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: 06/20/2018

    CVS looks to one-up Walgreens, other rivals with nationwide Rx deliveries

    Retail is becoming a brand new game and I agree that CVS didn't have much of a choice to remain competitive. Having a delivery solution will be necessary and ultimately will increase customer loyalty and sales (even though it may sacrifice footfalls). It's a move to catch up, but a good move nonetheless.
  • Posted on: 06/19/2018

    Best Buy makes health and wellness tech a strategic priority

    Mark is on to something here. As more and more tech is built around our wellbeing, the more important it will become. It is smart for Best Buy to position themselves as the go-to solution to keep it all working.
  • Posted on: 06/18/2018

    Microsoft exploring checkout-less technologies

    Survey says: yes! Shoppers will inevitably move to faster, easier (and cheaper) options. It is just a matter of time before this it widely available. And I think it's smart for Microsoft and a number of other startups to be stepping into the space. It's so new there are likely a few ways to coming at it (cameras in ceiling, on carts, etc.) that will achieve an effective end result.
  • Posted on: 06/14/2018

    Reasons you’re afraid of retail sales training and what to do about It

    Most people do automatically resist change. Supporting them to embrace and create change is a massive underlying skill set for any training that's to come. I'm with Bob that it takes getting acquainted with the uncomfortable in a never ending mission to create something better. To do that, managers and leadership have to set the example to make it safe for the whole organization to do the same.
  • Posted on: 06/12/2018

    Should retailers incentivize store staff to accept digital transformation?

    Change causes upset. Creating a culture that supports employees embracing and even creating change is step one (and is even more important as innovation accelerates at an increasing rate). Step two is more about developing the skills necessary to operate in a digital world. As employees can see both the "how to" as well as the benefit to the business, shoppers and themselves, the transformation can become more natural.
  • Posted on: 06/11/2018

    Are retailers short-changing national grocery brands?

    Retailers should strive to create programs that serve a customer need. There's not a one size that fits all strategy here. Loblaws' PC brand stands out as one that emphasizes quality and story vs. price. Costco also does a nice job with their brand. Whatever the case, a retailer's private label positioning should be clear to the shopper to help them understand the value and how it fits into their shopping experience.
  • Posted on: 06/08/2018

    Retailers told to forget social media

    There has to be an intention and purpose behind any social media beyond a certain number of followers or likes. And how that intention plays out may vary by channel. Vat19 is a great example of that with Youtube working really well and the other channels lacking. I'm in agreement that social media isn't "necessary" for all businesses, but it can be a valuable and effective channel.
  • Posted on: 06/06/2018

    Macy’s taps staff for their influencer clout

    I think Dick is right: Macy's has to balance authenticity with the brand message in a way that works for all the parties and is effective within the influencer's network. I think the objectivity will work, especially with the assortment a department store offers. Just as long as the influencer stays true with their posts.
  • Posted on: 06/05/2018

    Is data-driven marketing holding back storytelling?

    They're two sides of the same coin. Data is an abstraction of what's actually happening and storytelling can be an abstraction of the human experience. Storytelling is something that's deeply ingrained in people and it powers a company's culture. Redirecting storytelling in a purposeful way can not only free up the creatives and data-execs in marketing functions, but transform company culture.
  • Posted on: 06/04/2018

    Retailers can make personalization work

    Consumers want value. It can be in the form of low price, experience, personalization, etc. The difference is that low price is a commodity. It's only inside the world of personalization and experience that retailers can create some differentiation to compete. Modern AI (different than algorithms) can create some variety allowance to add to that value over time. AI will play a larger and larger role in these decisions (think AI-powered businesses) over time and the sooner retailers can start with the technology the farther ahead of the curve they'll be. Personalization is a great place for them to start.
  • Posted on: 06/01/2018

    Walmart’s newest service brings texting and personal shopping together

    Walmart takes another step forward with this for sure. The experience-based tech makes it more about the shopper than it is about price. I'd even expect non-traditional Walmart shoppers to join as they hear about the service from family or friends. Other retailers can look to Walmart as an example of how to move a traditional retail operation to actually innovate.
  • Posted on: 05/30/2018

    MealPal brings subscription savings to lunch

    Convenience and good price is a winning combination for sure and MealPal will continue to grow with it. The only consumer drawback is that the meals aren't delivered, which might be cured in the future as more and more delivery is automated in some shape or form. For restaurants, the only way it works is if it's truly incremental business that's not prepared at a loss.
  • Posted on: 05/29/2018

    Kohl’s emphasizes cash in merging of rewards program

    A needed adjustment; Kohl's is going in the right direction by creating a universal program and simplifying the components. No one marketing incentive works for everyone -- having several available throughout the same program casts a wider net that Kohl's should see some positive results from. Their elite member status is especially well done in creating a specific spend threshold (not percentage) customers need to achieve to join. It gives customers something to shoot for and Kohl's something very tangible to manage.
  • Posted on: 05/24/2018

    Kroger to become meal kit force with Home Chef deal

    I’m with Dave. Different things appeal to different people and Kroger is taking steps in the right direction to accommodate them.
  • Posted on: 05/23/2018

    Best Buy’s Geek Squad is now available by subscription

    And even though it covers electronics not necessarily purchased from Best Buy, there'll be a payoff here as that "sticky-factor" grows over time. Members will look to Best Buy for new purchases since they'll hold the keys for making it all work together.

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