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. 

Speaking & Investment:
  • Posted on: 08/16/2018

    Got truck drivers?

    I'm with Charles here that there's a structural change happening and retailers would be wise to have the necessary technologies in place. I was talking with my Uber driver in Austin the other day who was formerly a truck driver. His wife thought he was crazy to leave trucking until he started making more than twice the income driving an Uber. Given, he drives a crazy amount of hours a week, but he gets to come home to his family at the end of it every single day. With more gig options for drivers and autonomous technology on the horizon, the future of shipping will look very different than it does today.
  • Posted on: 08/14/2018

    ‘Less is more’ when competing with Amazon

    Curation and personalization is important regardless of who is making the products. It's about knowing your customer and their wants at both an aggregate and individual level. Like the saying goes, you can't be everything to everybody. Retailers can and should be curating the right kinds of products, promotions and experiences to better service their customers.
  • Posted on: 08/13/2018

    Can AR help shoppers get where they need to go?

    I don't know if a whole fun-house AR layer makes sense in most places. There are definitely some basic directional and informational uses here consumers would find valuable though. We somehow manage to find our way around while texting/emailing (some better than others, naturally). If we can find where we're going or more information about products, AR adds something to the equation.
  • Posted on: 08/10/2018

    Party City to run pilot with Amazon, ‘the world’s largest and most trafficked mall’

    If they're accompanying the idea to sell on Amazon with a strategy to move newly acquired customers back to Party City, then I think it's an ok move. Smarter if the costumes they sell on Amazon are Party City brand. Harrison is playing with fire here. Toys "R" Us learned the hard way years ago. I'm not saying that it's a bad strategy for Party City right now; it's that Amazon has all the power the equation.
  • Posted on: 08/08/2018

    Report says voice commerce is all talk

    Xerox thought the personal computer wouldn't amount to much in 1960.
  • Posted on: 08/06/2018

    Walmart looks to automate grocery pick-up

    The great thing about these smart automation technologies is that they can be leveraged across several functions. Grocery pickup is the first step, but it's a natural to see this same infrastructure support online delivery fulfillment. Emerging technologies are letting us break down barriers of traditionally separated business silos to increase efficiencies and ultimately vastly improve the customer experience.
  • Posted on: 08/03/2018

    Will in-home 3D scanner drive online clothing sales?

    The potential is massive! But the technology and cost is a significant barrier to adoption. The value proposition will likely have to be strengthened (more value for fewer dollars) before this achieves any meaningful results.
  • Posted on: 08/02/2018

    Wayfair to open its first brick & mortar store

    The problem has never been the physical stores -- it's how those stores service the customer (enabled by tech) that makes a difference. Wayfair is joining a long list of eCommerce players that have decided to open stores because omnichannel (or, unified channel) makes all the sense in the world. Stores create the opportunity for experiences that connect far beyond what's available online. We'll continue to see more of this from Wayfair and others as the synergy between online and off continues to grow.
  • Posted on: 08/01/2018

    Zara bets on faster deliveries from stores to boost online growth

    Store fulfillment is super smart, assuming the logistics and processes are buttoned up. Shorter delivery times only matter if the shipping is accurate. I'm with Doug here that it's not a silver bullet, but it is certainly a relevant direction for most retail verticals.
  • Posted on: 07/31/2018

    Walmart still trying to figure out home delivery

    Order fulfillment will be in flux for some time as autonomous delivery and other innovation continues to disrupt the space. I think the general approach here of trying different services, models and technologies is the right one on the path to coming up with a workable (profitable) mix. I don't know if there will be only one winner in grocery delivery competition; however, retailers need to play to have a shot at the title.
  • Posted on: 07/30/2018

    Does Five Below make sense for 5th Ave?

    There's an interesting convergence of style and discount that goes beyond Target. Consumers are diverse and I can see a Fifth Ave. mix that includes upscale chains and bargain hunting appealing to shoppers across the board.
  • Posted on: 07/26/2018

    Study: Online retailers losing billions in sales to out-of-stocks

    I'm with you, Ralph. Technically, this should be a relatively easy problem to solve with all the technology and tools available today. The majority of supply chain is predictions and handling repetitive tasks. As technology can take on more and more of those roles, humans can go back to supporting customers and more custom interactions.
  • Posted on: 07/25/2018

    Lessons from Comic-Con – the world’s biggest pop-up store

    It's about the experience -- and the community that forms around it. Comic-Con has built this brilliantly and there's not a retailer out there that couldn't get something from them. I imagine the employees are having some fun with it as well, which turns the whole thing into a virtuous circle creating value.
  • Posted on: 07/24/2018

    Is robotic micro-fulfillment the path to streamlined grocery pickup?

    There's definitely the opportunity for retailers to continue to build out the in-store experience. And there's also room for a more efficient solution that potentially covers only a subset of staple items. If there's a surplus of labor hours, I'd much rather see retailers putting that into customer service and experience training. When people engage the human factor it ends up serving everyone.
  • Posted on: 07/23/2018

    McDonald’s offers free fries for mobile orders

    This is a good idea for McDonald's, but it isn't just about mobile ordering. It's about opening up a near real-time communication channel with customers. Being digitally connected with customers creates the groundwork to merge online and in-store experiences more seamlessly in the future.

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