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: 08/18/2017

    What do consumers want when using AR or VR to shop?

    This is definitely a discussion that needs to be had by vertical. As Cate says, if it's not adding value it's not worth it.At the same time, all retailers need to be aware of the innovation and continually reassessing. We live in a world where consumers are holding more and more power in the supply chain. If a retailer's consumers are on mobile, the retailer needs to be mobile friendly. If a retailer's consumers are ordering online, the retailer needs to support ecommerce. And if a critical mass of a retailer's consumers are in a VR shopping experience, the retailer would need to meet them there as well.
  • Posted on: 08/16/2017

    What bad habits do retail solution providers need to break?

    Right on, Carol! Solution providers need to solve a problem or create a new opportunity for the retailer. Having people with retail experience on the solution provider's team always helps with the product/market fit. I'm most aligned with the combination of a short-term, high impact project along with a long term product roadmap. Really working with the retailer to see some returns in the short term and partnering through growth is a best-case scenario.
  • Posted on: 08/15/2017

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

    Target is behind the curve when it comes to innovation and I'm glad to see they've finally stepped up to home delivery. Better late than never. Target has historically been very good at understanding the wants and needs of their guests and serving them accordingly. Technology is a new piece of that puzzle it seems they're still sorting out. Target needs to accelerate their innovation cycle to get to what works for their guests faster as retail continues to evolve.
  • Posted on: 08/14/2017

    Does the internet know us better than we know ourselves?

    Data is extremely important. However, when locked into a personalization engine like Netflix, it can keep us on a cycle of continuing to do what we've always done. There's a balance between catering to the past and offering consumers something new and different. Businesses have to balance those channels of feedback with being able to create something entirely new. True innovation. Had Henry Ford asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.
  • Posted on: 08/10/2017

    Should Walmart buy Birchbox?

    Right on that the traditional Walmart customer probably isn't the Birchbox customer. Walmart has been on a roll lately though expanding beyond their roots to reach new customers and to reach existing customers in a new way. I wouldn't say this deal is a natural, but I can see a scenario where Walmart makes it work.
  • Posted on: 08/08/2017

    Why is big food turning to pop-up stores to tell brand stories?

    Customer engagement for sure and also to establish a direct relationship with the customers. Yes, having a direct route gives consumers a chance to experience the brand. The brand can then collect feedback to better understand the customer for marketing, product development, etc. It's a win on all sides for most brands.
  • Posted on: 08/04/2017

    Can customer journey methodology level the playing field for brick and mortar retail?

    Brick-and-mortar stores actually have more potential data points to pull from than those that are purely online. The data is not only from member data, but foot traffic, camera data, sentiment analysis, etc. Retail executives can borrow a page out of the customer journey play book that e-commerce companies have been using for years and overlay store-generated information over the top.
  • Posted on: 08/02/2017

    Are there too many grocery stores?

    And this doesn't even account for non-traditional grocery sellers like Amazon Fresh and Google Express! The grocery space is clearly heating up and most every retailer out there knows it. Technology, service and data are central to competing and grocers making the most of those things will survive.
  • Posted on: 08/01/2017

    How disruptive is Alexa to CPG brands?

    Conversational commerce is shaking up traditional retail and it creates countless opportunities for brands. Many are open ecosystems (at the moment) and creating brand experiences bring participating CPGs closer to the consumer in a way never before seen. It does need to be treated as a new and distinct channel, not simply an extension of a brand's existing mobile or digital strategy.
  • Posted on: 07/31/2017

    Is ‘free’ a big enough incentive to get consumers to try click and collect?

    There's also a convenience factor beyond urgency that makes it easier for shoppers to get product on their way. We're agreed that BOPIS discounts are a great way to get consumers to trial the experience. Making it a fully integrated and valuable component of a full omnichannel strategy is the way to keep consumers engaged.
  • Posted on: 07/27/2017

    Can robots keep shelves stocked at Schnucks?

    Overstocks and out-of-stocks still cost retailers over $1.1 trillion globally in lost revenue. Some retailers manage inventory better than others, but that still points to the fact that most inventory management systems need to be augmented with additional tools to enhance their performance. Robots filling that gap makes a lot of sense and I'm in agreement here that customers, vendors and the retailer themselves will see benefit.
  • Posted on: 07/26/2017

    Can in-store experiences save retail?

    Retailers definitely need to shift some of the core KPIs that are driving their business as they become more loyal customer centric. New customers could be granted a special enhanced experience for some period of time as the personalization catches up. Key in all of this is really using the data to drive the personalized experiences.
  • Posted on: 07/24/2017

    Do consumers want to be recognized across channels?

    Simply doing something because it's possible is not the objective here. It has to become part of a value exchange that works. Shoppers want added value, recognition and support and as retailers are able to actually do that along the path to purchase, shoppers will welcome the interaction. As more retailers get cross-touchpoint interactions right, the more it will become expected.
  • Posted on: 07/21/2017

    Will Walmart’s innovation strategies pay off?

    I'm with Charles; they're on the right track for sure! They've put together what appears to be an effective M&A strategy along with long-term strategic investing in things like robotics, AI, drones and other more emerging technologies that may take a bit longer to prove out. Innovation is accelerating and Walmart is more than keeping pace.
  • Posted on: 07/20/2017

    How much Big Data do retailers really need?

    I'm with Anne. Understanding big data is only half of the equation; effectively using it to improve the customer experience is the real game. Determining what level of data collection is necessary for it to be actually actionable is a good place to start. Incorporating more detailed data, reporting and actions can come down the road. Several AI tools out there can shortcut much of the heavy lifting to get to more relevancy, faster.

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