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: 02/15/2019

    eBay looks to lead a ‘retail revival’

    It's a great place for eBay to add some value and support current and potential customers. They're not the only option, but by offering support they're more likely to become the partner of choice.
  • Posted on: 02/14/2019

    America has too many retail stores

    There's this dichotomy of more stores closing than ever before in history at the same time as more stores opening than ever before in history. While the US is overstored, this isn't a function of locations. We've spent the better part of 100 years as an industry specifically putting stores around the people that buy stuff. It's how those stores are being used (in coordination with technology) to create a relevant consumer experience.
  • Posted on: 02/13/2019

    Retail leaders need to care more about tech

    The needed core competency here is the ability to grow, adjust and learn new things over time. Personally and as a business. The approach of "I've been running this operation for 30 years and I know how to do it" doesn't fly in a world changing as quickly as ours is; and the pace of change is only increasing. When the leadership can step into the unknown and be willing to try/learn/do something new, it starts to set a tone for a culture that's no longer just surviving, but actually growing.
  • Posted on: 02/11/2019

    Are apps and voice assistants the keys to e-grocery adoption?

    Technology doesn't hold the keys to the consumer kingdom; any technology (including ecommerce) should be the result. The result of creating a great, value-add consumer experience. Of course apps and voice assistants can (and probably should) play a role as long as it's a step towards a greater experience and not some end goal.
  • Posted on: 02/05/2019

    Walgreens tests tech that sort of recognizes you in-store

    I don't know if this really improves the shopping experience for customers... It's very cool looking and I imagine has a wow factor when you see it in person, but it looks expensive compared to the ROI over time. This essentially digitizes an existing process (a slightly better version of something we already have). If there's this kind of budget, what if Walgreens were to rethink the cooler experience altogether?
  • Posted on: 02/01/2019

    Shopper technology opportunities are the focus of FMI Midwinter

    I think a better question is: how can grocery retailers create a culture of innovation? Innovation that isn't just chasing the next promising technology, but built on serving their team, customers and community with technology (possibly) as the outcome. A constant perspective of only looking outside for what needs to be fixed, changed and adjusted is bankrupt.
  • Posted on: 01/31/2019

    Can Domino’s gain customers by offering free pizza for pies bought at rival shops?

    Reminds me of the Whopper Detour. For those already loyal to Domino's I don't see much of an impact. It should lead to more business from split shoppers and new customers downloading the app and collecting points though. Regardless, it will undoubtedly generate quite a lot of press.
  • Posted on: 01/29/2019

    New Foot Locker concept is powered by local culture

    I'm with Mark that this isn't necessarily about location, but experience. The idea of showcasing local artists, bringing in performers and speakers, and stepping into more of a community role will inevitably lead to additional sales. Considering that this is the 4th store with this format, I'd say it must be working.
  • Posted on: 01/25/2019

    Are NanoStores the new ultra-convenience stores?

    It is a logical step. And shoppers are going to need a little bit of education on how to engage with the NanoStore. It's a very smooth and sleek experience that might need to be staffed in the early days to help consumers learn how it all works (similar to how Amazon Go stores have someone standing upfront as you walk in). Soon enough though, I'm with Ralph that this format will become second nature to many.
  • Posted on: 01/24/2019

    Amazon takes multi-pronged approach to owning the last mile

    I think the title says it all: multi-pronged approach. And that's exactly the right approach to take from a retailer standpoint. There's such a variety of terrain, product sizes and consumer preferences there's undoubtedly going to be a number of successful autonomous delivery methods. Given the investment and interest in the space, the consumer is sure to be the winner in this game.
  • Posted on: 01/22/2019

    Will Amazon succeed with brand sampling rooted in machine learning?

    Amazon doesn't make many (any?) moves without the data to support it. I think they've found a sweet spot here to deliver more value to both consumers and the brands. And it does create a platform to compete, in some cases with Amazon's own brands. If Amazon creates fair competition by getting good products at good value in front of the consumers, let the best brand win. But Amazon doesn't always play fair.
  • Posted on: 01/17/2019

    NRF: Will grocers be ready for 2030’s smart future?

    Technology is inseparable from retail in the future and I think the future Kantar created here is spot on. But it’s the less relevant question to begin with. The bigger question is in the title, will grocers be ready? And some will be, not because of their technology, but because of their people. It’s those that can create cultures of innovation — that can pivot, adjust and change through the countless technology trends and emerging tools that will be part of commerce in the future.
  • Posted on: 01/09/2019

    Sephora adds choices and personalization to rewards program

    More personalization is a good thing. But ... this is a lot of general offers under the guise of personalization. A truly personalized program would only share the relevant promos to the right consumers at the right time, it would only give them the spend information they needed to add value or shift their behavior, and it wouldn't have program tiers because it's all run 1:1. I do think Sephora's program is a step in the right direction; however, technology today allows for so much more.
  • Posted on: 01/08/2019

    What’s holding back in-store mobile engagement?

    As an industry, we should be focused on a consistent brand experience across channels. But that also includes being focused on an integrated cross-channel shopper experience. Every single Amazon Go store shopper uses their phone to check in. Most people also use mobile for navigating the streets in their car. The technology is fully capable today to deliver experiences that meaningfully bring together the digital and physical worlds. It's up to us to build those valuable, meaningful experience into our stores.
  • Posted on: 01/04/2019

    Will PepsiCo’s robots replace the pizza delivery guy on college campuses?

    College campuses and other semi-private communities (company campuses, etc.) are a great place for robot deliveries to cut their teeth. Understanding usage and the broader interactions with humans in environments like these will give insights into how they might be used in more general public spaces. Every retailer and brand should be experimenting in this area -- with most all emerging tech, companies have to start early or they'll be left behind.

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