News and Insights


01 May

People Power and Technology – Why Culture Is Critical for Retail Tech

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Author: Alex Musto

The first moon landing was an amazing feat of engineering made possible by the women and men who intimately understood the technology and the theories underpinning it. Footage from the time shows control rooms of equipment and people without whom this amazing achievement would not have been realised.

What has this got to do with retail technology today? It teaches us a lesson that’s still relevant: technology is only as good as the people who implement it.

Which makes choosing your next retail technology partner about more than systems and software. By partnering with a business whose culture ensures the exceptional is commonplace, your organisation will achieve more than you ever thought possible.

And, if you’re seeking your next, or even your first, tech career move, joining a company whose culture matches your own attitudes and beliefs will make work a pleasure with a team of like-minded people around you.

We’ve long understood the importance of people at REPL. So much so that our name stands for REmarkable PeopLe. But what does remarkable look like at REPL? How do the company values translate into exceptional outcomes for customers and employees? And how can you tell that REPL is a brilliant place to work? We reveal all in this article based on an interview with REPL’s chief executive officer, Cerys Johnson.

How REPL’s Culture Underpins Value for Retailers

Remarkable people have been the bedrock of REPL’s offering since its inception in 2008. Despite the firm’s rapid and continuing straight-line global growth, the company’s values have not changed, as Cerys explains: “At heart, values are inviolate. So the ones we had when we first started out are the same values we have now and they’re the bedrock of everything we do. Because we sell the skills and expertise of our people, every individual must bring the right attitude and behaviours to our customers every day.

“This means demonstrating a can-do attitude, building long-term relationships built on trust and being brave enough to challenge and influence with the best customer outcome always in mind.”

In one such display of courage, REPL delivered an unexpectedly brilliant outcome for a major global retail client. Approached by the customer with a project concept, REPL stayed true to its values and peeled back the spec, asking the questions to develop a deep understanding of the problem.

Armed with this insight, REPL was able to provide genuine thought leadership, challenge the client’s thinking and prove that the original concept would not resolve their problems. Instead, REPL proposed a fundamentally different, but better, solution and helped the client build the business case for sign-off.

Without such strong values lived by the whole team, it would have been easy to accept the original idea, take the money and implement an impractical solution. But REPL’s principles don’t allow this. As a result, the enormous benefit delivered to this particular client is a repeatable blueprint for always exceptional work, regardless of the customer or their challenge.  

Behaviours Matter From Top to Bottom

For values to become the way an organisation works, they need to be part of a company’s DNA. As Cerys notes, this means that everyone, at every level, stays true to the principles: “As a senior leadership team, we trust our people and empower our team to do the work they need to do with their customers. In return, they know that we will be open and transparent with them.”

By sharing the journey and involving employees in decision making, REPL’s people feel certain that the leadership will do the right thing for the company as a whole. This high-trust environment translates into extremely engaged employees who operate proactively, even during difficult times.

“By being open and honest about our intentions during the Covid-19 pandemic, our employees felt reassured,” says Cerys. “Instead of worrying about the future, they were able to focus on doing a brilliant job for our clients.”

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This meant that the employees in one office were happy to move specialist kit to their homes, out of hours so the customer wasn’t impacted. As a result, the team managed to deliver a remote go-live on schedule, while the customer’s other tech suppliers sought deadline extensions. Cerys believes that this level of dedication shows that working for REPL isn’t just a job: “It’s something that people believe in.” 

The key to securing this degree of employee commitment isn’t only about hiring talented technical candidates. It relies on seeking and securing people with the right deeply-rooted attitudes through carefully-planned recruitment.

Recruiting for Behaviours

Having a passionate leadership team helps to set the standard at REPL but this can only go so far. Individual employees also need to embody the same enthusiasm and this is something that REPL looks for during the recruitment process.

“The type of people we recruit have a fire in their belly,” says Cerys. “They have a desire to do something, to make a difference. REPL is a good organisation for people who want to be challenged, who like to grow and feel that they’re being developed. And it’s a place where people need to be brave enough to be themselves and embrace diversity of thinking.”

This means that REPL’s employees are not holding anything back at work, which allows passion to shine through. While skills are important, they change and evolve over time. What remains the same is an employee’s need to be curious, to challenge and pioneer breakthroughs. And it’s these attitudes that can’t be taught.

One of the main behaviours REPL seeks at recruitment is honesty – people who are straightforward both with themselves and others. This is critical because high-performing teams are underpinned by self-awareness and high levels of integrity. Cerys explains: “We need people who recognise that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Somebody who can be objective about themselves and others and work together collaboratively. At REPL, we don’t have space for individual champions – we celebrate success as a whole because that’s what really makes the difference.”

An Award-Winning Culture

As a tech company, REPL likes to be able to prove what it says – to back up its claims with science. And that’s now possible following two Great Place to Work awards won by REPL’s US and UK offices.

“We’re so, so proud of having won these awards,” says Cerys. “Our wins demonstrate the energy, passion and commitment of all REPL’s employees in making the company a brilliant workplace. Over 80% of our team responded to the Great Place to Work survey, which shows a very high level of engagement and that we’re trusted to identify actions and deliver on them.”

Having been measured against the world’s top 20 companies, receiving two Great Place to Work awards is an amazing achievement. But, in true REPL style, the business won’t rest on its laurels. As Cerys notes: “The awards give us actionable insight in areas where we’re performing relatively well but could still improve. So we know what we have to focus on to advance our business so our score is even better next time.”

If you’re ready to work with an award-winning retail technology team, get in touch today on +44 (0) 808 200 7375 to discuss your next project or career move.

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