Smart50 Awards 2016

11 Fluent Retail

Revenue

$2.7 million

Growth

291.9%

Founders

Mehdi Fassaie, 37, Julian Leach, 39, Mark Coulter, Conrad Yiu

Head office

Surrey Hills, NSW

Year founded

2013

Employees

46

Industry

Information and Communication Technology

Website

www.fluentretail.com

Mehdi Fassaie founder Fluent Retail standing

Mehdi Fassaie

The founders of cloud-based retail platform Fluent Retail believe there’s only one way to gain and keep a client’s trust – by staying genuine.

“Don’t over-promise, and focus on establishing a proven track record of successful delivery,” they say.

In its three years of operation, Fluent Retail has managed to enlist a string of big name clients, including Woolworths, Samsung, TopShop, and Metcash. Achieving this has not been easy, the four say, but the company’s unique focus on omnichannel solutions for customers is what sets it apart.

“We identified a gap in the Australian market to assist omnichannel retailers to provide unique experiences for customers across all channels. We understand that omnichannel retailers face significant challenges including organisational and platform change, maintaining profitability and speed-to-market,” the founders say.

Fluent retail has grown its revenue by 291.9% over the past three financial years, which has secured it 11th position on this year’s Smart50.

The business has adapted to stay afloat in the current “fast-paced, aggressive, and agile,” retail industry, all while keeping its original and most profitable client in mind. The team wanted to provide the best service to this client, but also expand its services to other clients.

To solve this dilemma, the founders created distinct teams to work on different aspects of the business, all the while being transparent about the changes to its customers.

“We were very transparent with our enterprise client and explained how they would benefit from new shared capabilities and make cost savings by shifting the nature of our relationship,” they say.

Fluent Retail hopes to focus more and more on customer service in online retail, with the team noting that “customer expectations have dramatically shifted when it comes to experience, options and service”.

However, they believe bricks-and-mortar retailers still hold the advantage when it comes to customer service, referring to the “ball and chain” of the store footprint as an advantage.

“Physical stores actually provide a competitive advantage as they have far greater control over the in-store customer experience,” the founders say.

Knowing this, the business hopes to expand into the US and UK markets in the coming years, establishing key global partnerships to further drive revenue growth. A number of UK customers are already using the Fluent Retail platform.

But while the future is bright for this growing retail services business, the founders are all too aware of the highs and lows that come from getting a venture off the group.

“Startups are like rollercoasters,” they told SmartCompany.

“Unless you’re completely committed and passionate about what you’re doing you won’t survive.”

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