Female Leader Conversations Feature Emma Sharley, Director Sharley Consulting said, “Plan for success and success will come to you.”
Emma Sharley is an experienced brand and marketing strategist, who works with CEOs and CMOs of established and emerging companies in the retail and technology industries to drive growth.
With global insight, she is well versed in what’s required at each stage of business growth and her areas of focus are on brand building, go-to market strategy, and organisational change.
An award-winning entrepreneur with a passion for pushing industries forward, Emma sits on various advisory boards and regularly writes and speaks on emerging behavioural trends, brand strategy, and conversational marketing.
How do you help retail brands grow in a crowded market?
By working with businesses to define and articulate their brand, which drives every decision in the business and sets the foundation for marketing, messaging and growth. The process involves research, forecasting, and working with the teams to set a clear vision and purpose for the business.
It’s often a lot more complex than people realise as it extends well beyond the tangible elements; to social influence, community, and identity. It can mean different things to different people at different times. Brands are emotive, and businesses that hold a deeper meaning with their customer, beyond function or rational value, will always have more impact than those that don’t.
What are the brand leadership opportunities in the technology industry?
Transparent leadership to help clear consciences. The industry still gets by with unclear privacy policies, significant data and AI-biases, and significant environmental footprints that rarely get reported on. For example, deep learning has a terrible carbon footprint, and training one single AI model can emit as much carbon as five cars in their lifetime.
In retail, we’re still in the early stages of complete value chain transparency, but we’re seeing retailers audit and de-risk their practices by identifying any areas that could potentially erode consumer trust. Some are using blockchain to help disclose their processes, others are proactively reporting on their commitment to reducing environmental impact.
Technology has an opportunity to follow suit, and tie this into a strong narrative that shifts from communicating change to shaping the industry.
SOLVING GROWING PAINS
What type of leadership is required across business growth stages?
For early-stage start-ups; a dynamic, hands-on, decisive approach is required. The focus needs to be on audience first, then product, to build brand value and influence in the market. Active listening helps to build trust with customers, team members, and partners. And flexibility is important, it’s conducive to problem solving and creativity.
As businesses grow, the type of leadership, people, processes and systems will either help or hinder growth. Good leaders at established companies are exceptional at aligning internal culture with external culture, organisational design and transformation, and strategic alliances.
How will technology continue to revolutionise retail?
For the past decade, we’ve seen advancements in technology disrupt most facets of the retail experience. Yet, we’re still in the nascent stages.
The best retailers globally have designed or redesigned their business models to be inherently intertwined with technology. As emerging customer behaviours and new technologies take us into new territory, they move and respond seamlessly across all channels. Being where the customer wants them to be with easy, simple, intuitive, memorable experiences.
In retail, the technology I’m most focused on is conversational AI. The next two years will see retailers investing in the growing intelligent interfaces trend across chatbots, voice assistants and digital avatars. People are wanting to converse with brands this way, and retailers can bridge the gap by understanding when customer behaviour naturally coincides with innovation, and by using an intuitive human-centred approach across these platforms.