Shawn Harris

Global Innovation Strategy Lead, Zebra Technologies
Shawn is Global Innovation Strategy Lead for Zebra. Shawn leads innovation strategy for Zebra, with a specific focus on Zebra's Top 4 global customers across retail and T&L. Shawn helps to navigate the ever changing retail and T&L landscape, providing thought leadership, pragmatic insights, and innovative human-centered solutions for issues pertaining to customer experience, and staff productivity.

Shawn's passion rests in brick-and-mortar and digital retail technology experiences, operations, and supply chain management . Shawn has been involved with store systems, ecommerce, and order management technologies for over 15 years, having held management positions in, or consulted to, numerous Tier-1 retailers including, TJX Cos, Staples, and Uniqlo (Fast Retailing). Shawn also founded a luxury menswear brand, ECC Life&Style, which most was known for designing and making clothing for some of New England’s most regarded corporate executives and professional athletes across the country. Shawn keeps a keen eye on what’s potentially next, by staying closely involved in the Boston, New York, and Silicon Valley startup communities. Shawn recently served as the program lead for the Startup Leadership Program, and has participated in startup programs through Techstars, New York Fashion Tech Lab, MassChallenge, and New York Fashion Tech Lab.

For 8 years Shawn honorably served in the Army National Guard as an infantryman and armored personnel carrier (APC) driver. Shawn has a passion for culture and language. He speaks conversational Japanese, and has traveled extensively through Europe, Africa, and Asia for business. Shawn earned his MBA from Babson College, and a bachelor's degree in management information systems from the University of Massachusetts.

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  • Posted on: 12/14/2017

    Will chatbots replace customer service reps?

    Undoubtedly, chatbots both text and voice-rendered will replace a large majority of customer service representatives. This is true given the specificity of the use case and advancements in artificial intelligence with respect to semantic and sentiment understanding within natural language processing, highly accurate translation services and text-to-speech models that sound more and more human.Personally, I prefer chatting with customer service, and I'm not sure if it's a human or bot on the other end given the generic responses often received. Are chatbots now passing the Turing Test? Have we arrived?
  • Posted on: 11/30/2017

    It’s good to be Home Depot

    Here are a few things I think Home Depot has done well: They have curtailed opening new stores and instead have leveraged the existing ones in a rethought supply chain management model building a very flexible network. They have focused on delivering a great experience for both the pro and the DIYer, with a particular focus on the former. Lastly, they have accepted the economics of online vs. offline, and have worked to optimize them individually rather than trying to get online's economics to fit within offline's.
  • Posted on: 11/27/2017

    How would the end of net neutrality impact retail?

    A repeal of net neutrality would lead to "tolls" on the Internet, which will find their way to the consumer's pocket. It is management's role to maximize value for shareholders, and due to personal incentives they often have only a near-term view. Undoubtedly, ISPs will want to tap into the revenue streams of Amazon, Facebook, Google, Reddit, Netflix, Airbnb, Spotify, et al.In the pursuit of value, ISPs could establish comparable services for free. However, if a consumer wishes to access competitive sites and services an ISP could charge consumers similarly to how they charge for content today (e.g. "online shopping fee" or "social media fee" or "music streaming fee"), block services, or otherwise degrade the experience. ISPs could selectively charge service providers to gain access to customers as well.If repealed, I think this will also lead to great competition for the ISPs as certainly the larger Internet companies will start to move more aggressively into the space. Facebook and Google already have land-based and air-based Internet service offerings.
  • Posted on: 11/13/2017

    Lowe’s and Macy’s join rivals chasing smart home opportunity

    Lowe's move makes sense; I'd argue they are missing a piece by not injecting themselves in to the data play. Macy's move feels very tactical, but these are the sorts of things firms do when frantically seeking value. Macy's should launch a program where shoppers pay a subscription fee to walk in to any store, grab an outfit and go -- call it "Macy's My Closet." Get bodies in the door, a reoccurring revenue stream, and it's more in alignment. It would be a way to collect data for increased personalization of product and pricing. Gaining advantage through strategic data is key today, not just the transaction.
  • Posted on: 11/13/2017

    Retailers need supply chain urgency – now

    I have been spending a lot of time going deep on supply chain management via MIT's SCM micromasters program. I get it, it's hard. However, I think retailers need to rethink level of service to meet today's supply chain management challenges, and then address the upstream constraints.Level of service (LOS) is typically determined by a supply node's proximity to demand; that being customers, stores or other third-parties. Given the numerous fulfillment choices customers have/want today, retailers should not look to build a network which seeks to satisfy all of the possibilities on their own. Retailers should look to co-op networks and forge deeper relationships with transportation and logistics firms, up to and including Amazon.Think about how you can extract out complexity in your network and bring in outside perspective to help. Not only could you find new ways of delivering unexpected LOS, but you also could realize new competitive advantage and/or new market opportunities. Focusing on LOS focuses you on the customer.
  • Posted on: 11/08/2017

    Big Data is done, put a fork in it

    The idea of "Big Data" stumbled because it was too much data for us humans to make sense of. That ushered in "Small Data;" more useable chunks of data that a data scientist could use to model with.I think the recent advancements in machine learning now allow us to go back to making sense of "Big Data," or lots of data. I'm not sure retailers are at the point of needing to understand the limitations of data science, as I think they still have not yet grasped the potential. Marketers should be clear on the business problem they are trying to solve for, then enlist data science to determine the right data to model in order to draw out insights.
  • Posted on: 11/08/2017

    As Amazon looms, CVS rolls out next-day Rx deliveries nationwide

    This is the right move by CVS. However, there will be many aspects to closely monitor, such as impacts to in-store rub-off revenue and margin drain from increased labor usage to deliver this service, balancing productivity, safety and customer service. I can see delivery drivers being held up by customers who appreciate the visit, in addition to their delivery, and just want to talk. My sister is a pharmacist, I hear about it all of the time. Again, it's the right move by CVS.
  • Posted on: 11/03/2017

    Was Amazon scamming or searching for its HQ2 location?

    I think that the number one consideration will be talent. I may be biased, but I can't imagine HQ2 being anywhere outside of the Metro Boston area. There's Harvard, MIT, Wayfair, Shoebuy, etc. and more foundational/enabling technology companies than you can imagine. I do think they would have a negative impact on the talent available to the Boston startup community in the near-term to medium-term, and generally drive up the cost of talent for most Boston-based firms, no matter the industry. I'm OK with the approach. Many companies operate similar bid processes; Amazon just gets a lot more attention given their dominance.
  • Posted on: 10/25/2017

    Amazon to begin making in-home deliveries in 37 cities

    I stick by my comment on RetailWire's 10/3/16 piece: "Will customers give Amazon the keys to their smart homes?"Comment from 10/3/16:"I completely believe that this is a concept that could see wide adoption. Airbnb has helped in resetting the idea of what personal space means and blockchain technology will allow for secure, immutable, one-time access to home IoT locks. Delivery person tracking and home tracking (cameras, mobile device and presence sensors) will play an over-the-top role for auditing behavior. Insurance will cover the rest."
  • Posted on: 10/24/2017

    Target has a plan to end the Christmas sales madness

    Keeping promotions simple, and prices more than competitive, will certainly help. However, given the shop-the-list based approach to buying that most consumers have adopted, it will be imperative that the items you say you have, and the items I expect you to have, remain stocked.
  • Posted on: 10/10/2017

    Walmart seeks online edge with 35-second returns

    This makes complete sense. All shoppers want is for retail to get out of their way. Return policy is the third consideration behind price and fulfillment options. However all three are equally critical to conversion. Walmart's continued focus on convenience, assortment and price is a winning strategy.
  • Posted on: 10/09/2017

    What does all the noise around Amazon’s ‘Seller Flex’ program mean?

    Seller Flex will allow Amazon to maintain the level of service with its customers during demand spikes, sharing the load across UPS, FedEx and USPS. It will also allow them to get more embedded into the operations of sellers who are not using Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA), meaning more data. If they were to scale the Seller Flex program, assuming the role of delivering all of their packages, and were to maintain the same operating expenses as say UPS or FedEx, it could mean the addition of roughly $1 billion to their bottom line (though there are many assumptions there).The cost to maintain their delivery level of service is material to their bottom line, and the more successful they are the more expensive delivery is. That's why this program makes a lot of sense for them. Also undoubtedly you would expect them to leverage their assets to their fullest capacity, so expansion into full T&L service offerings seems inevitable.
  • Posted on: 09/29/2017 is stepping out of Walmart’s shadow

    The autonomy in operation and further distinguishing the brand from Walmart are smart steps. There was some blow-back from ModCloth and Bonobos customers after the acquisitions, as shoppers of those brands didn't want to be associated with buying from Walmart for a variety of reasons. Also, rule #1 of disruptive strategy is you cannot disrupt yourself -- that is, at least from within an organization's existing confines. Allowing to operate outside of Walmart gives them the creative breathing space they will need, while still getting fuel and air-cover from what is the world's largest retailer.
  • Posted on: 09/05/2017

    Will burger and fitness partnerships reinforce Hy-Vee’s mission?

    I am fortunate to spend time with Hy-Vee, and they get it. I often joke with them that they are an East Coast metropolitan grocer, just located in the Midwest. I believe these partnerships make sense, creating differentiation and thus competitive advantage. For Hy-Vee, creating an immersive one-stop shopping experience centered on high-grade service is their winning strategy. They already have a nutritional supplements partnership with Mark Wahlberg, which I am sure made establishing the Wahlburgers relationship that much easier, and at the same same time complements the Orangetheory partnership.If you ever get a chance, you should visit the Hy-Vee in downtown Des Moines. It has a grocery store with exhaustive prepared foods, wine and spirits, a bank, dry cleaning, a high-end restaurant, urgent care, a pharmacy and, wait for it -- apartments above the store; all owned and operated by Hy-Vee. This store is a lifestyle.
  • Posted on: 08/21/2017

    Why are Target’s small stores much more productive than its big boxes?

    The increase in productivity is most likely due to focused localized merchandising, convenient locations, improved shopability of the stores and reduced staffing requirements. Target will likely use location + return on invested capital (ROIC) to determine the right format.

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