SalesTechStar Interview with Gary Stonell, SVP of Sales and Operations at Opterus
Gary Stonell, SVP of Sales and Operations at Opterus highlights more on what can drive better retail journeys and communication in this short Q&A:
Welcome to this SalesTechStar chat Gary, tell us about yourself your journey through B2B sales over the years…we’d love to hear more about your role at Opterus…
My career journey started in a sales role at Kraft Foods, and then with an electronics organization. I joined Opterus in 2016 when it was just a team of six. Now we have over 15 employees and I serve as SVP of sales and operations. In my role, I oversee sales and operations of our task management solutions that help retailers increase productivity and enterprise communications.
How has Opterus as a platform evolved over the years? We’d love to specifically hear more about the release of OPSEngine….
Opterus’ flagship solution, OPSCENTER, was originally constructed with a modular architecture and it has continually evolved to meet the needs of the ever-changing retail market. OPSCENTER started with five modules with functionality for messaging, tasks and issue tickets but over the last 10 years several modules have been added to enhance our key offerings and provide completely new solutions. This includes dashboarding, surveys and forms, certifications, audits and assessments, planograms, document repository, knowledge base, Holler social chats, and more. Most recently, we added the capability to take advantage of all this functionality outside of the OPSCENTER UI via OPSEngine.
OPSEngine is our packaged set of GraphQL and REST APIs that provides retailers access to all the features on OPSCENTER. We do this with a seamless integration into the brands’ internal systems. This ensures that all information and data are connected and easily accessible, streamlining communication and task management among stores and employees. What’s more, the power is now in the hands of the retailer.
This innovation has allowed us to continue to be a leader in the task and communication space for more than 10 years and serve retailers around the world.
When it comes to optimizing retail communications and task management: what are some of the biggest lags you still see retailer side brands face? What best practices would you share?
Many retailers struggle to achieve increased productivity on both an individual level and a company-wide basis. This is due to their outdated employee management systems, like pen and paper – and yes, even fax machines.
A unified communications tool can streamline the different flows necessary for an organization. This makes employee training and onboarding a more efficient process, as well as provides overall ease in managing administrative tasks such as store scheduling. Additionally, making the move to modern technology allows for continuous, real-time updates to these processes.
How can brands use cloud-based communications to build better omnichannel experiences with more unity? A few tips that you’d leave newer teams with?
Utilizing streamlined communications solves the entire retail communications problem, not just pieces of it. When done successfully, the overall quality of interactions with employees and customers will drastically improve – no matter where those interactions happen. For example, with streamlined communications, retailers can ensure their curbside and BOPIS operations and distribution centers work in harmony to deliver a positive customer experience. This can be achieved with unified, two-way communications that allow for messaging and task management across teams and locations to ensure that orders are fulfilled effectively and efficiently. And should there be a customer issue that the customer is being provided the correct information for quick resolution.
For teams new to cloud-based communications, I’d advise clearly identifying (and tracking) what is working well, and what isn’t, with their current omnichannel processes. By truly understanding the current state of operations and then documenting what success will look like, in a future state, they can collaborate with their cloud-based communications vendors to optimize their system setups. Some successes we’ve seen are using a message center to ensure real-time compliance and accountability for customer care, in-store and distribution center teams. As well, we’ve seen success with utilizing a task manager that creates step-by-step actions for in-store event setup for the ultimate customer experience.
Some thoughts on the future of retail…and impact of technology SaaS in redefining this market?
During the pandemic, omnichannel shopping became a regular part of many consumers’ routines. As a result, the need for a robust omnichannel strategy was expedited, including streamlining curbside/BOPIS processes, as well as increased associate training as their roles began to shift toward customer service. I predict the demand for in-store associates to acquire new skills will only continue to increase as shoppers become more knowledgeable. With this, it has become imperative for retailers to find new ways of organizing internal systems for associate training.
What’s more, the retail industry is notorious for a high turnover rate. To ensure store associate retention, retailers must engage associates from day one during onboarding and continue to educate, train and certify them to grow within the organization. Unified communications are an important way to streamline task management for associates and can ensure that they are prepared for any tasks, such as launches, promotions or new product updates. As well from an HR and onboarding perspective, associates can rely on this technology as an information hub and a tool for their day-to-day activities.
What would you comment about the future of salestech as a segment?
I think the space has become hyper aggressive in finding new solutions which will serve the retailer well. New ideas are being innovated upon and options to bring them to life are becoming more widely available. The key is to be at the forefront of understanding the industry’s needs today and tomorrow and also being the first to market. At Opterus, we have always understood that you cannot rest and enjoy your success. We need to continually innovate and invest in our retail partners’ future successes.
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