Editor’s note: Two days before my interview with Michael Moore, his company, A Wireless, officially changed its name to Victra. The largest authorized Verizon retailer in the U.S., Victra operates approximately 1,150 stores in 46 states.
Prior to joining Victra one year ago, Michael Moore spent 29 years in the CPG/grocery retail segment, first with Procter & Gamble, then Supervalu and Lowes Foods. In this exclusive Q&A, Moore talks about new initiatives at Victra, with a focus on company culture and technology innovation. He also offers guidance for up-and-coming business executives.
Retail TouchPoints (RTP): What prompted you to make the move to A Wireless (now Victra) after so long in the food/grocery segment?
Michael Moore: I was interested in a new opportunity and this one looked to be very exciting and different. As you think about mobile technology and the continued evolution of wireless networks, it seemed like a dynamic place to be. It has given me the opportunity to do some cool things.
RTP: What experiences in the grocery/CPG segment have helped you in your new role?
Moore: I helped Lowes Foods rebrand and appreciate the hard work involved in that process as well as the importance of company culture. A brand change has tremendous implications on the culture and the way forward for a business. Also, what’s interesting about grocery retail is that it often gets commoditized. It’s very similar in my new position. Competitors try to claim the same reliability and performance as Verizon and they also try to leverage price as a competitive strategy. That is very similar to where I came from. One other thing I’ve been able to bring to my new position is my expertise in category management.
RTP: What are some of the key initiatives you’re currently working on at Victra?
Moore: I own Marketing, CRM, Merchandising and Supply Chain, which are all tied to creating demand and a great store experience. Right now, we are launching a new e-Commerce effort with new platform capabilities to help drive clicks to bricks. I also am working to standardize our approach to merchandising and supply chain management. We have 1,150 stores and they are all ‘snowflakes’ — store interiors, merchandising and assortments are all different, since many of them came to the company through recent acquisitions.
RTP: How does employee engagement and training define success for Victra?
Moore: We have just completed a tremendous effort focused on training for all store managers. We are working to make sure they all are operating on the ‘same sheet of music.’ It will help to get everyone level set. We also have completed nine months of working a detailed process to unite the company under one common vision, brand and culture, and we used this opportunity to tap into the organization and understand our employees’ viewpoints on the business and the culture. Through surveys, focus groups and cross-functional teams, we have been able to define a new brand platform, including principles, purpose and core values.
We know that our largest employee group — Millennials — will leave a company if they don’t feel like the organization has a clear purpose. In our next phase we are initiating a series of well-thought-out training investments that will continue building off the new brand and make sure the culture is vibrant.
We are working very hard on employee retention. It is one of the key areas we’ve identified as important along with our rebranding. We are looking at things we might be missing in terms of culture, compensation and benefits.
RTP: Is your commitment to employees reflected in the company mission?
Moore: Absolutely. Our new mission statement is: “Connecting Technology To Life In the Most Trustworthy, Fun, And Profitable Way.” And our company purpose is: “Empowering Better Living.” With that in mind, we are focused on three key audiences: Employees, our Guests, and the Communities we serve. As an independently owned Verizon authorized retailer, we are focused on supporting the local community and causes. In one recent example, in southeast Texas, our stores offered our device drying and restoration service (Redux) free to the local community after Hurricane Harvey. We’re in the early stages of building out our effort to help all our stores build local connections with authenticity.
RTP: What other initiatives are you currently working on to differentiate your brand from the competition?
Moore: We are supporting new store interiors, in terms of how the brand gets represented with fixturing and merchandising. We recently partnered with Verizon to test a new fixture approach in our new metro New York stores.
Also, endless aisle is a very interesting area. With all the accessories available today, we have to balance inventory investment in a small box format. This is a key initiative we have been exploring.
Bringing digital content and commerce together is also is a big focus for us, supported by thoughtfully considered CRM. We need to be sure we are developing a true omnichannel business model.
Finally, we’re doing some interesting testing in terms of beacon technology; and we’re looking at what is relevant vs. intrusive.
RTP: Is AR, VR and IoT in your current or future plans?
Moore: We are in a fun space because connected devices and IoT is going to explode. That opens up tons of interesting opportunities for us. There will be a day, in the not-too-distant future, when you will be able to download full seasons of your favorite TV shows or a catalogue of movies instantaneously. The speed, reliability and network performance will have a significant impact on the success of those opportunities.
RTP: What advice do you have for younger people working to advance in the retail business?
Moore: I have three pieces of advice:
1. Remember that your professional growth and development starts with you and your proactive commitment. Don’t wait for somebody to hand you the answers. You have to work smart and strive for success.
2. Don’t become enamored with just getting promoted and moving up fast in an organization. Focus on getting a breadth of experiences. Lateral moves can be more important than being promoted, so that one day, when you are in a leadership position you want to be able to draw from your past experiences.
3. No matter where you are in retail, realize it is always a people business. It’s all about the guest and customer-centricity. It’s not just about the product or the price. Also, help co-workers be successful. Never let anyone fail.
RTP: Do you have any mentors you’ve worked with along the way?
Moore: Yes. First, Tom O’Brien from P&G. He was the Chief Customer Officer for the U.S. He was a phenomenal leader in terms of placing tremendous balance on building the organization and the business in equal measure. He made sure people came first. He was a great teacher, innovator and thinker.
Also, Tim Lowe from Lowe’s Foods and Kevin Holt (now with Ahold Delhaize). Tim is a consummate merchant, great leader with high integrity; and I hold Kevin in high regard in terms of retail expertise. He is doing a great job at Ahold Delhaize.