The company has been up for at least a few weeks now, but was formally announced today.
Q Division is described as a team of business management consultants, connected commerce-focused industry experts and solution engineers who advise brands and retailers on creating data-driven, best-in-class customer experiences. Almagro is the managing partner.
The new entity, says a press release, will leverage key assets from the STRATACACHE family of digital media/ad tech companies as an independent retail tech, connected commerce and retail strategy practice. “We’re beyond the ‘why digital?’ conversation,” says Almagro. “It’s not a trade secret that the physical retail world needs digital solutions to thrive. Shoppers expect modern conveniences — especially what they find online — to exist in some form within the retail store. The big secret is the expertise required to make these customer experiences effective, scalable and return a significant ROI. The low- and no-value providers entering the space muddy the waters for retailers ready to introduce or expand digital experiences.”
Q Division’s services include:
- Innovation Programs: partner agencies, brands and retailers who subscribe to Q Division’s emerging tech research initiatives, participate in fast-track test/learn prototype labs, and opportunities for live, in-market field testing
- Connected Commerce: engineering meaningful, connected experiences by leveraging IoT based, retail tech platforms; AI, machine learning, machine vision, robots, conversational commerce, e-commerce, and in-store interactions
- Data + Analytics: use of real-time and periodic data collection platforms across online, mobile and in-store environments to drive and improve upon the delivered customer experience, provided by consumer persona building and behavioral insights
- Emerging Tech Ventures: in partnership with STRATACACHE Capital, access and exposure to investors, global solution partners and emerging retail tech startups Manolo’s industry reputation and global experience will help quickly build the new consulting practice.
Almagro has been around for ages and is a named inventor on an early digital signage software patent (#6038545). He most recently worked for TPN, a retail agency with giant clients like Bank of America. In his new gig, he’s already been traveling around like mad and will do so in the New Year, with speaking or guide gigs at NRF, DSE and the Mobile World Congress.
Q Division’s name pays homage to the fictional intelligence lab dedicated to developing tools and weapons to gain every advantage possible in battle. “In this case, Q Division is arming retailers in the fight for shoppers’ attention and loyalty,” says Almagro.
“Retail is not a fair fight today. Even the above average retailer is in an existential battle with Amazon and struggling to navigate the new, deep-data world in which we live,” says Dirk Huelsermann, managing partner of STRATACACHE Capital and digital media investment expert. “Q Division will help retailers and brands arm themselves with the knowledge and strategy necessary to win these battles. Manolo and his team bring exceptional experience in retail engagement and innovative strategy insight that can be the catalyst to help level the playing field.”
Interesting move. STRATACACHE CEO Chris Riegel is steadily evolving a vertically integrated company that can do pretty much everything in-house, or within the family of companies, for any retailer or other corporate client. There are some very good, digitally-savvy independent consultants out there who focus on retail, like Laura Davis-Taylor. But an entity like Q Division allows Riegel and his team to embed smart people into the front-end of an opportunity and nurture it along, without worry that the third-party consultant might steer the client to a different vendor or, more practically, ensure the client has its act together and knows what it wants to do.
Customers with solid, confident plans and objectives tend to to cut bigger POs, and do that faster, than clients who’re just not sure what they might see out of an initiative, other than “innovation.”