Shawn Harris

Senior Director, Global Retail and Hospitality Strategy & Business Development,

Leader responsible for all North American go-to-market activities for Zebra’s intelligent automation solution for retail, SmartSight. SmartSight leverages the robotics, computer vision and machine learning capabilities of Zebra’s EMA50 enterprise mobile automation system to capture shelf and store status. The solution also puts data to work by issuing near real-time corrective actions to store associates’ mobile computers. SmartSight is a complete subscription-based solution.

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:

  • Posted on: 01/27/2022

    Will Americans go to Lowe’s to buy dog food?

    Yes, I believe this will work, and I would then expect competitors to follow suit. Also, see Menards. This type of adjacent expansion of SKUs, however executed, is relatively unbounded.
  • Posted on: 01/26/2022

    Amazon Go is going big(ger) in suburban locations

    I could see these being key high service level distribution and returns points, while also being revenue generating. Goods consolidation is key to supply chain economics.
  • Posted on: 12/17/2021

    Do retailers have a recommendation bias problem?

    It is incumbent upon C-suite executives to set the expectation for how these AI-powered solutions should interact with their shoppers; however a key output of this expectation setting is for staff to develop policies and audit practices for enforcement. The root of the issue is the training data used to develop models. Remember, AI models are only as "smart" as the data you train them on. The AI dev team needs to consider the potential unintended consequences of a given model, then work to mitigate those potential issues. This takes having a diverse staff with varying points of view, as there is a deeply human experience aspect to ideating potential model efficacy challenges. However these solutions still need to be thoroughly tested to further uncover missed opportunities for improvement. None of this is easy, but it's required.
  • Posted on: 12/15/2021

    Will grocers turn to Amazon as an alternative to Instacart?

    If Amazon is cheaper, faster, and less impactful on a grocer's existing operations, then yes, they will win. I too believe that the Top 5 will not rush to use this service, but that leaves a significant number of regional and local grocers who are deeply aligned to their economics and will see this as a money saver. In offering this service, I do not think that Amazon will pull back on their own grocery business, see "The Everything Store" by Brad Stone for reference.
  • Posted on: 12/09/2021

    What will it take for brands to build digital communities?

    Like we have seen in enterprise technologies, this sounds like the move from products to solutions. Creating a digital community is a consumer solution and a must for brands if they want to build and maintain a relationship with consumers, otherwise they will be intermediated by social media or other shopping aggregators, subsequently needing to pay for access to their own customers. Deeply understanding why shoppers choose your brand is critical to aligning on what technique will enable you to double down on your core value to shoppers.
  • Posted on: 12/09/2021

    Will consumers ever get over the price hurdle for sustainable goods?

    In our current economic climate I do not believe that consumers will want to pay more, but ultimately will they need to? I see sustainability efforts as early tech -- expensive to start, until economies of scale take over, motivated by persistent consumer demand for change, shareholder pressure like we are seeing from Blackrock, and government incentives. I see the shift occurring over the next five to seven years. By the way, I wonder what happened to Gen Z's concern for the environment and sustainability, given the rise of SHEIN.
  • Posted on: 11/29/2021

    Will lean inventories derail off-pricers?

    Current supply chain issues will create opportunities for off-price retailers. They will sharpen the pencil with suppliers, buying goods sitting in ports for future sell-through, yet remain liquid enough to cut great deals on goods abroad that others would ship, and fly them into the country. Well managed off-price retailers like TJX, Burlington, and Ross will seize the opportunity in front of them.
  • Posted on: 11/24/2021

    Will fans visit Nike in the metaverse?

    The metaverse will be a significant shift for retail as it pivots them from being "hardware" companies to software plays. Less marginal cost management, to more known fixed costs. This is huge! Nikeland is a brilliant idea, Roblox continues to be a very popular "place" to be.
  • Posted on: 08/25/2021

    What will be the toy story of Christmas 2021?

    Just love seeing the Healthy Roots Doll on this post's hero photo. I remember having discussions with Yelitsa, Founder and CEO, at RISD when she was just getting going.
  • Posted on: 06/04/2021

    Does every online retailer need to have a third-party marketplace?

    I believe that it is a winner-takes-most world when it comes to online. Though I do think that if you can monetize your distribution (aka eyeballs), logistics, and brand in your retail segment -- profitably -- then you should establish a marketplace.
  • Posted on: 05/06/2021

    Labor Department makes it tougher to classify gig workers as contractors

    I'd imagine these firms will start pitching drivers/shoppers on becoming LLCs and support this effort as value-added services. These new LLCs would then contract to Uber, Lyft, DoorDash, et al as businesses with tax benefits. This prior to the aspirational hope of what autonomous vehicles and other automation will bring.
  • Posted on: 04/07/2021

    Will shelf scanning robots put an end to out-of-stocks?

    I agree with this post.
  • Posted on: 04/07/2021

    Will shelf scanning robots put an end to out-of-stocks?

    Improved visibility/demand sensing in-store, enabled by intelligent automation, provides the deterministic data required to inform net new inventory policies and processes upstream. Helping to answer the question, what needs to change upstream to meet the aggregate needs we now see in-store.
  • Posted on: 04/07/2021

    Will shelf scanning robots put an end to out-of-stocks?

    We are in interesting times where retailers are having to more aggressively figure out how to get a tube of lip balm to a front door, instead of a pallet to a store. This is a deep structural change. In addition, an increase of minimum wage to $15 per hour is looming. In order to have the resource to apply to addressing immediate customer experience needs while also innovating forward, retailers need significant advances in productivity. I have been calling this transformational productivity. Shelf edge scanning robots can help with the immediate need of providing the inventory visibility required to support retailers in keeping brand promise for those shopping in-store and at home. Shelf edge robotics can also provide that productivity, which can be applied to customer service, BOPIS, store safety, and invested into innovation. Solution pricing has reached cost effectiveness, with a growing list of use cases to drive more value.
  • Posted on: 02/16/2021

    Will Nordstrom celebrate or regret its decision to give brands a lot more control?

    One response to disruption is to determine the high-value reason(s) why shoppers choose you. Double down on those high-value components, and begin to decouple lower-value ones. For many legacy brick and mortar retailers, their high-value rests in their real estate and their brand name. This move makes sense.

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