PROFILE

Karen Wong

Co-Founder & CEO, TakuLabs Ltd.

Karen Wong is a retail strategist and thought-leader on operations innovation and leveraging data for growth. An avid entrepreneur, Karen has 15+ years of experience running ventures in Canada and East Asia. As a founder of both ACE POS Solutions Ltd. and TakuLabs Ltd., her passion is developing technology to help retailers easily scale their businesses across all channels. Her companies currently work with more than 6,000 retailers in North America and are building out next generation unified commerce solutions to help retail chain stores move to the cloud and allow merchants to use their own data to sell more.

Karen is proud to work together with local schools and universities to offer internships and mentoring to tomorrow’s marketing and IT leaders. Karen is a voracious reader and tech enthusiast always looking for new approaches to problem solving.

To learn more, visit: takulabs.io

Karen Wong is a retail strategist and thought-leader on operations innovation and leveraging data for growth. An avid entrepreneur, Karen has 15+ years of experience running ventures in Canada and East Asia. As a founder of both ACE POS Solutions Ltd. and TakuLabs Ltd., her passion is developing technology to help retailers easily scale their businesses across all channels. Her companies currently work with more than 6,000 retailers in North America and are building out next generation unified commerce solutions to help retail chain stores move to the cloud and allow merchants to use their own data to sell more. Karen is proud to work together with local schools and universities to offer internships and mentoring to tomorrow’s marketing and IT leaders. Karen is a voracious reader and tech enthusiast always looking for new approaches to problem solving.
  • VIEW ARTICLES
  • VIEW COMMENTS
  • Posted on: 01/14/2021

    What leadership lessons have retailers learned during the pandemic?

    When it comes to retail tech, flexibility has an outsized impact on resilience. Systems need to be architected loose enough so that they can be adapted to the strategies required at any given time.
  • Posted on: 01/14/2021

    Will contactless Hudson Nonstop concept stores take off in airports?

    Airports are ideal for this type of solution. Not only does it eliminate security clearance risks, it allows retailers to sell 24/7 whenever flights are scheduled which isn't possible today. I would be curious to know what the peak load is though and whether the technology today can handle the type of traffic airports can see during peak travel periods once people start traveling again.
  • Posted on: 01/08/2021

    Shopify dumps Trump’s stores from its platform

    Nobody can ever please everybody, but you need to know who your customers are. In this case, there is good reason to believe that Shopify would have taken heat for doing nothing just as social media platforms have. After all, Shopify is an e-commerce platform with built-in marketing features so there is an amplifying factor. At the same time, it wasn't surprising really given how e-commerce platforms, ad platforms and payment gateways already restrict high-risk products or sectors these days.
  • Posted on: 12/17/2020

    Is the pandemic pushing livestream shopping into the mainstream?

    I've seen firsthand the potential of livestreaming for retailers in Asia where it is now a key sales channel but we have a long way to go as:
    • Smartphone usage in every day life is nowhere near as broad as it is in Asia where they leapfrogged desktop computers for personal computing;
    • There aren't enough experienced livestreamers yet;
    • Retailers would need to eventually upgrade their technical skills to produce quality sessions and integrate their commerce systems to livestreaming platforms.
    Until the technology usage and comfort level is there on both ends, I would expect livestreaming to grow rapidly but only with certain sectors targeting specific demographics. Discretionary, especially luxury discretionary goods would be ideal. I know that many bridal shops have been able to leverage livestreaming in place of traditional trunkshows this year as a result of the pandemic.
  • Posted on: 12/15/2020

    What if Barnes & Noble had produced ‘The Queen’s Gambit’?

    The idea of retail as entertainment is compelling but given the cost of long-format content, I would lean more towards TikTok-like content or even livestreaming as they do in China to leverage the power of engaging media.
  • Posted on: 12/15/2020

    The scalpers who stole Christmas

    I've been in the market for a console for my nephew and needless to say, he will be sadly disappointed this year. Wish there was a way for me to post the Twitter posts I screenshot off of the Walmart Canada account. Definitely a poor customer experience for shoppers. I'm surprised Walmart or any of the other players haven't taken a page out of the viral DTC brands that launch mega campaigns online. When I bought a gift for a friend during the Fenty skincare launch, they had a queue feature that allowed online shoppers know their estimated wait time and keep their place as long as they stayed connected. Waited 10 minutes, worked like a charm even at the peak of the launch period. If bots are a concern, surely it would be possible to add a standard captcha-like validation prior to entering the queue.
  • Posted on: 12/04/2020

    Will Gen Z be the ‘most disruptive generation ever’ for retail and brand marketers?

    The stereotypes of each generation are merely generalizations that can help guide retailers when taken with a grain of salt. The concern I have is that retailers often plan for each generation too late. Unless you're planning to sell only to one generation during a specific stage in their lives, you either have to grow with them or adapt for the next generation of shoppers. Yes, some mass retailers are cross-generational but that's still rare for the average brand.
  • Posted on: 12/02/2020

    Will ending minimum purchases turn Walmart+ into a serious Amazon Prime rival?

    If taking market share is the objective it makes sense but it's likely that Walmart will pay a heavier price on the bottom line vs. Amazon given the difference between their core customer base. And no minimum free shipping isn't the key value proposition it used to be with Amazon.
  • Posted on: 11/30/2020

    Was Black Friday a bust?

    The number of Black Five-Day sales I've seen this year aren't surprising and frankly a smart way to avoid frenzy both in-store and online during a pandemic. Pricing competition across the board is another story ... Again, understandable during a horrible year but one that will have significant "pantry-stocking" consequences for those shoppers that can afford to pick up the rock-bottom deals this year.
  • Posted on: 11/17/2020

    Will Amazon’s new online pharmacy disrupt the U.S. drugstore business?

    While some pharmacies have invested in technology, this sector hasn't fundamentally changed in a long time. No doubt Amazon Pharmacy will have strong adoption, but I'd be concerned about the concentration of consumer data in one company.
  • Posted on: 11/11/2020

    What makes a great retail store manager?

    It's definitely an increasingly complex role now. People skills will always be foremost when managing teams and customer service but today's retail store managers need a certain level of skill with technology and must be open to constant change. I've seen too many stores where the store managers aren't willing to upgrade technology because they don't understand new sales channels. You don't need to know how to execute everything but you can't manage what you don't understand.
  • Posted on: 11/11/2020

    Are grocers downplaying curbside pickup at their own expense?

    As the article said there are so many factors involved - location, the layout of the store/parking, the breakdown of products sold, proximity of pickup to checkout, the demographics of the clientele. Most merchants went with the fastest-to-implement option when the pandemic started. The smart ones will re-visit this post-holidays to optimize for efficiency and profitability.
  • Posted on: 11/09/2020

    What will President Joe Biden mean for retail?

    As an outsider looking in, I'd say Biden is more likely to benchmark against best practices elsewhere. We are 8 months into the pandemic now and there are successful examples of policy around the world. Not every example is transferrable, but it helps to look outside of the box. Similarly, this is hopefully a return to social compromise and unified messaging. I remember hearing a podcast where the speaker was saying that there are generally 2 different types of people when it comes to the pandemic -- "those who are concerned and pull back on activity" and "those we don't believe prevention is possible." She was actually skeptical of the efficacy of certain preventative policies, but she accepted that for any economy to function, you need as many of both of these people to participate as possible. And so, she was willing to wear a mask, for example, if only to make those who are afraid more willing to come out to participate in the economy again. Until there is a reliable treatment or vaccine for COVID-19, sustainable recovery can't happen if a significant percentage of people are in shelter-mode. A presidency that can explain preventative policy in a more unifying way that is acceptable to all sides would be a welcome return to the predictable, stable government administration that businesses thrive under.
  • Posted on: 11/06/2020

    Can virtual working move beyond clumsy Zoom calls?

    If Asia is any indicator, we will willingly embrace new technology that increases efficiency and engagement with our communities. Even for my own company I’m seeing a hybrid as those with families lean into 100 percent WFH while all of our single or younger staff prefer some in-person engagement at the office. At this point my concern is making sure that we’re able to build flexible resilience cost-effectively in my own company processes just as I’m doing for my customers.
  • Posted on: 11/03/2020

    Will Walmart’s decision to scrap robots have far-ranging effects?

    It's an interesting balance. Only those large enough have the scale to use robots but these same retailers are often big enough to have their own picking teams for online fulfillment from store. If the scale is there, I still believe that online fulfillment is more efficient with dark stores or direct from warehouses (DC or in-store) where the use of robots is ideal e.g. Ocado. It was different when e-commerce was an insignificant % of sales but the loading and merchandising of customer-facing shelves for a large volume of internal order picking drives me crazy.

Contact Karen

  • Apply to be a BrainTrust Panelist

  • Please briefly describe your qualifications — specifically, your expertise and experience in the retail industry.
  • By submitting this form, I give you permission to forward my contact information to designated members of the RetailWire staff.

    See RetailWire's privacy policy for more information about what data we collect and how it is used.