Shawn Harris

N.A. Retail & Hospitality Industry Lead, Zebra Technologies
Shawn is N.A. Retail & Hospitality Industry lead for Zebra. Shawn helps Zebra’s customers and retail & hospitality sales teams navigate the ever changing retail 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, operations, and experiences. 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: 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.
  • Posted on: 06/01/2017

    Retail mash-up: What if Macy’s and Disney had a baby?

    I've often considered this as well, thinking about how Disney (or ex-Disney creative executive) could help drive immersive experiences and new management ideology at Toys "R" Us. The Disney experience is about escaping reality -- fun with family and friends, being a kid again, meeting characters and of course rides and attractions. I think this aligns well for toys. However, I think the Macy's experience should be focused on selling the aspirational yet attainable reality/lifestyle. What if they converted some of their selling space into living space? (e.g. "Residence by Macy's".)
  • Posted on: 05/31/2017

    Will personalized pricing only lead to more discounting?

    I believe it will be all about the implementation of the personalized pricing program; it should be part of a broader, clearly-defined personalization strategy. It shouldn't be generally available to every shopper and preferably should be a part of a known shopper loyalty program. If a retailer has the data to prescribe an individual customer's willingness to pay for a given product, then they would logically make more money on that product as they are finding the optimal maximum product price per shopper rather than using the single price model for all. I think the tough part will be to implement it in an unbiased way, so shoppers are not left feeling slighted.
  • Posted on: 05/30/2017

    Will Google change the game by linking clicks to in-store purchases?

    If the loop can be closed between online and in-store for shopper behavior and purchases, it would truly be a step change. Net-new capabilities would be realized by a number of stakeholders, including brand marketers, agencies and publishers, and it would also enable otherwise unachievable consumer experiences. I like where this is going.
  • Posted on: 05/17/2017

    Why is Walmart so concerned about Aldi and Lidl?

    Reliably-available, value-priced goods + conveniently-located, well-maintained stores + well-paid employees = a winning formula.
  • Posted on: 05/09/2017

    Will next day delivery make Target an omnichannel force?

    These types of moves are necessary. However Target needs to harness a deeper resolve to be a part of defining retail rather than settling with it being defined for them.
  • Posted on: 05/02/2017

    Will consumers finally pay for service?

    I have been developing a theory: "Frictional Cost in Retail." Effectively, the idea is that shoppers are willing to deal with more "friction" as prices go lower. Friction can be from needing to hunt for coupons to the cleanliness of a store to the availability of customer service. So think of the a retail spectrum from a bazaar to Bergdorf Goodman. So the theory goes, if a shopper wants less friction then they would be willing to pay higher prices per item, pay a fee to remove the friction at the aggregate level -- think Amazon Prime -- or move up-market to a higher-tier retailer. High-touch customer service with lower prices is a difficult-to-impossible model. Retailers will have to rethink self-service, leveraging technology to build effective and efficient customer service experiences.
  • Posted on: 05/02/2017

    Will giving associates mobile devices enhance the shopping experience?

    An associate who is engaging with a customer without a mobile device is flying blind. Customers are coming into the store with an intention based on research and if they need to engage with an associate, it's for a deal-closing inquiry like: "Where is it in-store?" or "What does it cost?" or "Can I get it at another store?" If an associate is unable to answer those sorts of questions, that research kicks in and the customer moves on to the retailer's competitor. Mobility gives associates access to line-of-business applications, scanning, voice communications, payment and more -- empowering them in the moment.
  • Posted on: 05/01/2017

    Is omnichannel a retail margin crusher?

    Digitally-driven fulfillment options need to be viewed through a different profitability lens than traditional fulfillment (the shopper grabs an item off of a shelf) classically has. Last year, I wrote a piece on this topic, "Is Omnichannel Even Possible?" It's complicated. Also, generally I think because of the digital shift there is a "reset" underway in retail, which I try to depict here. These are not cyclical shifts, they are structural; far too many are not accepting this fact.
  • Posted on: 04/28/2017

    Will Amazon’s Echo Look be a clothes selling machine?

    Version 1.0 of "Echo Look" will get you comfortable with using the technology and seeing yourself in your clothes with Look's unique image treatment. However, subsequent versions will get you buying, leveraging augmented reality to overlay virtual goods on your body with the same image treatment, making it feel like an item you already own.
  • Posted on: 04/03/2017

    Will mobile order and pay-only stores improve Starbucks’ operational performance?

    Having one or more dedicated mobile order and pay-only stores, near existing dine-in Starbucks locations, will allow for the load balancing of orders -- smoothing out the experience for customers and baristas. Smart idea.

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