Shawn Harris

Customer Partnerships & Strategy, SmartLens, NA
Shawn heads North American retail customer partnerships & strategy for an AI powered multi sensor platform, SmartLens, which truly digitizes the store floor. Shawn helps to navigate the ever changing retail and T&L landscape, providing thought leadership, pragmatic insights, and innovative human-centered solutions for issues pertaining to customer experience, and staff productivity. Shawn's passion rests in brick-and-mortar and digital retail technology experiences, operations, and supply chain management . Shawn has been involved with store systems, ecommerce, and order management technologies for over 15 years, having held management positions in, or consulted to, numerous Tier-1 retailers including, TJX Cos, Staples, and Uniqlo (Fast Retailing). Shawn also founded a luxury menswear brand, ECC Life&Style, which most was known for designing and making clothing for some of New England’s most regarded corporate executives and professional athletes across the country. Shawn keeps a keen eye on what’s potentially next, by staying closely involved in the Boston, New York, and Silicon Valley startup communities. Shawn recently served as the program lead for the Startup Leadership Program, and has participated in startup programs through Techstars, New York Fashion Tech Lab, MassChallenge, and New York Fashion Tech Lab. For 8 years Shawn honorably served in the Army National Guard as an infantryman and armored personnel carrier (APC) driver. Shawn has a passion for culture and language. He speaks conversational Japanese, and has traveled extensively through Europe, Africa, and Asia for business. Shawn earned his MBA from Babson College, and a bachelor's degree in management information systems from the University of Massachusetts. Read Shawn's blog at: <b><a href=""> </a></b>
  • Posted on: 08/13/2019

    Is Nike’s new subscription program for kids a parent’s best friend?

    This is brilliant! This removes purchasing friction for parents, builds predictable supply flow and sales for Nike, and no company knows their customers better than Nike -- so kids will get the on-trend kicks they love!
  • Posted on: 08/12/2019

    Nike to marry predictive analytics and RFID to optimize inventory performance

    Nike, like no other brand, knows their customer; this supports that. This is a perfect union that will more perfectly align demand forecasts to supply.
  • Posted on: 07/22/2019

    Walmart shakes things up, further integrating online and physical store teams

    There are some integrations that are logical. I hope this was assessed as an opportunity, meant to enhance the two business growth potential, vs. just a move to save OPEX. A few years ago, I wrote a piece where I attempted to model these sorts of e-commerce/traditional integrations: "Is Omnichannel Even Possible?" Here's an excerpt: "Provide your traditional and ecommerce business units with “Good money,” which is money that encourages a focus on driving growth and profits, respectively. The two businesses should have independent administrative functions, including finance and HR. However, they should share customer data, product information, marketing assets, inventory insights, and fulfillment services. All inter-organizational shared services should be accessible via discreet web services. In addition, ecommerce should leverage the core business’ supply chain where appropriate; augmenting to meet its unique needs, up to and including leveraging services like Amazon’s Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA), in order to support scaling."
  • Posted on: 07/01/2019

    Can mobile sensing tools boost worker productivity?

    The folks at Dartmouth have been working on this for at least five years, before many were aware of the impact Machine Learning could have. You can see the original study here. I think this will be super powerful, alerting management of associates who may need additional training before there's a realized problem.
  • Posted on: 06/18/2019

    Former Snapchat and Quidsi execs come up with possible rival to Amazon

    We'll see. What Amazon has built would require a competitor who has a structural difference, not different features.
  • Posted on: 06/17/2019

    Does self-checkout make sense for Costco?

    There are more pros than cons with this action. As stated in the article, better customer experience through faster front-ends and a positive impact on labor hours. Adding mobile checkout could be yet another option; I'm sure Costco will want to make sure shrink is contained, so more testing and learning to come...
  • Posted on: 06/17/2019

    How well did Target handle its no good, very bad weekend?

    This event will have a short shelf life. Outages unfortunately happen, though retailers do all they can to mitigate them. From what I have read, from offering water to discounts, it sounds like store staff stepped up.
  • Posted on: 02/11/2019

    Is there really wisdom in the crowd?

    There are plenty of examples where the crowd has out-performed other methods of problem solving. Recall Joy's Law of Management: "no matter who you are, most of the smartest people work for someone else...” -- Bill Joy. Even NASA uses crowdsourcing to solve some of its most pressing problems, awarding over $20 million in award money. Also, there is an AI firm, Unanimous AI, who has successfully leveraged human crowdsourcing plus AI to surface counterintuitive valuable insights. It works!
  • Posted on: 12/14/2018

    Does fear motivate workers or make things worse?

    Fear is not the answer; trust is. To inspire and motivate associates, management has to be trusted. Trust creates and environment where threats are reduced, and thinking and creativity are liberated. Trust creates attachment, which is foundational to a majority of our institutional ideals. A free thinking, creative, and brand-attached associate will be "felt" by customers; improving their customer experience, thus improving a retailer's revenue potential. Ditch fear.
  • Posted on: 12/12/2018

    Is Kroger following the Sears playbook for self-destruction?

    The anecdotal assessment is not lining up with Kroger's empirical performance. I think Kroger is doing a lot of the right things, and has the right culture to execute. The CEO's, Rodney McMullen, comment seems spot on "We’re moving from a traditional grocer to a growth company with both a strong customer ecosystem that offers anything, anytime, anywhere, and asset-light, high-margin alternative partnerships and services...” As Kroger, and others in grocery and retail, go through their digital transformation the additional investments and shrinking contribution margin will force them to make tough economic decisions (e.g. new floors, or more cores); at this time it seems like Kroger is navigating pretty well.
  • Posted on: 12/11/2018

    Will ‘Practice’ make for perfectly loyal customers at Lululemon?

    I wonder if the inclusion of the monthly fitness programs will make Practice reimbursable by most insurance providers. There could be a very ingenious angle here.
  • Posted on: 12/11/2018

    Should Amazon buy Target?

    Bezos Acquisition Thesis:
    1. Customers love it;
    2. It can scale;
    3. It has healthy ROIC;
    4. It is durable over time ...
    I think Target would hit the mark and align well with Amazon. Here is a prediction I had earlier this year: Thoughts on this prediction, @Amazon to acquire @Target? Might as well throw @Starbucks in there too... $110B+ #Retail #Predictions2018— Shawn Harris (@SmarterRetailer) January 2, 2018
  • Posted on: 11/06/2018

    Facebook delivers digital brands to the Market @ Macy’s for Christmas

    The biggest threat to Amazon, besides regulation, is Facebook owning the customer and partner retailers owning the product and fulfillment; through even more partners. This is a great first step by Facebook, I mean Macy's.
  • Posted on: 10/29/2018

    What if artificial intelligence is biased?

    The view of the world an AI has, is not the world; it's its training data. The inscrutable nature of AI makes it difficult, or impossible, to understand prediction logic and to pinpoint flaws of bias; this is still very much a research problem. However, this is where I believe that diversity of thought among applied data scientist, data engineers, and ethics validators will pay dividends.
  • Posted on: 10/11/2018

    Re:Store concept mixes co-work and co-retail

    WeWork just announced a similar plan; at scale. It makes total sense for such spaces to leverage their supportive and captive audience of entrepreneurs, freelancers, startups, and small businesses. This will allow them to further monetize the platform they've created beyond "rents"; provide exposure to aspiring brands and provide a convenient shopping experience for their community.

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