In celebration of Women's History Month, we're running a "Meet the Women Leading Retail" mini-series. As a female-founded and led company, we're proud to be spotlighting the achievements of women in the sector. On our social media this week, we're recognising some of the female CEOs digitally transforming retail, successfully steering their brands through the pandemic. Alongside this, we're also keen to celebrate some of the women making an impact here at Mercaux.
For our first internal spotlight, we're excited to introduce you to Cristina Afonso, who leads our Customer Success Team. Cristina joined our London office in 2019. Since then, she's been supporting our clients on every step of their journey with Mercaux (and in her spare time, she's been supporting us too, with a delicious array of baked cakes!)
To celebrate this year's Women's History Month, we sat down with Cristina to ask her a bit more about herself and her time at Mercaux. Read on to find out why ....
Her passion for (buying) shoes brought her to retail as a customer, while not finding the right size made her want to work in retail technology.
1) What made you choose to work for Mercaux?
Cristina: I worked in the tech industry with a focus on e-commerce for a few years and loved it. It was such an exciting environment and everyone was so passionate about delivering great results for online businesses. It was also at that time that I noticed that there wasn’t anywhere near as much effort being directed into bricks and mortar retail. When it came to improving shopping experiences with tech, physical retail was lagging. As an avid shopper myself, every time I read an article about another retailer closing down stores and people losing their jobs, it gnawed at me. I started looking for roles where I could put my experience to use and to turn the trend around. When I was contacted by Mercaux and discovered their product and their mission, joining the team was an easy decision. I was so impressed by how simple and quick the integration was and the amazing set of tools Mercaux provides to enable in-store shopping experiences that delight customers. And that then translates to boosting sales and staff efficiency. It’s really impressive how much can be accomplished with these tools.
2) What do retailers need to do to survive in the future?
Survival is about adapting to one’s environment and making the best of the circumstances. There is much that can be done in retail to adapt and many retailers are already making some smart decisions in that sense. Click and collect is a great example of how the marriage of digital and physical retail can be a happy one, and it’s great to see so many retailers adapting (although not fast enough).
But I would argue that as a business, the goal to simply survive lacks ambition and will translate to results that are a reflection of that. Thriving should be the ultimate goal and that means becoming the builder of the new realities that others must adapt to. Early adaptors and innovators look ahead to what the future may bring and respond to that need that isn’t even there yet. I believe that platforms such as Mercaux are a key pillar to building that futuristic retail experience that will thrive, because we understand that in a world of people that are tethered to their devices, trends are changing and people are eager for more genuine interactions that are supported by technology and not replaced by it.
3) What do you like to get up to in your spare time?
Cristina: I’m a proud bookworm and have even written a novel (not a very good one, admittedly. It’s still unpublished). I’m a decent baker. A better baker than a writer, I think. The coconut and raspberry cake is a favourite in the office. And I spend a lot of time shopping for shoes. My collection is growing fast.
4) Can you tell us something unexpected about yourself?
Cristina: There are probably a lot of facts about me that would fall under the “something unexpected” category, so I’ll share one of my favourites: I was named after a smuggler that brought food across the Portugal-Spain border during the dictatorship in Portugal in the 60s. She saved my mum’s life as a child so I am named after a modern day Robin Hood.
Cristina has worked in technology for almost 13 years. Spending almost a decade as a Project and Program Manager at Microsoft showed her the absolute importance of making tech a core pillar for success in any business. This time also inspired Cristina to become a Customer Success Manager to help create a bridge between business and tech organisations. Her passion for (buying) shoes brought her to retail as a customer, while not finding the right size made her want to work in retail technology.