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.  Blog: Business: Speaking & Investment:
  • Posted on: 10/16/2019

    Does Target need to address its associate morale problem?

    Team morale is everything and it translates directly into customer experience in store. If the employees aren't happy, customers will be less happy over time. Of course Target has to make smart business decisions, but with the cuts store managers should be granted some autonomy to take care of individual employees as needed to keep morale high. Communication is the most important thing here so everyone on the team feels part of the conversation, not at the effects of it.
  • Posted on: 10/15/2019

    Will customers give Walmart the keys to their homes?

    Privacy is culture and it changes over time. 15 years ago it would be ludicrous to post all our family pictures and trips online; now it's almost standard. I expect we'll see that same thing over time for these kinds of services. Is the value exchange worthwhile? Consumers will increasingly answer: yes.
  • Posted on: 10/10/2019

    Personalized promos add up to a ‘win-win’ for retailers and consumers

    Personalized pricing is inevitable. We see it in our credit card rates, our airline tickets and increasingly we see it as a standard in retail. Done right, not only do the economics work, but it's a better customer experience all around.
  • Posted on: 10/09/2019

    REI opens outdoor adventure gateway concept

    This is a great idea! And the next step in experiential retail. Not something contrived to create an "experience" but a real place consumers can launch their experiences from. It adds a lot of value for consumers and I'm willing to bet this concept will be successful for REI.
  • Posted on: 10/07/2019

    Best Buy makes a big bet on health tech

    I think it's a good move for two reasons: 1. There's a significant and growing need and 2. Technology and services can fit that need in new and innovative ways. Establishing themselves as an early entrant into the new senior tech + services market builds relationships with customers that have a high switching cost (as your data, support and knowledge will already be with Best Buy).
  • Posted on: 09/25/2019

    Are smart carts a smarter way to ‘Just Walk Out’?

    The context that these are/are not adopted under is what matters. I don't think there's a silver bullet tech that is the answer for everyone. The company, stores, customer base, etc. all factor in to what technology will work and be accepted. This approach will certainly be viable for some retailers. More broadly, all retailers need to rethink the checkout process as it's ripe for disruption given tech capabilities today.
  • Posted on: 09/23/2019

    Will free same-day delivery boost Macy’s online sales?

    There's little to be gained in playing another company's game. I think Macy's will have some minor wins when it comes to launching free same day delivery. And it could be worth doing. But Macy's would find more benefit in finding themselves in terms of their core value proposition to the customer beyond what everyone else is already doing.
  • Posted on: 09/12/2019

    In power move, Walmart expands Delivery Unlimited

    It's great to finally see a full resurgence of the physical store. We've specifically been putting stores around people that buy things for the better part of 100 years. Why not use them most effectively? Store design will continue to evolve, but for Walmart to roll this out so broadly they must have seen performance that really resonated. I don't know if it's going to draw customers from competitors, but it does open up the opportunity to their entire customer base so more people (perhaps not formally doing much ordering online) will take part.
  • Posted on: 09/06/2019

    Starbucks developing new store dedicated to pickup and delivery orders

    The experimentation here is what's important. There's a general acknowledgment that things are changing and Starbucks is out in front creating what that change might look like for them and their customers. I don't think there's a single answer for all retailers/foodservice operators regarding pickup/delivery, but there are a variety of new things that might work depending on the operator, region and customer base.
  • Posted on: 09/03/2019

    Will H&M’s ambassador program turn employees into social influencers?

    Developing a culture that starts to generate ideas and fashion from the inside is a good plan. And doing it over time is even better. As these new influencers are able to express themselves through the brand it will breathe excitement and life into the whole organization (and of course shoppers). Of course, if the brand tries to express itself through the people it'll be a non-starter. It's a fine line, but certainly doable. I think other retailers are watching to see how it's done...
  • Posted on: 08/29/2019

    Why ‘radical self-inquiry’ can create a thriving workplace

    No question. To have innovative companies you need innovative leaders, those that look to transform themselves in order to support what the company and team needs as it evolves. It's very likely that those things that work in the beginning (of a career or of a company) will become detrimental if they become immovable and fixed later on. The only constant is change. And it requires a big person (a grown up person as coach Jerry would say) to be able to handle that over time.
  • Posted on: 08/28/2019

    Innovation: Are retailers trying to do too much?

    Innovation is a significant positive change -- could be technological, but it could also be in team performance, financials or customer service. It comes from thinking and then doing things in a new way (vs. how we've already done it. Brian is right on here -- keeping up with consumer adoption isn't innovation. Merging online and offline isn't in and of itself innovation. Having a "innovation group" isn't actually innovation. But they're all mediums to potentially innovate. We have lost our way as an industry. This isn't about the technology. It's about using technology and developing our businesses to meet the needs of human beings. The only assurance we have about the future is that it will be different. The best thing a retailer can do is to develop their teams, their culture to be one that can support change over time to meet those customer needs ever more efficiently and effectively.
  • Posted on: 08/26/2019

    Is it time for retailers to create a tech strategy for pop-up shops?

    If we're asking the question, the answer is most definitely yes. Consumers have a high bar when it comes to experience -- and they should given all that's available today. As retailers we need to make sure we engage (or develop) the appropriate solutions to support that.
  • Posted on: 08/09/2019

    Amazon adds personal shopping to Prime Wardrobe

    The key to Amazon is their relentless pursuit of change. This is probably a good move for Amazon, but it's not an end game. I'm sure they're going to continue to evaluate their progress into fashion and continue to iterate. One move isn't likely to make a dramatic difference. However, continuous evaluations/adjustments over time do.
  • Posted on: 08/08/2019

    Will the next big thing since Starbucks be run by robots?

    I don't think there's any question that robotics will play a more prominent role in coffee and foodservice in the future. But that doesn't mean humans aren't ever involved -- it starts to free people up to focus on things that humans are just better at: customer interaction, developing the experiences around the robots, etc. The unrelenting march of technology will continue on. It's up to us to make sure we're using them to improve human experiences, not just replace them.

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