We recently had the opportunity to sit down with new Bamboo Rose President, Jonathan Baron, to discuss his background, his aspirations for the role and his vision for the future of retail.
Tell us about your background, and what brought you to Bamboo Rose.
I began my career in publishing and quickly moved to software where I’ve been working for more than 20 years. I began at Microsoft and spent time with some of the big players in the market. During this time, I was lucky enough to work with some of the most talented people in the world, but after a while, my entrepreneurial spirit began to push me toward my own venture. In 2009, I co-founded a company called TagMan, where we pioneered tag management that is commonly used by most websites today especially retailers.
The experience of growing a company in a sector of the market that didn’t previously exist was extremely rewarding. during this time retailers were our core customers, and we drove a lot of revenue for mid- to enterprise-sized brands. Everything I have experienced during my time at both big public companies and in the startup world has led me to this position, and I will be drawing on all of this experience to help Bamboo Rose be successful.
What does the future hold for retail businesses?
There’s no doubt that the forecast is showing dark clouds on the horizon for retailers who are still clinging to traditional ways of doing business. They’re dependent on catalogues and shopping malls to make sales. They’re competing with smartphone apps and online portals that give consumers 24/7 connectivity and access to information, as well as unparalleled service delivery. We’re in a major market adjustment period, and retailers need to face that reality or fall into the chasm. It’s a tall order, especially for the largest retailers who aren’t used to turning the ship as quickly as they need to today. In the next three years or so, in addition to the Amazons and Walmarts of the world, we’re going to see a shake out and the major players emerge.
Is there a silver lining? What has you excited?
It’s very exciting to be a part of it. I find disruption energizing because of the opportunity it presents. My friends all thought I was crazy when I went from the publishing industry to the internet software space years ago – but it’s safe to say now it was a smart move. The challenge will be in helping retailers make the necessary change, because traditional retail is based on a point of view that has existed for centuries. Bamboo Rose takes a very different approach by helping brands do business by integrating all their disparate systems into a connected, consumer-like tool. But being a pioneer is never easy – sometimes the voice at the forefront of a movement ends up standing alone. My experience can be a guide because I’ve already dealt with disruption in other industries.
Are you seeing any signs that change is already happening?
In general, there’s a level of fear and uncertainty in the industry, and not a whole lot of change happening just yet. We are starting to see IT organizations within major retailers being challenged to simplify and consolidate. They’re being tasked with creating clarity and unification and moving faster, not just in their world, but within stores, at the point of sale and across online platforms.
Retail IT departments are starting to see the same evolution cycles – and the same roadblocks – that corporate IT faced a decade ago. They’re beginning the process of technical cleanup to reduce complexity and bring real digitization to their brands. Technologically, brands need to have more than a website and an app; they need to digitally transform into the far reaches of the supply chain.
At what point will see a wholesale embrace of the New Retail Economy?
It will happen quicker than most people think. Malls are shrinking, major brands are filing for bankruptcy and most retailers just started paying attention to the situation in the last 18 to 24 months. The next several years will look completely different than the last few, as successful retailers will become hyper-focused on the consumer. Now more than ever, they need to provide on trend products, awesome in-store experience and have deep knowledge of their customer – from curating products the consumer can’t find anywhere else to understanding what price point they can afford and everything in between.
What role will Bamboo Rose play in this new retail landscape?
The world is changing and retailers need to adapt to it. The industry is already being heavily impacted by digitization. There are some specific transitions that are critical for retailers to make to stay competitive, and Bamboo Rose has the tools to support retailers in getting – and staying – ahead. Our customers are already changing the world in exciting ways as they embrace new technologies to compete at consumer speed.
Want to start going digital? Start by making the shift to digital sourcing.