Sterling Hawkins

Co-founder, CART (Center for Advancing Retail & Technology)
Sterling Hawkins runs operations and venture relations as co-founder of CART. Sterling’s legacy is that of a 5th generation retailer whose family name is synonymous with supermarket retail. From that springboard, he has worked with clients on best practices in consumer marketing, loyalty, and retail technology including Mitsubishi, M&M Meat Shop, Procter & Gamble and many others. Through CART, he has also partnered with universities including Stanford, Cornell and the University of Texas to incorporate the future of retail into their curricula and provide a go-to-market channel for relevant startups.

In 2004, Sterling co-founded, launched and sold his first retail technology company, Convena. He’s been actively involved in the retail technology startup scene ever since, hosting monthly events, mentoring promising entrepreneurs and involved with the board of a regional investment group. Sterling lives in Los Angeles, loves to travel and gives what time he can to non-profits. He received his BS in Management from Bentley University with a Minor in International Studies and passed the Series 65.

  • Posted on: 04/26/2017

    Will artificial intelligence replace CEOs?

    And there are countless others using Watson and homegrown AI for marketing, store planning, assortment optimization, pricing, etc. You can't argue with math that improves performance and reduces labor. Though as long as there are humans involved anywhere in the process there needs to be a supporting leadership and culture.
  • Posted on: 04/25/2017

    Can tailored digital video messaging transform grocery end-caps?

    The key is having the value exchange such that consumers look at it as a value-add and not simply a loss of privacy. Done right, there's a sweet spot between a retailer's best customers and a brand's best customers, which can clearly pay off in ROI for all involved.
  • Posted on: 04/24/2017

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

    Store associates need to be rewarded for all the customers they're supporting, regardless of channel. Their participation helping customers online, via BOPIS or shopping in-store can be invaluable, especially if they are empowered to make the customer experience what it should be. Technology simply extends the store associates' reach to have a broader and potentially more meaningful impact.
  • Posted on: 04/13/2017

    Are retail CEOs ready to ‘disagree and commit’ like Jeff Bezos?

    Paralysis by analysis. It's rampant in much of retail today, usually stemming from a desire to be predictable (and not wrong) vs. taking risks to create something new. Incrementally adding new technologies without willing to risk anything in place today leaves traditional retail without much room for change. I'm very much supportive of the approach Amazon is taking and the results speak for themselves.
  • Posted on: 04/11/2017

    Are ‘Employee of the Month’ programs worth it?

    I'm a big fan of the measurable goals each employee is rewarded against. It can remove the politics and include team/department measures to make sure employees are working towards meaningful objectives for the business. When the business is doing well; the employees should do well.
  • Posted on: 04/10/2017

    Should the same-store sales metric be retired?

    Different metrics apply to different executives and even different retailers. A department store might need to lean more on omnichannel metrics vs. a custom bridal retail location for example. On the whole, omnichannel metrics are becoming more important as we see a critical mass of consumers changing how they shop.
  • Posted on: 04/07/2017

    What will the fourth industrial revolution mean for retail supply chains and jobs?

    Industry 4.0 and automation does mean retraining and retooling will be required in the workforce. As old jobs are retired, new jobs will open up that haven't existed before. There's uncertainty in the transition; however, innovation will continue to march on.
  • Posted on: 04/05/2017

    BrainTrust throwdown: Is it inevitable that tech companies will dominate retail?

    The way retailers have historically gone to market is fundamentally changing and consumers now hold the power in the supply chain. I'm in agreement with Mark here that what the brand stands for and how they create experiences (online or off) becomes the basis for success. Technology is only a supporting factor.
  • Posted on: 04/04/2017

    Why haven’t customer surveys gone mobile?

    There is this mentality of a survey "add-on" that's common in retail. Many retailers view having a survey as an obligatory measure, while it's actually the intent to improve the shopping experience and hear from customers that should be the driving force. There are at least several startups that are transforming surveys with gamification, AI and other emerging tech tools that make them more engaging to take and yield more meaningful results.
  • Posted on: 03/31/2017

    An open letter to retailers from a Millennial: Fix your omnichannel!

    There's a massive historical infrastructure many retailers have that makes it hard to break down silos and actually innovate. Some of them have taken the right steps, but the costs involved make the process too slow for the consumer market to bear. We're seeing eCommerce players move into the brick and mortar world much more flexibly because they're able to create an infrastructure purpose-built for omnichannel. Having updated information in the right place at the right time is key to omnichannel workability and a great customer experience.
  • Posted on: 03/28/2017

    Do retailers need middle men to match them up with tech startups?

    Retailers of all sizes are and should be reaching into new circles for innovation and innovation opportunities. There is both the benefit of the innovation itself (technology) as well as the "innovation thinking" (culture) that can permeate into a traditional retail operation. The value of both of those things cannot simply be brought in-house effectively; these third parties are a very helpful addition to move the industry forward.
  • Posted on: 03/27/2017

    Lowe’s innovates because it has to

    Right. Innovation for the sake of innovation doesn't do anyone any good. Investment in innovation can and should be used to find new, better and more efficient ways to do things; however, only if they're potentially viable in market. Lowe's is smart in testing different technology in different stores so they can measure actual results and see how shoppers are responding before committing to further investments.
  • Posted on: 03/24/2017

    Will struggling retailers find new lives as pure play e-tailers?

    Channel should almost always be secondary to the offering. Retailers moving to pure-play online just because the economics look better are taking a step towards their own decline. Max is right that there's a core offering issue in these situations that needs to be addressed. The sweet spot for most is making online and in-store work better together.
  • Posted on: 03/22/2017

    What do know-it-all shoppers want?

    Mark is right. Each shopper may want a different level of service and even the same shopper might be looking for a different service level different times they shop. Having tools to smooth the transaction and knowledgeable associates that know when to step in seems like a winning combination.
  • Posted on: 03/21/2017

    Using a social app to prepare for a U.S. retail launch

    There's such a low barrier to entry to bring an app to market that it's a cost effective way to drive interactions and learn about consumers before doubling down on more expensive initiatives. This makes a lot of sense, but only if the app is adding value to shoppers. If the app is poorly received by the market, it could actually have the opposite effect.

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