SHOPLINE head of commercial operations, Vasko Ckorovski is in charge of leading the company’s go-to-market strategy in the region. As SHOPLINE doubles down on the market to serve the local retail community with a product it believes is unmatched in the industry, Ckorovski was excited to join the company last year and leverage this opportunity.

“I’ve always worked in the industry in various consultancy and in-house positions across technology, retail and e-commerce. I specialise in technical implementations and process analysis, helping retailers leverage integrated technologies to improve their business performance. I’ve worked with the likes of Temple & Webster, Hanes Brands, PetCulture VTEX, and Carma,” he told Retailbiz in a recent interview.

“There is a lot of competition but that’s a testament to the quality of the retail industry, and the businesses that make it so great. The local industry has had its challenges with the pandemic and ongoing economic pressures, but there are signs of optimism beginning to creep in.

“Our opportunity and our responsibility is to provide the platform local retailers need to overcome short-term volatility and grow sustainably over the long term. We do that for 600,000 retailers globally, and now we’re bringing that to Australian merchants.

“Whether it’s with our AI-powered tools to enhance customer experience, increase traffic and boost conversions for pureplay online retailers, or our unified tools to seamlessly connect online and in-store channels for omnichannel retailers. 

“For all the talk about technology, retail is about meaningful connections between retailers and their shoppers. If we can provide the technology and infrastructure behind the scenes, it frees them up to do what they do best – build relationships with their customers and turn that into loyalty.”

A large part of Ckorovski’s career has been spent on the merchant side and he sees that relatability as extremely important because he understands their pain points and opportunities.

“We’re able to better meet and exceed their needs with our support and our platform. It’s not built by technologists for retailers but rather by retailers for retailers. Understanding their needs, how to exceed them, and how to communicate with them, gives us an advantage,” he said.

“Because I have deep experience working inside a merchant, I was looking for a platform which can fulfil their requirements without having to spend extraordinary money on technical technology and implementations. SHOPLINE provides the functionality that retailers require out of the box, without having to go into great and expensive integrations with external services. Often, our biggest competition is inertia. Retailers don’t want to engage in long, costly technology implementations and onboardings, but through our platform, they don’t need to.”

SHOPLINE recently conducted research to understand how the industry is approaching 2024 and one of the most eye-opening takeaways was that while retailers acknowledge the importance of a unified commerce strategy, very few have actually adopted one.

“Two in three (65%) retailers recognise the importance of unified commerce, but only 31% of the market currently offers it. The barriers are varied depending on business size but the most common factors preventing retailers are a lack of flexibility within existing infrastructures, high costs and limited resources,” Ckorovski said.

“Our role is to help retailers overcome these barriers with flexible, scalable, intuitive and cost-effective technology. The retailers who offer unified commerce typically see higher conversions, improved customer retention and greater ROI. While we cannot eradicate the macroeconomic pressures, we can help ease the challenge they pose.”

While acknowledging ongoing headwinds, Ckorovski believes there are green roots of optimism appearing too with investment coming forward, companies turning short-term plans into more medium- and long-term plans, and VC funding starting to kick off again.

“Sentiment within the industry is picking up at the moment, and we’re seeing consumer spending starting to pick up as well. While we do have some headwinds, I think in the last quarter of 2024 and in 2025, we’ll see ecommerce and retail, consumer spending back open up again. This time next year, I think the picture could be a lot brighter.”