PROFILE

Stefan Weitz

Executive Vice President, Technology, Radial
Stefan is the EVP for Technology at Radial. In his additional role as Chief Product Officer he leads Radial's overall technology efforts to enable retailers and brands across the world to fully embrace the opportunities afforded to those who excel in eCommerce. Stefan came from Microsoft where he was one the founding members of the Bing search engine. While focused on Microsoft's product line, he worked across the industry to understand searcher behavior, academic developments, and innovations from all over and, in his role as an evangelist for Search, drove key product innovations millions of people see every day. 

Prior to Search, Stefan led the strategy and partnerships to develop the next generation MSN portal platform and developed Microsoft's muni WiFi strategy and implementation, leading the charge to blanket free internet access across metropolitan areas.  Stefan has been writing code since he was 8 years old and got his start at Microsoft in eCommerce with the acquisition of eShop in 1997.  Across his 17 years at Microsoft, his focus was always on whitespace problems that required massive cultural and technical transformations, including applying open-source practices in Windows Server, designing and implementing Microsoft’s Informatics Security, or building entirely new models to support advanced search and discovery across the web.

Stefan holds a half-dozen patents in various disciplines and is a frequent lecturer to industry and academic groups on the future of data, information storage, retrieval, and usage.  He recently published his thoughts in the international best-selling book, “Search: How the Data Explosion Makes us Smarter”.

Stefan is a huge gadget 'junkie' and can often be found in electronics shops across the world looking for the elusive perfect piece of tech.  Stefan also serves on advisory boards for many startups ranging from biometrics to advertising to virtualization and is an active Angel investor.  In his spare time, he is working with national educational reinvention groups to reboot K-12 education in this country and is actively advising startups that are focusing on boosting student achievement through technology and big data.  He sits on the GenCon board of Conservation International and two other technology companies, and is a mentor and advisor for Endeavor Global where he helps cultivate high-impact entrepreneurs around the world.  Finally, Stefan is working on a book with the nation’s youngest VC to promote entrepreneurism to the high-school audience and is actively working on disrupting mobile networks in southern Africa.  He lives in Seattle.
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  • Posted on: 05/25/2017

    Are some retailer CEOs too old to learn new tricks?

    It has very little to do with age and more about the fact that traditional retailers and brands don't possess these skills in their toolkit. They are competing with new entrants who are tech-first and who are often able to operate with minimal margins (or losses) funded by institutions that are betting on massive growth. Most traditional brands and retailers don't enjoy that flexibility -- thus making it difficult to even hire talent to augment the lack of skills they have in order to morph to a more modern retailer.
  • Posted on: 05/24/2017

    Will Amazon’s use of data transform how retailers operate stores?

    There is even more here -- keep in mind Amazon's Go store platform actually has you use the app to enter the store. That means it has much more than simply purchase history -- that means it can determine the amount of time dwell you spend in front of items as you browse the store. It means they can connect all virtual and physical purchases under a single profile. It means they can augment their physical locations with the data gleaned and mastered in the digital world.
  • Posted on: 05/19/2017

    Is Walmart on track to offer customers a seamless shopping experience?

    Lore is laser-focused on taking Amazon down a few notches. Think of what he's done in the last 6 months: reduced free shipping minimums, linking in-store purchases to your online account, offering discounts for in-store pickup and he's soon to announce something that will leverage their 11,000 stores and 6,000 owned and operated trucks. Combine that with the acquisitions they are making to drive new eyeballs to their properties and you begin to see them copying the customer-centric flywheel that has made Amazon so powerful.
  • Posted on: 05/18/2017

    Is the $400B prescription drug business ripe for an Amazon disruption?

    Drugs are a pure commodity -- which is where Amazon shines. If the product is exactly the same (which is the case with FDA-approved substances), all Amazon is competing on is customer experience, with which they have already shown they will win. Comparing a typical Amazon transaction with the labyrinth of phone trees and troves of unnecessary repeated information required to get a mail order pharmacy order completed is illustrative. Imagine Amazon combines their Mayday feature with this offering, allowing instant video access to a pharmacist via your kitchen table while pills are dispatched for same-day delivery. Goodnight retail pharmacies.
  • Posted on: 05/16/2017

    Are digital CX initiatives being lost on Baby Boomers?

    While certainly Boomers are slower to adopt technology, I think the thing that is really bedeviling tech adoption in retail is complexity. Poorly-designed apps that do too much, a lack of a solid value proposition as to why one would use the technology and a mismatch between online and offline experiences drive people away. I read a stat recently that said 28 percent of U.S. adults online check into a location-based app with their phone every time they enter a store -- so there is clearly appetite there.
  • Posted on: 05/10/2017

    Are pricing bots a boon or bane for consumers?

    I've always thought it curious that we have MSRPs that are static. It seems like a more market-driven approach (with speed brakes to guard against gouging) that prices products based on their demand curve at a micro-level is a more rational way to conduct business. The mere act of setting an MSRP is sort of funny when you think about it: some planner in a business takes often slate macro-economic data to set what she thinks the market will bear -- in many cases months in advance of the introduction.All that being said, I can't even imagine the headaches market-driven pricing would create for producers as suddenly their margins are highly variable -- and products for which they've over-engineered suddenly can't command enough revenue to cover their costs.
  • Posted on: 05/10/2017

    Has Fabletics bridged the digital/physical divide with its omnicart tech?

    I don't know if it will meaningfully increase sales in the short-term, but medium-term this is exactly the type of thinking that will enable brick-and-mortar to survive and thrive in the age of Amazon. I've been speaking for a while about the need for physical retailers to embrace what makes digital so appealing to consumers: ease of finding items, frictionless payments, access to reviews and product information and more. Those brands and retailers that launch initiatives like this omnichannel shopping cart (which I haven't seen but sounds really impressive) are going to earn the right to exist in a world where e-commerce is a bigger share of the pie.Amazon Go is also pioneering removing friction from the first step -namely having to remember a rewards number or some other unique ID to engage in the omnichannel process. In that scenario, simpy launching the app to gain entrance into the store tells the system that you are ready to shop and begins to track your purchases as you walk down the aisles.Bottom line: a focus on imbuing our physical retail stores with technology that makes them feel more digital is a winning formula.
  • Posted on: 05/09/2017

    Will next day delivery make Target an omnichannel force?

    This feels, as you report, more like a Prime Pantry response than a true next-day delivery competitor. Amazon will have same-day in the top 50 DMA this year, with next-day in the next 50 for items that are the most likely to be sold in that city stocked in the regional or metropolitan DC. Target having 8,000 items in one city that are mostly focused on home replenishment is a good step, but years and $100 million behind Amazon's reality.Target is actually one of the few retailers that is really embracing the tenets of omnichannel: dropship, ship-from-store and pickup in-store, a single customer profile and returns across channel. These are actually very powerful antidotes to Amazon's hegemony and should not be overlooked.
  • Posted on: 05/08/2017

    Can Walmart dash past Amazon with its own product replenishment system?

    As a guy who built a massive, global search engine, I can tell you the scenarios they describe in the patents are there for illustration, not for any real-time application any time soon. Besides the privacy concerns that some segment of consumers will undoubtedly have, the actual risk to being too clever with machine learning is high. In other words, if Facebook shows you a bad ad because of an error in their behavioral profile algorithm, it's not a big deal. However, if Walmart sends you a new tube of toothpaste because of an issue with their algo, that is an entirely new problem.Still, love the way Walmart is pushing hard on the future and investing heavily to keep Amazon at bay.
  • Posted on: 05/05/2017

    Will retailers get cut out by consumers in the future economy?

    In my business we are seeing increasing numbers of brands who a.) have never sold through a retailer or b.) see a better opportunity to sell direct to consumers as a way to increase loyalty and margins. At the same time, consumer behavior (thanks to Amazon and their marketplace) is shifting away from the channel through which a product is procured and more towards simply getting the product a consumer wants, when they want it and how they want to receive it.The confluence of these two trends is obviously stressing traditional retailers who have historically served the curatorial role. Retailers who seem to be thriving are the ones who have found a niche or audience segment that they can authentically speak to and can serve effectively -- both are required to be able to compete.
  • Posted on: 05/02/2017

    Can UPS get retailers to share in delivery costs?

    I can tell you that forecasts for even eCommerce companies are hard. In a recent analysis, we found that less than 10% of retailers and brands got to within 10% of their forecast most of the time. While there should be better visibility and accuracy based on demand-gen activities performed by retailers, knowing how to split inventory between stores and online and anticipating events over which you have no control (weather, celebrity, scandal) is proving difficult.Certainly UPS, with high variable costs, needs to hold retailers and brands accountable to better numbers so they can plan for labor and capacity which ultimately makes the entire ecosystem more efficient and should drive down costs for all.
  • Posted on: 04/28/2017

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

    This is how it begins. For a while now we have said that Amazon is at a disadvantage because of their lack of in-store experiences like clienteling. With this technology, they have effectively overcome one of the last barriers to buying clothes online. They already allow for free shipping (often overnight or same day) and free returns and now they are able to have concierge like service without the customer ever having to leave home. Combine this with their MayDay service on their tablets, and suddenly you have the potential for concierges for any product -- again, without having to get off your couch. This is a big deal.
  • Posted on: 04/27/2017

    Is Walmart’s Store No. 8 breaking boundaries or bonds with its core customers?

    I think not only is it smart, it's necessary to survive against Amazon. Marc's stated goal is to be a great long-tail provider in e-commerce but also to attract new customers into the fold through higher-end brands like Bonobos and Modcloth. Furthermore, the Store No. 8 work is also about infusing tech into the enterprise outside of Bentonville to take advantage of their structure (i.e. 4,000 stores) and supply chain. I think it's a pretty brilliant move, actually.
  • Posted on: 04/25/2017

    Will omnichannel make the J.C. Penney and Sephora partnership more successful?

    I admit I am a bit perplexed at the success. I don't have the audience demos for each, but the overlap seems tenuous. Maybe that is why it's succeeded -- Sephora gets relatively inexpensive access to a demo that they didn't otherwise have in their B&M and JCP taps into a younger, non-core JCP audience by offering these products in a more locations that just Sephora stores.The omnichannel expansion just seems obvious -- offer more engagement with the brand inside of JCP and drive more foot traffic (which can be cross-monetized) as a result of that higher engagement. Super smart IMHO.
  • Posted on: 04/24/2017

    Should Bloomingdale’s sales associates receive commissions for online sales?

    Any time BOPIS happens, the associate should get some sort of commission (maybe it's reduced from full commission, but there needs to be recognition of the work required to manage the increasing burden). But it also really highlights the value of tools to allow associates to drive a better customer in-store experience that can lead both to loyalty and increased sales through better upsell, cross-sell and clienteling experiences. Being able to turn a BOPIS or return into a new sale for which an associate can get full commission is really the play here -- and to do that, they will need more information than most currently have about the customer.

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