Sterling Hawkins

Co-founder, CART (Center for Advancing Retail & Technology)
Sterling Hawkins is a business leader, entrepreneur and investor living at the intersection of in-store and online. Currently running operations and venture relations for CART, his legacy is that of a 5th generation retailer whose family name is synonymous with 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 provider a go-to-market channel for relevant startups.

in 2004, Sterling co-founded, launched and sold his first retail technology company, Convena. Since, we has been actively involved in the community speaking at business conferences around the world. He has been seen in ABC Money, Comstock, RetailWire and Forbes. Sterling lives in Los Angeles and spends his time mobilizing a network of startups, investors and retailers to bring together online and in-store for the betterment of business, communities and the human condition. 

Speaking & Investment:
  • Posted on: 10/18/2017

    Online and Amazon to grow more dominant over the next decade

    I think it's time we start to look at businesses more holistically than simply by channel. Yes, online sales will continue to grow. Yes, there's an impact of that in-store. And how those channels can work together to drive value for the consumer is much more powerful than a single channel alone. As an industry, we've spent the better part of a century finding the exact right places to put stores to be around the people that buy stuff. This is really about how we can use those stores, integrated with online technologies, to better serve the customer.
  • Posted on: 10/16/2017

    A mall carves out pop-up space for online brands

    What a great way to keep malls relevant as a platform to connect online and in-store. It'll keep consumers engaged and give online retailers a chance to be in direct contact with shoppers. We'll see a lot more of this in the future and more technology and experiences that work cross-channel as well.
  • Posted on: 10/13/2017

    Is Kroger in denial about the magnitude of its challenges?

    There's definitely a bit of balance that needs to take place. Yes, improving product assortments personalized by store and improvements to customer service are table stakes; they are necessary to continue to compete in the marketplace today. And the vision is missing. Understanding what new retail experience Kroger can create sets the stage to thrive in the future.
  • Posted on: 10/11/2017

    Meijer cuts IT staff as it moves to the cloud

    I'm with Tom here. The focus should be on your competitive advantage, and traditional IT tools and support usually doesn't fall into that category. I think this is a good move by Meijer and likely provides better service at a lesser cost. At the same time, how technologies come together for a retailer can be a competitive advantage, which is why it's important to keep higher-level IT / CIO roles in-house.
  • Posted on: 10/10/2017

    Walmart seeks online edge with 35-second returns

    Walmart continues to make the right moves! Not only are they testing and rolling out new innovations, they're getting better at playing the PR & news cycles. This latest announcement of 35 second returns is another step in the right direction of removing friction in the customer experience. It's also another step in redefining the Walmart image from, not just being low price, but being tech savvy and experience conscious as well.
  • Posted on: 10/09/2017

    Office Depot to transform into IT service giant after $1B deal

    It is all about execution and how Office Depot brings the offerings together to add value. There is undoubtably an opportunity in the market and, at a high-level, this seems like a smart move. Done right, the acquisition is used to jumpstart the business and culture.
  • Posted on: 10/04/2017

    Can retailers be healthcare disruptors?

    The massive food and healthcare industries touch every individual, yet are largely disconnected. The opportunity to bring together nutrition and health at a deeper level yields major benefits for the entirety of the value chain. Customers are generally ready and open for this kind of service -- it's just a matter of retailers being more willing to step into the space as well as technology service providers that enable them to unlock that value.
  • Posted on: 10/03/2017

    Walmart deal shows it’s serious about same-day delivery

    Especially with their newfound innovation culture that is keen to try new ideas, engage with new technologies and acquire companies consistent with where they're headed as a business. They understand that technology is a key and growing part of how to improve the customer experience and that's what this is all about. Smart move for Walmart.
  • Posted on: 10/02/2017

    IKEA buys TaskRabbit to give consumers relief with furniture assembly

    It's a super-smart move by IKEA. They're solving a pain point we're all familiar with and there's opportunity to grow into new areas as well. This is on the heels of the launch of their Place AR app; IKEA certainly seems comfortable leveraging technology to dramatically improve the customer experience and it makes all the difference.
  • Posted on: 09/29/2017

    Personalization works. Why don’t more marketers use it?

    Truly personalized messages, offers and content perform exponentially better than even tiered targeting. And there have been three main pieces holding back broader use:
    1. Having the business backing to gain the required levels of data. Personalization doesn't work if there isn't enough meaningful data to work with;
    2. Having the right tools in place to understand the data and how it's effectively personalized. There are countless database tools, personalization engines and AI available to retailers today;
    3. Having the integrations and executive support to use that data in going to market.
    We've all known personalization has worked for years. It's about time we start using it!
  • Posted on: 09/28/2017

    Macy’s counts on new rewards program

    I agree with that; and a loyalty program doesn't necessarily have make shoppers say wow as long as they're spending more or coming more frequently. At the core, a loyalty program is about data. Gathering, understanding and using customer data to change shopper behavior. If Macy's is able to use the data that they have effectively it can make a world of difference. It's not a substitute for using AR, product customization or any other innovation, it's a foundation on which those innovations can and should be built.
  • Posted on: 09/27/2017

    Will customers let Walmart deliver in-fridge?

    Trust is a crucial element and I think we can point to other industries where we let people ride in our cars (Uber) stay in our homes (Airbnb) and fuel our vehicles (Purple). It's really a value exchange in which privacy/security is traded for additional value and it changes over time. It's definitely worth testing and I give Walmart credit for being willing to try something new, even if it is a takeoff on Amazon's activity.
  • Posted on: 09/26/2017

    Will centralized buying make Whole Foods a more formidable competitor?

    It's all in the execution and I do think Amazon will sort out how to centralize most of their Whole Foods buying while maintaining their brand and image. I'm with Anne that people are a real differentiating factor and brand ambassadors will be missed in stores. What we don't yet know is if they'll be replaced with Whole Foods people or if some technology will fill the gap. Knowing Amazon, something must be in the works.
  • Posted on: 09/25/2017

    Target guides customers through the aisles with beacons

    A preview of what's to come, for sure. Especially with the improvements in computer vision, technology helping customers find product in stores will become all but necessary. I'd look at it as complementary to in-store merchandising as it's a case of 1+1 equaling 5 or more.
  • Posted on: 09/20/2017

    Kohl’s to accept product returns for Amazon

    Good idea for Amazon. I'm with Paula here, not so much for Kohl's unless there's an acquisition in the works. And that's a long-shot at best. Effectively letting your largest competitor in the front door isn't worth the long-term detriment for any short-term gain.

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