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.
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  • Posted on: 09/10/2021

    What’s the ideal age to start a retail business?

    An interesting topic given the average age of those on the BrainTrust panel, myself included. ;) To me it largely depends on the sector, how vertically integrated and how scalable it is. Digital first/DTC businesses do favor the young given their comfort level with technology. But supply chain expertise and operational excellence often come with age. I'd like to think that the retail business favors the adaptable vs. any particular age. The attitude isn't specific to any age.
  • Posted on: 08/26/2021

    Should grocers take a lead role supporting weight loss efforts online?

    I don't see how grocers can avoid wading in. Personally it goes hand-in-hand with minimizing household food waste and companies doing home delivery are increasingly eating into the regular grocery trip. I know that the meal kit service I use from time to time offers a growing list of quality private label staples. And the service definitely highlights calories, how clean a meal is and how easy a meal is to cook. So many I know who have been working from home have turned to meal kits to increase the variety of dishes and minimize the work involved in planning a meal. While I might prefer to go to the grocery store, I often don't have time during the week and I hate the amount of waste that often happens when I buy too much.
  • Posted on: 08/09/2021

    Can Sweaty Betty and Beyond Yoga take on Lululemon?

    Yes, they're a bit late to the game but the category is no longer limited to yoga-driven functionality or style. Given the growing number of athleisure-acceptable situations in our post-pandemic lives, these acquisitions make sense. In fact, Lululemon is popular to the point of being ubiquitous. This opens up the door to other premium plays, even if only in design/styling. After all, I've been in classes where everybody shows up in the same gear.
  • Posted on: 07/27/2021

    What will a new CEO’s Facebook experience bring to Instacart?

    It's a strong indication of where Instacart's growth will come from. I'm not surprised that retailers are complaining that they are eating into co-op dollars. Another reason why Instacart should be one of many digital distribution channels. If you're only using Instacart, you're basically giving away your data and ad dollars.
  • Posted on: 07/27/2021

    Will ‘sound commerce’ make some noise?

    Sound commerce only makes sense in certain categories but there is generally a lot of promise with feed-based e-commerce. To me, sound commerce is simply a more immersive version of social commerce and what we used to call product placement!
  • Posted on: 07/27/2021

    Will the Delta variant keep shoppers and unvaccinated workers at home?

    I can speak for the situation in Canada. We've never been able to return to 100% capacity and our overall vaccination rates are such that most people are comfortable returning to in person shopping/dining. If there is a reversal, it will likely be only those who choose to remain unvaccinated. It will be interesting to see how the new laws in France pan out for vaccination acceptance and sustained brick & mortar activity.
  • Posted on: 07/15/2021

    What does it take to successfully rent customers on social commerce platforms?

    A lot of retailers (at least in the Americas and Europe) are adding social platform discovery and commerce on to existing sales channels and stores. There isn't a blanket answer for all retailers as the margins and touchpoints of discovery are different by sector. We tend to work with CPG retailers who manage large product catalogs. In this instance, social discovery is one of many sales channels and stock availability/proximity are key to conversion. That being said, my tendency is to encourage social discovery integrated to owned platforms as customer data is too important for remarketing, product research and analysis to forego for long-term loyalty. By all means, rent those eyeballs but make sure you know who they are.
  • Posted on: 07/15/2021

    Bed Bath & Beyond adds off-hour pickups and speedier fulfillment to its ‘omni-always’ suite

    Given the size of Bed Bath & Beyond stores and the cost of delivering their range of products, store fulfillment is the economical choice. Off-hours pickup before and even after regular store hours makes sense. It would be interesting to see if they can automate it to 24/7 in the future with smart lockers. It's a feature I would definitely use during the work week since I can't get to the store during their main hours. The important thing is that they are trying new processes.
  • Posted on: 06/28/2021

    Can AI solve e-grocery’s erratic out-of-stock substitutions?

    AI is definitely a good option for optimizing the substitution process and improving customer experience. The problem is that many retailers still haven't automated the problem one step behind substitutions - real-time stock availability. It is hard to act on substitution pain points if you don't even know when you're actually out of stock.
  • 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.

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