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: 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.
  • Posted on: 08/16/2017

    What bad habits do retail solution providers need to break?

    This is a great list. I would add: a "solution" is just a product, until it addresses an actual customer problem. The word solution is abused. Also, another mistake is not understanding your customer's customers.
  • Posted on: 08/15/2017

    Is Target ready to make a move on the home delivery front?

    This will provide Target with a proprietary crowdsourced delivery platform, which not only will bolster their last-mile efforts, but could also be used to improve existing ad hoc deliveries (e.g. transfers and other out of cycle shipments to store).
  • Posted on: 08/11/2017

    Is the future of fashion gender-free?

    This trend is know as "normcore," and almost can be considered flat design for fashion. I do believe that there are many factors influencing this, including technological, economic and social. In a world that is obsessed with the continual pursuit of the abstraction of complexity, why would fashion be immune?
  • Posted on: 07/13/2017

    How will the Supreme Court’s decision on Trump’s travel ban affect retailers?

    I too applaud those retailers that are taking a supportive stance for their employees, and effectively communicating that stance. I recently attended a retail consortium at HBS, a key point that came out of one of the studies presented was that one of the most customer loyalty engendering acts a retailer can take is to treat their associates well. I do hope that from a human resource perspective the travel ban will have a low and isolated impact on retail workers and their families. We all want better.I do think the travel ban will have an isolating impact on the US, which will impact tourism, thus retail sales from those visiting from abroad.
  • Posted on: 06/27/2017

    How will 3-D printing take hold at retail?

    I actually own a 3-D printer -- my daughter loves her homemade fidget spinners. There are a few things that need to change to make it more associate-friendly and less of an engineering effort. Specifically; 1.) the management of filament, which is the plastic that is melted in to form, needs to be as easy as changing batteries; 2.) the preparation and print of an item needs to be as easy as printing an MS Word document and 3.) the print time needs to be halved.Though individual prints are very inexpensive, given the cost of filament, until the aforementioned changes happen 3-D printing will remain a niche offering. I do believe that ultimately 3-D printing will have a tremendous impact on retail supply chain management, giving retailers the ability to avoid holding various parts and finished goods in inventory, the ability to further delay building finished goods and the ability to digitally deliver physical goods to consumers. As for the latter point, I am currently looking to do a couple of 3-D prints of a handbag for my wife and a pair of flexible sneakers. I will keep you posted.
  • Posted on: 06/19/2017

    Did Amazon just patent tech that could end showrooming in its stores?

    I would be shocked if Amazon implemented this tech as described. I do think they would implement the tech to monitor in-store web traffic to gain insights to make the overall shopping experience better. I would recommend other retailers do the same; many are still struggling to make sense of the data they have.
  • Posted on: 06/16/2017

    What happens now that Amazon is acquiring Whole Foods?

    This acquisition gives Amazon access. Access to products, industry talent and even more operational knowhow re: perishables management, which they have been building and would have to spend too much risky money to continue to scale in-house. This is a move to accelerate their grocery ambitions.From a brand promise perspective, Whole Foods aligns well with Amazon; I can envision Whole Foods’ prices getting the ax, which will be good for consumers and bolster traffic. It also fits Bezos’ acquisition thesis: 1.) Customers love it; 2.) It can scale; 3.) It has a healthy ROIC; and 4.) It's durable over time.Amazon Fresh is a sold service, which I believe will stay separate but be leveraged by this business. What does this mean for Instacart? These stores will likely get the Amazon Go treatment once they're ready for prime time.Also, regarding the argument that stores are not “dead” based on what Amazon just did; well, Amazon is not buying all retailers. The de-materializing impact of digital will continue to manifest itself as Amazon and the like and take more share. I don’t believe stores are 100 percent going away, but a material number of stores will disappear, thus having an impact akin to 100 percent closing for many workers, suppliers and other supporting vendors.
  • Posted on: 06/13/2017

    Can retailers escape the scourge of free shipping?

    Free shipping is here to stay and we will continue to see further demonetization in retail. Retailers with the right culture, regional scale and capital have the greatest chance to change their existing profit models to cost items out up to delivery to the door vs. to a shelf. This will require a complete reworking of manufacturing methods and supply chain management techniques.
  • Posted on: 06/08/2017

    What does it take for retailers to thrive amid shifting consumer preferences?

    Takeaway five "Act Early" has to be the most important point for retailers today. Historically, many retailers have taken pride in not being at the bleeding edge. Clearly, times have changed and now they need to be moving faster than ever. However, I also believe that the shift taking place is much deeper than the rather cyclical points raised in the article. Retailers need to be looking at a future context where there are a limited number of "browsers" that shoppers will use to navigate the commerce landscape.
  • Posted on: 06/01/2017

    Should Amazon buy Macy’s?

    I think acquiring Macy's operations, assets and culture would be a mistake for Amazon. Amazon's current model of strategically opening brick-and-mortar stores based on what's in the interest of the customer and supply chain management theory is the strategy they should continue. Amazon should maintain deliberate speed.

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