- Photobox Group - 05 May 2015

Getting to know Hein Pretorius – Our new Non-Executive Director

What attracts you to the Group?
I am a huge fan of curated and/or personalised eCommerce and I think the Group personifies that, not just in their business model but also in their core values. The group is entrepreneurial with very strong personal core values – who would not be attracted to that…?

How do you think eCommerce has changed in the past 5 years?
It has become much more personal. Consumers are more discerning than they were 5 years ago. We have moved past the “service trumps everything” phase and into a phase where consumers want more curated and personalised products & services. More choice and indeed control within that process. All of which is added value on top of very high expectations regarding trust and service.

What are you hoping to bring to the business?
I have been in the Internet industry for 21 years now and specifically eCommerce for 16 years. It is, apart from my beautiful family, one of my greatest passions in life, which I live and breath on a daily basis. I bring experience from building, acquiring and integrating eCommerce businesses on a global scale whilst remaining true to the local markets and cultures they serve. A deep understanding of strategic innovation combined with what it takes to execute on the front lines so to speak, with a passion for consumer centric eCommerce businesses.

What are your views on personalisation?
It is the way of the future and we have only really begun to scratch the surface. We are seeing personalisation coming into every part of eCommerce these days and the potential of this market remains immense.

If life is so ‘digital’ now – why do you think we still have a fondness for paper?
I don’t think it is purely a fondness for paper – it’s core human coding to want to see, touch and feel something which you have created. And for the recipient of this physical manifestation of your imagination the value lies in the loving thoughts, time and effort you have spent on the creation. The value in these items are priceless!

How do you make a business global while still providing a service that is very personal to your customers?
By scaling the platform and mechanics globally but executing locally through local natives in each territory who not only understand the cultural peculiarities but also have an innate understanding for the personalised needs of their customers. Using this understanding to execute, serve and delight locally is what will differentiate one from other global and local competitors.

What’s your favourite personalised item that you have purchased online?
It may sound a little silly but it is actually a baking apron I had personalised for my wife. Amongst her many talents and passions, she loves baking and especially messing around with recipes. Seeing her in that apron puts a very big smile on my face☺

What do you look for when it comes to global growth for an eCommerce business?
Entrepreneurial talent, who can think global but execute locally. A business that has attributes which can be replicated with local flavour and executed correctly, provides for strong and defensible market position.

What are your personal tips for global expansion?
Have a deep and clear understanding of your current core value proposition for your customers. That is your current secret to success. Understand the attributes, which your customers see as the core reason they do business with you. Clearly identify the markets globally which fit within your core value proposition and replicate the attributes with local flavour. Focus, stick to your knitting when you expand and above all, make sure you have the talent on board which most represents the core of who you are in the markets to which you are expanding.