PROFILE

Karen Wong

Co-Founder & CEO, TakuLabs Ltd.

Karen Wong is a retail strategist and thought-leader on operations innovation and leveraging data for growth. An avid entrepreneur, Karen has 15+ years of experience running ventures in Canada and East Asia. As a founder of both ACE POS Solutions Ltd. and TakuLabs Ltd., her passion is developing technology to help retailers easily scale their businesses across all channels. Her companies currently work with more than 6,000 retailers in North America and are building out next generation unified commerce solutions to help retail chain stores move to the cloud and allow merchants to use their own data to sell more.

Karen is proud to work together with local schools and universities to offer internships and mentoring to tomorrow’s marketing and IT leaders. Karen is a voracious reader and tech enthusiast always looking for new approaches to problem solving.

To learn more, visit: takulabs.io

Karen Wong is a retail strategist and thought-leader on operations innovation and leveraging data for growth. An avid entrepreneur, Karen has 15+ years of experience running ventures in Canada and East Asia. As a founder of both ACE POS Solutions Ltd. and TakuLabs Ltd., her passion is developing technology to help retailers easily scale their businesses across all channels. Her companies currently work with more than 6,000 retailers in North America and are building out next generation unified commerce solutions to help retail chain stores move to the cloud and allow merchants to use their own data to sell more. Karen is proud to work together with local schools and universities to offer internships and mentoring to tomorrow’s marketing and IT leaders. Karen is a voracious reader and tech enthusiast always looking for new approaches to problem solving.
  • VIEW ARTICLES
  • VIEW COMMENTS
  • Posted on: 06/04/2021

    Have flagships become obsolete?

    Flagships work for brands that know how to leverage them, hence why they are increasingly scarce.
  • Posted on: 06/04/2021

    Rent the Runway becoming Resell the Runway

    I see this as a natural monetization play for Rent the Runway. It's aligned with the values of their customer base and those who do already prefer to support circular consumption. Based on the trends during the pandemic, these customers overlap more than even RTR expected. As long as resale is a value-add and not a dilution of their value prop, they have the ability to leverage a large base and recognizable brand.
  • Posted on: 06/04/2021

    Voice assistant takes orders from McDonald’s drive-thru customers

    Having friends with startups in this space and working with QSRs, this type of tech has a lot of potential as long as it's implemented into a process with choice - e.g. does not exclude those we are not comfortable with voice tech. There's no turning back time with digitization - yes, high-touch interaction is great but it's not consistent, especially during peak periods at a QSR which is when drive-thru tech like this really shines.
  • Posted on: 05/28/2021

    Should Amazon or rivals be more wary if it opens brick and mortar pharmacies?

    Amazon is very good at moving into categories where experience isn't a driving factor at the time of purchase. Branding and perception of quality aside, convenience and price are very important to consumers when they buy pharmaceuticals. And these are Amazon's key USPs.
  • Posted on: 05/06/2021

    Are consumers getting less creeped out about being tracked online?

    It would be interesting to see how the same people would respond if they knew what data is actually being collected and analyzed to determine behavior. The recent Signal Facebook ads showing what data is used to run ads (which were immediately banned) were shocking to many but par for the course where personalization is involved.
  • Posted on: 04/27/2021

    What will greater access to Amazon’s customers mean for marketplace sellers?

    I wouldn't say it's a step in the right direction as much as it's an inch in the right direction. I'm simply glad there are still competitors in the market to keep them somewhat honest.
  • Posted on: 04/09/2021

    Will Google Maps bring a new dimension to the in-store experience?

    Good point. It's exactly these types of use cases that most systems/integrations can't handle. We currently send direct product feeds to Google Merchant Center with real-time stock levels, pricing, description, etc. Our stock availability is based on transaction movement across all channels. It wouldn't be a stretch to add location down to the aisle/shelf level but how many stores are able to track products to the shelf level without IoT? We were involved in a pilot involving overhead RFID previously so I can see aisle being doable in the near-term in a store with frequent merchandising changes provided the aisles are large enough for accuracy. We're not yet at a place where we can combine both location-based and transaction-based data for greater accuracy, but that's the goal for sure.
  • Posted on: 04/09/2021

    Will Google Maps bring a new dimension to the in-store experience?

    We work with Google for local inventory feeds to drive in-store foot traffic and shoppable maps will have a big impact on the CX by reducing pre-shopping friction and decreasing the number of touchpoints prior to purchase. My main questions are: how easy will this be for shoppers to use and for merchants to implement? I'll be first in line to integrate this to our existing platform.
  • Posted on: 03/23/2021

    Is AI adoption moving too fast?

    Are we talking about true AI or AI in name? Many tech companies commonly call automation AI today in the race to attract both talent and funding. If it's automation, it's still happening too slow in contrast to what shoppers want. In the rare case where AI is actually being applied, yes there is cause for concern for both bias and data privacy. The trade-off between convenience and privacy is and will continue to be one of the big dualities when it comes to data and technology.
  • Posted on: 03/23/2021

    Walmart opens marketplace to non-U.S. sellers, hears DoorDash drivers’ gripes

    As long as Walmart lives up to its claim of a rigorous screening process and is working with merchants that can deliver within their expected delivery times, there's no reason for the marketplace expansion to have issues. The last-mile fulfillment issue is more of a concern as it will be an ongoing issue for them given their target demographic. Is it surprising that the customers for Walmart would be less likely to tip as generously as those who order meals for delivery? It's not clear how Walmart will look to solve this in the long-term given the capacity they need for their volumes but I would expect them to double-down on curbside pickup instead which is both more profitable and efficient for them.
  • Posted on: 03/23/2021

    How to save today’s mall

    The relevance of malls depends a lot on the location of the mall (proximity to target demographics, weather patterns) and the cohesion of the tenants. Even if malls have an attractive mixed-used tenant base, all of the tenants need to be aligned in how they provide CX. Up north where I am, the weather requires enclosed malls for the colder months. And mall developers are finally requiring tenants to participate in mall-wide programs such as combined returns for all mall retailers into a single shipment. Or consolidated mall product search web applications instead of only physical signage.
  • Posted on: 03/09/2021

    IoT could be the key to ending food spoilage in grocery stores

    Yes! Thank you for pointing out the problem. So much of today's data collection happens in silos. Integration to real-time product feeds is ideal but there's still a lot of work to be done. We've worked with a few partners on pilots for our feeds, but figuring out a way to monetize this is still a struggle as there's always short-term lower hanging fruit elsewhere competing for the investment dollars.
  • Posted on: 03/09/2021

    Wholesale curtailed. Is retail’s favorite model faltering?

    The power play is related to a.) the capital for vertical integration, b.) price elasticity in the category, c.) the need for volume and d.) the breadth of the product lines. As others have said, DTC works best in mid-to-high discretionary categories.
  • Posted on: 03/09/2021

    Automated checkout ‘will be everywhere’ sooner rather than later

    I believe automated checkouts will definitely be more common over time. Accessibility to mobile devices aside, we will always need some registers for cash and customer service. But this just makes the entire process even more expensive. How do you plug a cashierless system into POS + existing inventory systems? Cashierless systems have their own hurdles but integration to legacy systems (or otherwise upgrading ERPs) is a whole other problem.
  • Posted on: 03/08/2021

    Do rivals need to follow Costco’s minimum wage lead right now?

    As a business owner myself, across the board increases in wage have a big long-term impact on costing. However once you've taken into account the true impact and inefficiency of high turnover and lower performance, it's definitely a case of "you get what you pay for." If you want to attract high-performing, loyal staff, you have to pay a fair market wage.

Contact Karen

  • Apply to be a BrainTrust Panelist

  • Please briefly describe your qualifications — specifically, your expertise and experience in the retail industry.
  • By submitting this form, I give you permission to forward my contact information to designated members of the RetailWire staff.

    See RetailWire's privacy policy for more information about what data we collect and how it is used.