Getting to know Derek O’Carroll: Q&A with Brightpearl’s new CEO

Derek O’Carroll and Brightpearl team


There’s exciting things happening at the Brightpearl headquarters as we recently announced some big news… our new CEO, Derek O’Carroll, has joined the team! And here’s your first chance to get to know him a little better as we asked Derek to share his views on topical areas in the retail and wholesale industry.

With over ten years of experience in numerous leadership positions with Symantec and an entrepreneurial background, we wanted to find out Derek’s personal views on the things that matter to you. We grilled our new CEO on the top challenges for online merchants, his view on online marketplaces and how he feels about the upcoming holiday season.


Q&A with Derek

What attracted you to Brightpearl?

Online trade is growing at over 30% per annum. Retailers with great products are in pole position to participate in this growth provided they can maintain the levels of customer service today’s shoppers have come to expect. Retailers who “punch above their weight” and delight their customers have taken the time to invest and automate their processes so they can source, store, sell, ship and manage their accounts efficiently. Brightpearl is the only retail management platform in the market that does all this within a single solution, and over 7 years of domain experience. The cloud platform coupled with the team’s retail experience provide all the ingredients for hyper growth potential.


What are the top challenges you see facing online merchants today?

  1. Once a great product or service is tested positively – the first challenge retailers face is finding out what are the best practices for them to adopt in order to scale in each function of their business. Gaining the knowledge is the first challenge, followed by understanding the desired state for key processes such as; procurement, warehousing, selling on multiple channels, processing returns, multi-currency, and understanding profitability. These are all key areas a business needs to really understand if they are to grow and/or raise finance.
  2. Figuring out what’s the right technology stack for their business and ensuring they select the right solution that requires the least amount of customisation. If a small business whose domain expertise is niche, the last thing they should be doing is hiring an independent developer and having custom code built to run their business. If the developer leaves or the code breaks during periods of high orders – there’s no one to call.
  3. Having the time to spend on activities to grow the top line business. Using real-time business performance data to conduct efficient procurement, online advertising, customer communications, and merchandising strategies which are tailored for each channel are the priorities high growth merchants want to focus on. There’s not enough hours in the day for most teams to focus on these key activities, especially if they don’t have a service such as Brightpearl to automate the processes which run the business on a daily basis.


Are marketplaces like eBay and Amazon friends or foes for merchants?

It really depends on the type of business and their target customer profile. Amazon is a fantastic channel for companies who are extremely efficient in terms of managing their pricing and distribution strategies. For those companies who are not prepared, Amazon can quickly destroy a price point. eBay has similar characteristics but tends to ‘cheapen’ brands if used all the time. It can be very useful to run flash sales to clear stock.


What are the key chores that Brightpearl sees merchants doing themselves that could be better outsourced, why, and how do they justify the expense?

If you visualise the journey of a product in its lifecycle you will see a plethora of processes that need to be conducted for the movement of money and product to be successful. Today these processes are conducted by multiple technologies using different formats. This means retailers spend a huge amount of time trying to reconcile and understand the current state of an order or their finances at any given time. Merchants who deploy Brightpearl grow 30% faster than other companies, and save two months per year doing manual work. Saving this time means they can focus on the ‘job of work’ to deliver higher growth for their business.


As you look towards the upcoming holiday shopping season, are you optimistic or pessimistic?

It’s our opportunity to shine. I’m optimistic our independent merchants will have an even bigger and better holiday season this year. We saw an increase in online sales more so than offline last year and we expect that trend to continue in 2016.

One of the key reasons I joined Brightpearl was Andrew Porter, CIO, who joined mid 2014 from Deutsche Bank. Andrew was instrumental in building the financial processing systems of two global investment banks, these global trading platforms process massive amounts of financial orders every second. He has done a huge amount of work to ensure the Brightpearl platform is scalable and reliable for small and mid-size merchants.

Financial systems reliably process billions of transactions a day, if they don’t it’s on the national news. The ecommerce industry cannot yet claim the same levels of service. Over the past few years there have been numerous examples of large retailers collapsing during peak times like Black Friday. In 2015, as five times the average number of shoppers went online to snap up Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals; John Lewis, Argos, Boots and experienced disruptions to service.

Last year during the holiday season Brightpearl customers processed over 14,000 orders per hour, and shipped 4.5 million items worldwide, without any service disruption. Our customers rely on us to deliver this degree of performance.


That’s all from Derek for now, you’ll be hearing a lot more from him in the coming months!