Being an Effective C-Level Leader Of A Retail Tech Company

An Interview With Kieran Powell, EVP of Channel V Media  Published in Authority Magazine, 02/14/2024

Guy Mordoch On 5 Things You Need To Be A Highly Effective C-Level Leader Of A Retail Tech Company

Open-Minded. Staying aligned with industry trends and fostering a culture of continuous learning is vital. Although I have many years of experience, I’m always listening to my team’s ideas and open to getting out of my comfort zone, which helps me challenge the conservative nature of the retail industry.

The retail industry is undergoing a seismic shift, largely driven by technology. From e-commerce to AI-driven customer experiences, technology is redefining how consumers interact with retail brands. This rapid transformation presents unique challenges and opportunities for C-level leaders in the retail tech space. Effective leadership is more critical than ever to navigate these changes, drive innovation, and maintain a competitive edge. As part of this series, we had the pleasure of interviewing Guy Mordoch.

Guy Mordoch, with his role as the CEO of Cust2Mate, stands at the forefront of innovation in the grocery retail sector, leading the charge towards a more efficient, user-friendly shopping experience with the company’s smart shopping cart technology. Mordoch’s journey through the echelons of the tech world is marked by a series of strategic positions that have not only showcased his expertise in sales and operational growth but also highlighted his ability to lead and transform businesses across various stages of development and geographical boundaries.

Mordoch’s tenure at Cust2Mate has been distinguished by his efforts to revolutionize the grocery shopping experience, making it seamless and more engaging for consumers while addressing the critical pain points faced by retailers. Under his leadership, Cust2Mate has become synonymous with innovation in retail technology, offering award-winning Smart Carts that are trusted by some of the leading grocery chains worldwide.

Before his current role, Mordoch carved out a niche for himself as a transformational leader across different continents and industries. His previous positions include Chief Operating Officer and Israel General Manager at Au10tix, where he was instrumental in scaling the company’s operations and elevating its business performance. As the Senior Vice President and Head of EMEA at BearingPoint//Beyond, he drove significant revenue growth in the digital platforms and BSS domains, showcasing his ability to foster growth in highly competitive environments.

Mordoch’s strategic acumen was further demonstrated during his time as COO at Trax Retail in Singapore, where he led the company’s transformation, preparing it for a successful IPO by ensuring operational excellence and readiness for public market scrutiny. His leadership roles at Amdocs and Comverse Technologies further underscore his expertise in managing large teams across the Asia Pacific region, driving sales, and operational growth.

His ability to rapidly transform businesses facing financial and operational challenges is a testament to his leadership style, characterized by assembling high-performing management teams and embedding effective performance management frameworks. Mordoch’s success in turning around Trax’s fortunes, helping it grow by 300% in 2017 and 150% in 2018 to achieve a valuation of over $1 billion, stands as a prime example of his strategic vision and execution prowess.

Mordoch’s specialties extend beyond operational leadership to include global cross-functional leadership, organizational transformation and growth, strategic planning, stakeholder management, and complex negotiations. His approach to leadership is rooted in developing cross-cultural relationships, team development, performance coaching, and mentoring, ensuring that his teams are not only high-performing but also well-aligned with the company’s strategic goals.

At the heart of Mordoch’s success is his ability to nurture long-term, trusted relationships with key stakeholders, including customers, management teams, partners, and employees. This skill has been crucial in his efforts to drive profitable growth and sustain business development across different markets and industries.

Guy Mordoch’s career trajectory embodies a blend of strategic foresight, operational excellence, and a deep commitment to innovation. As the CEO of Cust2Mate, he continues to push the boundaries of what’s possible in the retail technology space, setting new standards for the industry and paving the way for future advancements.

Ihad an interesting start to my career. I began at Intel, followed by various senior leadership roles at Comverse (CPO, SVP & Head of APAC) and Amdocs (Regional Vice President APAC), and eventually became COO at Trax Retail, a company that focused on transforming brick-and-mortar retailers through computer vision and analytics. I then served as SVP & Head of EMEA at BearingPoint, the largest European consulting firm, and COO of AU10TIX, an identity management fintech company.

I found my way back to retail technology when I was contacted by a recruiter who shared that A2Z Cust2Mate was looking for a new CEO. I jumped at the opportunity, understanding the revolutionary shift that smart shopping carts could deliver. Despite considerable investments in retail tech, the industry has seen limited ROI due to the low adoption rate of most technologies. I believed smart carts could change that.

Faced with the need to restructure the company, I pressed the reset button, initiating a complete overhaul. With a firm belief in the untapped potential and opportunities within smart carts, I rebuilt the team from the ground up. My mission was not only to turn the company around, but to position it as the next unicorn and the leading smart shopping cart player in the market.

Now, Cust2Mate has been landing some of the largest rollouts and orders of smart carts globally, deploying thousands of units across retailers worldwide, including Morton Williams, Yochananof, Carrefour, HaStok, Monoprix, and more.

What truly excites me is the prospect of transforming businesses that have the power to revolutionize entire industries. This drive has fueled my passion for leading change and innovation in the dynamic landscape of retail technology and brought me to where I am today.

It has been said that our mistakes can be our greatest teachers. Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

I never make mistakes…just kidding.

While I was at Intel, we acquired a company and I found myself managing a team with diverse personalities that didn’t quite align with existing employees, who were known for their uniformity. As a younger manager, I would set expectations for my team based on what I would expect from myself. I had never considered how societal factors and differences in work culture could influence work styles.

During the first performance evaluation, I contemplated letting go of a team member that I felt couldn’t perform to my standard. However, the CEO of the acquired company approached me expressing reluctance to part ways with the individual. This presented me with a decision — whether to terminate or take on the challenge of shifting my management style to better suit this employee.

Despite initial language barriers and cultural differences, I invested in addressing the weaknesses and leveraging the employee’s strengths. Surprisingly, the individual not only met Intel standards but exceeded expectations. We developed a strong professional relationship, and I eventually promoted him the next year.

This experience taught me that to be an effective manager, one should adjust and align their expectations to each person individually rather than expecting everyone to conform to their own style, which is crucial in building a successful company.

Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?

Cust2Mate recently launched its 3.0 smart cart to provide a frictionless shopping experience while optimizing store operations by integrating the digital world with the physical store.

The smart cart aims to fix existing issues faced by retailers and shoppers (like labor shortages and the self-checkout crisis), ultimately leading to increased customer loyalty, reduced shrinkage through enhanced security measures, and increased revenue.

The retail industry has seen a significant shift towards digital and e-commerce solutions. How have you adapted your business strategy to this digital transformation, and what challenges did you face in this transition?

Throughout the digital transformation, retailers have invested in online platforms, shifting their focus from the traditional brick-and-mortar shopping experience. However, research indicates that only 11% of grocery shopping is done online. Of that 11%, the majority of shoppers noted that they would return to the physical store if the shopping experience became frictionless, providing a huge opportunity for smart shopping carts.

Cust2Mate’s smart cart serves as a bridge between the physical store and the digital world, providing an omnichannel approach that creates a holistic understanding of shoppers for retailers. While this represents a significant leap in the digital transformation of retail, there are challenges to be addressed. The retail industry, particularly brick-and-mortar stores, tends to be conservative and slow in adopting new technology. They approach capital investments cautiously, especially given past experiences where self-checkout systems did not yield the expected outcomes.

Despite these challenges, Cust2Mate’s smart cart presents an opportunity to replace traditional self-checkout methods and digitize the shopping journey. While some retailers may hesitate to be early adopters, I am confident that our innovative solution will pave the way for a transformative shift in the retail landscape. In pilots and deployments, shoppers have embraced the tech — and user buy-in paves the way to business results.

How did this innovation impact your business?

Cust2Mate’s smart cart offers shoppers a completely frictionless experience. Through different innovative functionalities, utilization of the cart improves shoppers’ overall engagement and satisfaction.

By enabling on-cart payments, shoppers can pay using digital wallets, credit cards, PayPal, and even cryptocurrencies. This “pick and go” functionality streamlines the checkout process, reducing time spent on shopping and waiting in lines..

Additionally, the smart cart allows users to create a shopping list beforehand, and upon store entry, it suggests an optimized route to efficiently gather all the items. The technology goes beyond convenience by accommodating special diets and allergies, flagging items that have undesirable ingredients, while also presenting relevant coupons. While the cart is able to understand the individual shopper, recognizing their habits and preferences, it keeps privacy in mind and refrains from inundating them with spam advertisements.

These features not only contribute to a more cost-effective shopping trip but also add an element of reward for users.

What practices do you follow to ensure your team remains agile and innovative?

Cust2Mate keeps up with market trends by listening to our customers and staying apprised of what’s happening in the industry. We explore the latest technological advancements, assessing how they align with the challenges typical customers face.

Our commitment is to build solutions that seamlessly integrate into retailers’ operations and solve customers’ specific problems. We prioritize hiring top-tier tech talent, seeking individuals with knowledgeable backgrounds in cutting-edge technologies.

In an industry increasingly dominated by technology, how do you balance the use of tech solutions with the need for a human touch in customer service and team management?

Technology on its own is not enough, especially technology that isn’t mature, like AI — it needs the human touch.

Our approach doesn’t displace human labor; rather, it optimizes their role in delivering exceptional service. With concerns about labor shortages in the retail sector, smart carts can redirect workers’ duties, allowing them to serve in more intellectually stimulating positions. This makes the job more purposeful and desirable. Team management will always be necessary in this process because of the training and skill-building associated with new positions.

By incorporating a human attendant to welcome, introduce and teach the customer about the features of the smart cart, we significantly enhance adoption, as well as overall customer satisfaction. This is particularly impactful for older generations, as the usage of smart carts spans across all age groups, proving its user-friendly nature.

Based on your experience and success, what are the “5 Things You Need To Be A Highly Effective C-Level Leader Of A Retail Tech Company?” How have these 5 things impacted your work or your career?

1 .Strategic Vision

A highly effective C-level leader in a retail tech company needs a strategic vision that aligns with the fast-paced nature of the industry. In my experience, having a clear vision has been crucial in guiding Cust2Mates’ direction. For instance, when we identified the rising demand for seamless shopping experiences, I spearheaded the development of innovative features in our smart cart, such as personalized recommendations and a coupon engine.

2 .Innovative Approach

The retail tech landscape is dynamic, and success hinges on innovation. We pivoted our strategy when the market showed a growing preference for digitalization. This flexibility not only helped us stay ahead of the game but also positioned us as leaders in providing innovative solutions that seamlessly bridge the physical and digital retail experience.

3 .Customer-centric Focus

A successful leader in retail tech listens and prioritizes customer needs. Customer centricity is one of our core values: we know and understand our customers, and aim to keep their needs in mind in everything we develop, build, and deliver.

4 . Collaborative

When launching our new 3.0 smart cart, effective collaboration ensured seamless integration with existing systems. Everyday, all of the departments and functions at Cust2Mate work as one team to achieve common goals. By fostering open communication and cross-functional teamwork, we successfully navigated potential challenges and delivered a cohesive and well-received product.

5 .Open-Minded

Staying aligned with industry trends and fostering a culture of continuous learning is vital. Although I have many years of experience, I’m always listening to my team’s ideas and open to getting out of my comfort zone, which helps me challenge the conservative nature of the retail industry.

How are you preparing your company to adapt to these trends, and what role do you see your leadership playing in this adaptation?

I anticipate key trends to include optimizing store media and layouts to enable further insights for retailers in relation to customer behavior and supply chain needs, enhanced customer personalization through gamification, coupons and recommendations, and leveraging high-tech advancements such as AI.

To adapt, I encourage my team at Cust2Mate to engage in continuous learning and collaborating to embrace emerging new technologies. Because of this, Cust2Mate consistently remains at the forefront of technological advancements, taking the lead in innovation. With a heightened focus on personalized shopping experiences and the integration of advanced technologies like AI, we are dedicated to enhancing our smart cart technology to bridge the digital and physical shopping experience for shoppers.

If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be?

I really like the ‘pay it forward’ model. Just envision a world where individuals donate an hour of their time to impart a valuable skill or life lesson to someone else. In return, that person pays it forward by dedicating an hour to the next individual. This ripple effect could evolve into a major movement, fostering innovation and inspiration globally. The potential for boundless creativity and collaboration would be limitless, creating a ripple of positive impact.

This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!

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