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: 12/14/2018

    H-E-B puts mobile scan and go tech in customers’ hands

    My bet is on the JWO technology. While the technology develops and the price comes down, there's an interim here where mobile scan and go is definitely viable. This is movement in the right direction for H-E-B. These days, you better start early or you'll never catch up.
  • Posted on: 12/12/2018

    Kraft Heinz ‘embraced failure’ in digital transformation

    The question weighs the classical chaos of innovation with the order of the established business. The corporate processes DO hold back new possibilities, but simultaneously (usually, not always) enable and empower the existing business. Combining the two effectively is the key to success for retailers & brands (plus really any business). One caveat on Nina's insightful key learnings thus far though ... versus a culture that celebrates failure, what about a culture that celebrates failure as much as they celebrate victory? I think Coach John Wooden said it best: “You can’t let praise or criticism get to you. It’s a weakness to get caught up in either one.” Show me a business culture that celebrates their people actually achieving their personal potential and I'll show you a successful business.
  • Posted on: 12/10/2018

    Will Dollar General’s DGX concept be a hit with urban Millennials?

    It will come down to design and experience. Millennials have just about unlimited retail choices from Amazon to Postmates delivery. Where it will matter is if DGX can create an experience (with technology being a piece of it) that speaks to the target consumer. I think Dollar General will be challenged to create that given their legacy culture. And it can be done with the right thinking from the right people.
  • Posted on: 12/04/2018

    Walmart gives associates a tool to deal with out-of-stocks

    Technology is only as good as the people who use it. Being well deployed is the key! Assuming it's a good product to begin with, success is driven by 1) customer experience (awareness, ease of engagement, etc.) and 2) employee training. If Walmart can solve for those two pieces, I think they have another winner.
  • Posted on: 11/28/2018

    Can customer lifetime value scores work against retailers?

    Agreed -- if retailers or brands are doing something around consumers, it should be transparent to consumers. The best part about this (as Nikki also highlights above) is that once information is available, consumers can and actually do participate. Nobody can play a game in which there are no rules. As thresholds and performance is outlined, consumers can know the game they're playing. (By the way, if retailers don't create a structure, consumers will create their own, likely not in service of the retailer -- find the cheapest price, etc.). Loyalty programs proved this 30+ years ago and new technology and new measurements make this stuff more important and effective than ever.
  • Posted on: 11/26/2018

    Will a radical transformation lift or sink IKEA?

    Radical transformation is necessary to be and stay a vibrant company. IKEA's moves are good ones as they continue to push the boundaries to see what else might be possible. The trick is to keep an effective balance between reinvention and the core business. Few have done so well as Amazon on that front with their "Day 1" mantra to serve as a constant reminder to reinvent themselves.
  • Posted on: 11/21/2018

    Will loyalty programs drive market share gains for Lyft or Uber?

    The competition is good. The loyalty programs (at least the detail around Uber Rewards) are unremarkable. Like most standard loyalty programs, there will be a lift in the beginning and then consumers will start to expect the rewards yielding minimal continued changes in behavior. It will work, but what's really possible with customer data and loyalty programs is developed by refreshing offers, rewards, experiences and ways to engage over time to keep the customer interested.
  • Posted on: 11/16/2018

    Apple-inspired Glossier opens ‘adult Disneyland’ flagship store

    It's all about experience and clearly Glossier understands that. Purchases are the result of the community, discovery and engagement trifecta with the brand. This is a brand that concerns itself more with the customer than the competition. With the customer as the focus, there's limitless growth potential. And I'm looking forward to seeing where this brand goes!
  • Posted on: 11/15/2018

    Will displaying produce by season set a new grocery concept apart from rivals?

    The idea has potential, but it's a long way from mainstream. Retail practices that take advantage of food realities (seasonality, perishability, etc.) ignored by the mainstream will continue to see opportunity. The opportunities may start as niche, such as Natoora catering to a more affluent Londoner crowd, but I think will catch on more broadly as consumers become more interested in their food.
  • Posted on: 11/13/2018

    Walmart puts AI to the test in an in-store lab

    A retailer with 50,000 SKUs requires 6x10^3600 calculations every week just to maximize revenue in the selection of weekly circular items. To put that in perspective, the visible universe is estimated to contain between 10^78 and 10^80 atoms. AI is capable of processing at scales that humans find hard to understand and are incapable of doing alone. The lowest hanging fruit (where it's already starting) is in very focused areas with defined problems/optimizations such as pricing and inventory management. Over time, AI is a game changer for all of the business areas above and more. It will literally transform business itself.
  • Posted on: 11/12/2018

    Why do Millennials love private label groceries so much?

    Millennials are attracted to value and experience. Good brands with good business practices and good prices are a natural. Private labels are no longer just knockoffs of national brands.
  • Posted on: 11/09/2018

    Retailers need to focus on customer lifetime value for long-term success

    CLV is absolutely necessary, but it's not successful without also looking at basket sizes, frequency and other more immediate metrics. It's not a "one without the other" scenario. By keeping an eye on BOTH the short game and the long game, retailers are able to limit any shortcomings of a singular approach. Immediate metrics keep operations going. CLV and other long-term metrics build longevity as a brand.
  • Posted on: 11/08/2018

    Will Walmart’s bring your own device policy work for it and its associates?

    This is a natural fit and it will more closely connect store associates to Walmart. Especially for the younger generation, this move will give them more ownership of the brand and the experience. As long as Walmart is subsidizing some of the cost and maintain appropriate privacy controls, I'd imagine it's a welcome change from the majority.
  • Posted on: 11/06/2018

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

    It is a great concept. I'm with Shawn that Facebook and partners are on to something here. It's markedly different than the Amazon juggernaut. And as customers are looking for new and unique products and experiences this holiday season, Facebook and Macy's fit the bill.
  • Posted on: 11/05/2018

    Did Amazon just crush Target and Walmart’s free holiday shipping moves?

    Maybe more of the same, but it's these market forces that will transform what shipping looks like. Everything from automated delivery to 3-D printing of products is looking at the costs here and looking to take a step into that space. This might be a short-term loss for retailers, but it's demanding a new paradigm in the not too distant future.

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