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: 04/20/2018

    What are retailers missing about building a workplace culture?

    100%. It's not just what gets done; it's who is doing it that matters and how they're showing up. The best strategy in the world doesn't turn into maximum results without a culture that supports that kind of performance. Busy doesn't equal productive. Refocusing on what really matters and aligning culture around it can make all the difference.
  • Posted on: 04/19/2018

    How will Amazon replace Whole Foods’ rewards program?

    Good loyalty programs gather, understand and use customer data to create experiences and drive behavior -- something Amazon is an expert at. I have no doubt that Amazon working through the back-end of bringing Prime into Whole Foods to both drive larger baskets from existing customers as well as acquire new customers. Driving synergies across the business makes good sense and I'm sure will provide new value for the shoppers and the bottom line.
  • Posted on: 04/18/2018

    Best Buy and Amazon expand their coopetition

    I like that increased competition is driving better consumer experiences through cooperation. There's no stopping Amazon and Best Buy's strategy of staying close is the right one as long as they stay laser focused on where they're providing unique value.
  • Posted on: 04/17/2018

    Meijer works to keep up with Kroger and Walmart with ‘Shop & Scan’ tech

    We live in a world today where private companies are regularly shooting rockets into space and vehicles can drive autonomously. It's 2018 and it's time for the traditional front-end of retail to be disrupted. Meijer is taking a great step here; however, it's an incremental improvement and somewhat necessary given the competitive landscape. Amazon Go and checkout-less checkouts is the future and anything else is just an interim measure.
  • Posted on: 04/16/2018

    Dyson believes in showroom stores

    The options for what to buy and how to buy it are endless and curating an experience around the customer is a differentiator. While showrooms specifically are more appropriate for higher end products, it's a lesson for all of retail that focusing on experience is necessary regardless of your vertical these days.
  • Posted on: 04/13/2018

    Will electric vehicles prove a bane or a boon for c-stores and energy drinks?

    CPG distribution will be transformed long before the convenience store "problem" becomes a problem. And it is worth thinking ahead to see what might be possible. Electric vehicles still need to be charged. The opportunities that open up from that in terms of new formats and distribution points far outweighs the risk. Especially now.
  • Posted on: 04/11/2018

    What makes a successful retail CEO?

    That's a fantastic point, Lyle: great CEOs enroll others in fulfilling a new view of the future. Focusing on purely operations will result in a slightly better version of what the company is already doing. Breakthrough results come from new visions of the future. No CEO can do it alone and their ability to empower others with that vision is what really makes a difference.
  • Posted on: 04/10/2018

    Barnes & Noble’s crowdsourcing app engages readers and earns solid reviews

    No one thing will work for everyone. Browsery sounds like a good app strategy that has content and engagement for a critical mass to make it worthwhile. It's a good model for other retailers to look to; however, it shouldn't be the only play.
  • Posted on: 04/09/2018

    Is Walmart building a tower of power with its expanding in-store pickup network?

    It's also a reason to shop with Walmart in the first place. While I do agree that there's less likelihood of Walmart Tower shoppers picking up additional items while there, I think Walmart's approach is the right one: a sale is a sale and the more ways to leverage technology, convenience and service will payoff. Will be interesting to see how the rest of their store footprint evolves accordingly.
  • Posted on: 04/05/2018

    Retailers push to onboard tech talent

    Traditional retailers are having to become software companies in order to compete. The catch is that their cultures are simply not geared for the fast pace possible with technology development or the employee expectations that go along with it. There's no question that most retailers are behind the curve (by a lot). Acquiring talent that understands experience and customer needs, be it store associates or software developers, is unchanged.
  • Posted on: 04/04/2018

    Should retailers lower expectations around last-mile delivery?

    Amazon is writing the rules right now. Low- or no-fee shipping cost them billions last year and few others can make that kind of investment. While every retailer needs button up shipping to be as fast and reliable as possible, they also need to be experimenting with new tools that let them change the game vs. simply going head to head.
  • Posted on: 04/03/2018

    Why are there so many employees in a cashier-less store?

    This is a perfect example of technology being used for what it's good at (repetitive, monotonous tasks) and people supporting in areas they're good at (talking with other people and more dynamic tasks). What store wouldn't benefit from a few more people on the floor instead of just being there to check you out? A lot of these emerging technologies actually enable us to be more human. Amazon is not only learning a lot, but they'll start rolling out the best tech and best practices.
  • Posted on: 04/02/2018

    Starbucks shifts happy hour to invite-only

    It's not just about saving the money, it's about the consumer getting a deal. It works for airlines, supermarkets, credit cards and restaurants — it will work for Starbucks too. The more email addresses, app downloads and app opens they have, the more chances they have to communicate with their customer to drive brand building and sales from outside their four walls. The move to make a general promotion one that will both drive deeper engagements and support workability with employees is a good one.
  • Posted on: 03/30/2018

    Can gamification solve fashion’s mix and match challenges?

    Gamification alone isn't enough, but where it adds to or enhances the customer experience is a win. I'm with Vineet; that website and return data is too late. If this is a tool that consumers are finding value in and at the same time provides valuable data before purchases I can see it working for all involved.
  • Posted on: 03/27/2018

    Where is the shopping opportunity with voice commerce?

    Voice will continue to grow and consumers will continue to adopt it as the quality of the experience improves. Integrating it with other technologies will be part of the enhancements. Personalization will support voice surfacing relevant information and offers. IoT in the household may support reordering reminders. And even mobile or other screens can pick up the experience when it becomes too much for just voice. Looking at voice alone is a mistake; it's about the holistic experience for the shopper of which voice is an (important and growing) part.

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