Below is our recent interview with Toronto executive John Fielding. Fielding is a businessman and entrepreneur who in 1981 founded Array Marketing, an award-winning retail merchandising company with a number of high-profile clients including Estee Lauder, Chanel, Sephora, Ulta and many more.
Q: Where did the idea for Array Marketing originate?
John Fielding: Array Marketing was started by my brother Bill and I after deciding we wanted to create something of our own. We were young entrepreneurs with big dreams and determination. We started our business small, focusing on advertising specialties in Scarborough, Ontario where we promoted small items ranging from coffee mugs to key chains. From there, the business began to grow at an exponential pace and before we knew it, we had broken into the manufacturing of merchandising and display systems. That’s the origin of Array Marketing.
Q: How has technology changed the retail marketing industry?
John Fielding: Well, first of all I think that customers are more informed than ever. They become interested in a product and now all they have to do to research it is go online. There they have access to product information, prices, sales and so on. Throughout history, consumers have been influenced by changes in technology and it has shaped the way they interact with and buy products. New technologies bring easier access to products and easier marketing rom brands.
Q: How will retail companies have to adapt to rapidly changing technologies to stay with the times?
John Fielding: We have never seen changes move so rapidly as we have in say, the last few decades. Retail companies who are inflexible will be left scrambling to keep up with the competition because consumers will look elsewhere, and quickly, for comparable products. With things like automated shopping and subscription boxes, shoppers want instant gratification. If retailers and ecommerce don’t adapt, they will not be able to survive in this new world driven by technology.
Q: While technology has certainly improved the retail industry, how do you remain focused on and instill traditional values as a leader?
John Fielding: I try to stay grounded and remind myself and my team that it’s still important to have human connection. With so much going on in today’s world, it’s easy to hide behind a website and let your interface do all the work. But that’s not necessarily a good thing. You need human connection. A leader also needs to be visible to his or her team and make them feel good about the work they’re doing.
Q: What would your advice be to an entrepreneur who might be afraid to start a business for fear of failing?
John Fielding: Starting a business can seem overwhelming, especially if you expect to make it big overnight. My advice would be to start small. Focus on one area and then when it becomes successful, grow it from there. Also, don’t forget the importance of sheer persistence. In other words, don’t give up. Keep in mind that failure isn’t always the final word. Some of the world’s most successful entrepreneurs have failed in the beginning, but that just means they learned something along the way.