Getting to Know Sarah Brown

Sarah Brown

Continuing the series introducing some of our staff, here are some insights into Sarah Brown who joined us in September 2012 as a graduate trainee in our Applications Support team:

Q. How did you get into the software industry?
A. I applied for a job at Cromwell straight from University. They were advertising for a junior project manager but the applications support role was also available and that’s what I accepted.

Q. What do you most enjoy about working here?
A. It’s never boring. There are always new subjects to master and I love getting to grips with them.

Q. What have been the biggest challenges at Cromwell?
A. Learning Open-Retail. It’s a massive system and I am very conscious how little of it I know. Retail, too, is a complex industry – there is far more to selling consumer goods than I ever imagined.

Q. If you weren’t in your current role what would you choose to do?
A. I’d be a Forensic Psychologist with the Police. They profile offenders and provide guidance on interviewing witnesses, amongst other areas. I did a combined English Language & Communication and Psychology degree and loved the Psychology side. I got a First in the Forensics module. However, I had to be realistic – there are so few jobs in that field and I had to broaden my search for employment.

Q. How would you describe yourself?
A. Outgoing and chatty are probably the two attributes that spring to mind first! I also enjoy a challenge and work hard at whatever I take on.

Q. Who, or what, makes you laugh?
A. I love live stand-up and have seen both Jimmy Carr and Alan Carr live. Jon Richardson from 8 out of 10 Cats is a favourite, too.

Q. Anything about yourself you’d like to change?
A. I can be impulsive and that’s got me into hot water on a few occasions.

Q. Favourite food and drink?
A. Indian food washed down with Archers and lemonade would hit the spot every time.

Q. Biggest regret?
A. Not taking a pure Psychology degree. I didn’t enjoy the English side at all, and doing the combined honours made it very unlikely I could get into Forensic Psychology after I graduated.

Q. If you ruled the world for a day what would you do?
A. Stop all war and conflict. Then everyone might realise global peace is a great idea.

Q. What’s your pet hate?
A. Other people snoring! It’s a small thing, but so, so horrible to listen to.

Q. What’s your greatest achievement to date?
A. Getting my degree.

Q. Who has had the biggest influence on your life?
A. My Dad. He brought up me and my two older brothers from when I was just ten, holding down a full-time job as well. He’s a wonderful role model.

Q. Who or what would you consign to Room 101?
A. The Go Compare ad campaign. Everything about it sets my teeth on edge.

Q. All-time favourite TV programme?
A. Eastenders. It’s pure escapism, full of drama, and makes me count my blessings because every character in it has such a horrible life.

Q. What’s your favourite piece of kit?
A. My Samsung Galaxy S2.

Q. Where do you see yourself in 5 years’ time?
A. Hopefully at Cromwell, but wherever I am I hope to have a settled career in which I can make a real difference.

Q. Surfing or Safari?
A. Safari – it would be a dream to go on one. I’m not a great one for the sea, so surfing doesn’t appeal at all.

Q. What surprises you?
A. Usually one of my older brothers. One of them once hid in my wardrobe for an hour just so he could jump out and scare me witless. It’s a miracle I don’t have a wardrobe phobia.

Q. Do you have any hidden talents?
A. I play badminton, though I couldn’t say I have a great talent for it. I’m double-jointed, so could maybe try being an escapologist if all else fails.

Q. If you were stranded on a desert island who would you most want to land on the beach?
A. Adam Levine, the front man of Maroon 5. He’s not just a musical talent – he’s also campaigned for all sorts of causes such as LGBT rights, ADHD and cancer and I really admire that he’s using his influence for good. Fingers crossed, I’m seeing them play next year.

Hughes employee is ERT winner

Peter Harvey, a Norwich-based employee of Cromwell customer Hughes Electrical, has won Salesperson of the Year – Independents in the ERT Award sponsored by Samsung. All the Award winners were announced on October 22nd at a lunchtime ceremony at the Grand Connaught Rooms, Covent Garden.

e-gift cards launched by Comet

Comet, in collaboration with digital gifting and incentives company CashStar, has introduced e-gift card programme to enable customers to create personalised digital gifts and send them via mobile devices, e-mail or Facebook.

David Stone, CEO of CashStar, said: “Consumers’ lives have gone digital and mobile and so have their gift cards… The Christmas period is critical and profit margins have been tighter than ever for the retail industry. CashStar is launching its innovative e-gift technology in the UK just in time for retailers to get up and running before the busiest months of the year. Comet is the first of many retailers in the UK that will offer the benefits of e-gift cards to consumers.”

Websites breach Distance Selling Regulations

The Office of Fair Trading has called on retailers to fully comply with consumer protection law on their websites. A study revealed potential breaches of the Distance Selling Regulations and other consumer protection laws. Many websites providing information on cancellation appear to impose unreasonable restrictions on customers’ rights to a refund (e.g. the rule requiring products to be in the original packaging or in the original condition). A large percentage of retail websites provide a web contact form rather than an email contact address, as required by the E-Commerce Regulations, and an admittedly tiny minority provide no electronic contact details at all.

The OFT said traders that do not make amendments to comply with the law risk formal enforcement action from the OFT or Local Trading Standards Services.For guidance see the OFT Distance Selling Hub and the YouTube video, ‘Buying online: know your consumer rights’.

Tec7 to close in House of Fraser

Despite selling top-notch brands including Apple, Bose and Sony in “contemporary surroundings”, department store chain House of Fraser is to close all its Tec7 electrical departments by the end of January 2013 because the struggling economy and aggressive price promotions have made them unprofitable.

Join the Christmas Shopping Crawls initiative

Over 100 towns have shown interest in organising “Christmas Shopping Crawls” to boost retail footfall in independent stores after a “How to create a Christmas Shopping Crawl” webinar run by The Association of Town Centre Management. The Independent Christmas campaign runs from 12th November to Christmas Day. Retailers can access a range of support materials including window posters and maps. Towns can also access downloadable guides “How to create a Christmas shopping crawl” and “How to make the most of participating in a Christmas shopping crawl”. See www.indiechristmas.co.uk or e-mail champion@retailchampion.co.uk.

Dixons closes Dixons.co.uk

Dixons is to close its online-only business Dixons.co.uk to concentrate on multi-channel and in-store presence. Kate Bickerstaffe, UK and Ireland chief executive for Dixons Retail, said: “We don’t see a place for Dixons.co.uk where we have Currys.co.uk and PCWorld.co.uk. We have done fantastic amounts of work to make sure we have fantastic pricing. I’m confident that’s the right thing to do… We want customers to have a seamless, multi-channel experience that’s device agnostic, whether they’re at home, in-store or on the move.”

Hughes expands Newmarket store

Cromwell customer Hughes Electrical, confident of market growth, has undertaken a 500sq ft expansion of its store in Newmarket. The re-vamp includes a Rangemaster Design Centre and a hands-on display of laptops, tablets and digital imaging equipment. The closure of Currys in Newmarket has given the store a very welcome boost.

Retailers need more “social” sites

Research from MPG Media Contacts and Lightspeed Research reveals that consumers use social media as inspiration when shopping online but are reluctant to use links from social sites to buy. 90% of the online population have bought online in the past six months, but 75% have never followed a link from Facebook to buy a product. The challenge is for retailers to make their websites more “social” to increase sales. Ralph Risk, Marketing Director of Lightspeed Research, said: “While our research shows that social commerce may not yet be delivering for many brands in terms of purchases, the importance of social influence cannot be dismissed. Shoppers are influenced by various media and having a joined up strategy, while ensuring there is an easy path to purchase, whether social, mobile, online or in-store, is the best way to meet customer expectations.”

Sales up in September

Figures released by the British Retail Consortium and KPMG show that like-for-like sales grew by 1.5% in September compared to growth of 2.5% in the same month last year. On a total basis, sales were up 3.4%, against a 2.5% rise in September 2011. Highest sales growth was for clothing and footwear (due to colder weather), and the home and furniture market.