Solution Suite has really transformed our organization into a complete solutions provider. That’s a big shift for APG both culturally and how we work with our partners and end customers. That challenge excited me. I’ve done that in other organizations where something changed within the marketplace and instead of sitting back and waiting we leaned forward leveraged our core competencies and better served our customers.
Leadership is not new to you, nor the retailing business. With fresh eyes from outside the POS world, have you already seen opportunities for APG?
Paul: Mark Olson has amazing strengths as an engineer with our manufacturing, driving production efficiency and quality. My background is working with customers and products. I bring a different knowledge-base with product development and sales to really make sure we are executing on the results of this focus from Mark.
I see my role as making sure each retailer is matched with the APG product that best fits their daily needs. We have the portfolio; we know we have the products to make their lives better. We need to endeavour to understand the specific customer settings and needs by communicating with our partners and really making sure they are fully equipped with the knowledge and confidence to make those matches.
Do the constant headlines of retailing`s impending doom give you pause having decided to lead a company so tethered to retailing`s success?
Paul: There is more good news than bad and there are businesses out there really succeeding. In the past, there were many retailers who could get away with a running loose organization but not anymore. Our solutions allow us to offer retailers the tools that allow them to take it to the next level. As an example; the SMARTtill® Solution opens up a whole new realm of possibilities. It is essential a store`s front-line employees to be trusted partners for that chain and are out there building relationships with customers. This key piece of a cash management technology within the POS ecosystem offers retailers, employees and customers confidence to know that they are being honest with one another. This is a big piece of freeing them up to take care of the customer.
Brexit has been hanging over our heads. APG has a large stake not only in the UK market but also has manufacturing and management in Newhaven and major activity in the EU. How much is this on APG’s mind?
Andrew: We’ve been preparing for Brexit since January. With the original exit date in March we were quite confident we had a good strategy in place. The recent delays have allowed us to dial in our plans, we are now in a wait and see position. We have the advantage of having multiple logistics centers in the continent. That said, we did raise our inventory within the continental EU. Our stance is that no matter the conditions of the relationship going forward, the needs of our customers will remain. Our job is to make them feel like no change ever occurred.
We hear a lot of apprehension about the Brexit. Is there potentially a silver lining for businesses?
Andrew: That’s a tough question. From our perspective, we do see that APG is well positioned to step in and fill potential voids and solve problems the industry may
be facing as a result of the Brexit. We don’t want to see anyone face difficulties, especially our partners. However, we are here and ready to step in and offer guidance, fill orders and pick up the slack.
Stephen, as V.P. of Global Marketing and SMARTtill® Business Development, what Paul said really supports your goals to reach customers. How does his addition to the team change your outlook going forward?
Stephen: From our industry knowledge and engineering background, we often speak about our features and functions. From the perspective of a customer, however, it is important to speak about the benefits our solutions offer the business. Just because you have a sophisticated piece of equipment that throws out a ton of data, is that really a solution? It might be but in the case of the SMARTtill® Solution, it’s more important for them to hear what that means, how it benefits them directly and makes them successful.
The most important ideas Paul and I share are our knowledge of and passion for seeing smart retailers succeed. Paul has this experience himself on the other side of the till, so to speak. We have both seen how first Walmart in the U.S. and now Amazon have globally forced retailers to really focus on the customer or die. We are now watching a resurrection of those retailers who have what it takes to please customers. APG is a partner to accomplish this and it is extremely satisfying to be a part of that.
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