Lance Thornswood

Sr Director, Omnichannel, JCPenney

Lance Thornswood is highly experienced in retail innovation, brand marketing, and analytics-driven strategies; a creative innovator in design thinking, aesthetics and high-impact execution; and a visionary leader of start-up and turnaround businesses for several global brands. He spent 12 years working with Target, first as’s Creative Director on the agency side, then in-house as the first leader of Target’s Interactive Marketing department, later launching Target India Marketing and Target’s Global Photography operation.

Lance’s leadership engages high-potential people and activates them into highly successful teams. His analytical strengths guide him to identify and bring out the best in individuals while his solid business vision unites and drives teams towards a shared goal. His extraordinary leadership is exemplified in JCPenney’s Project Mercury, which revolutionized the retailer’s mobile business. This was a critical priority project for FY2014 with the primary goal of creating a mobile commerce website and iOS app in an extremely-tight timeframe: he led the product team from start to launch in just 87 days. Project Mercury delivered big, with comparative sales over 100%, and was a major part of the successful turnaround for the 100-year-old retailer’s business.

A well-respected executive strategist for brands like JCPenney, Target, Sears, L.L. Bean and Apple, Lance’s skillset includes product management, user experience design and software development of several eCommerce and content-marketing platforms, including iOS and Android native apps and responsive-adaptive web. In bringing together the in-store and online experience across many of the biggest names in retail, Lance Thornswood has helped define omnichannel retail excellence. He is a trusted leader, thoughtful strategic analyst, creative innovator and expert mentor with proven results, whose mission is to improve the quality of people’s lives through technology and great design.

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Lance’s blog

  • Posted on: 07/11/2016

    Will drop-off points boost online sales?

    Initially, I see this mostly as a customer benefit. Perhaps as adoption grows, carriers may see benefits of scale by doing batch drop-offs instead of driving to every single household. While drop-offs aren't for every customer, I know a number of people in urban and suburban settings who now use them almost exclusively for their e-commerce purchases. The convenience of dropping by a FedEx Office or UPS Store retail location in the evening after work or on the weekend is a major plus for busy households where someone can't always be home to sign for a package during regular delivery hours and who don't want packages sitting unattended. Perhaps retailers and carriers should partner to promote lockers and pickup points with promotional pricing or speedier delivery times. I believe by encouraging more trial, we can help consumers learn the distinct benefit of getting their packages anytime—not just when the delivery driver knocks on the door.
  • Posted on: 05/23/2016

    Finding the right balance between automation and people

    It's all about adding value to the customer experience. Automate those things that don't add significant experience value (or those for which automation can actually improve the experience). Then focus your people on doing things that do the most to create a delightful customer experience. Starbucks has nailed an essential automation win with the order function in their apps. They found their store capacity was limited by a key pinch-point: POS time was driving long, unpleasant wait times in line. By allowing customers to place their own, highly-customizable orders, consumers discover new options, get exactly what they want, and the lines get much shorter. Hopefully that means the baristas can take an extra moment to say hello and give you a genuine smile. Hamburger-making robots aren't the answer — even though I'd love to see C-3PO ask, "Would you like fries with that?"
  • Posted on: 05/23/2016

    Are the new overtime rules a ‘career killer’ for retail workers?

    This may be unpopular with some of my industry colleagues and peers, but I hope it may be the kick in the butt we need to start shifting our industry away from the mentality of "low prices at any cost." In the U.S. we're trained to buy only the lowest-priced option, to shop at only the lowest-priced stores, and to ruthlessly cut costs so we can achieve the lowest possible prices. This mentality comes at a significant cost to workers whose pay is cut to the bone and who are constantly asked to do more with less. It also drives compromises in quality of the goods we're buying and leads to some very questionable practices, IMHO. I'm reassured that Millennials seed more willing for quality goods, seeing quality as a key factor in the value of a product — and not just focusing on the lowest possible price as the single measure of good value. I firmly believe "you get what you pay for" and that you also value those things for which you pay more. It's high time we pay for happier, better-paid workers who can afford basic living expenses for themselves and their families. It's definitely in the best interest of our economy and security.
  • Posted on: 05/23/2016

    Will consumers prefer a virtual reality department store to the real thing?

    Replicating the physical store experience in VR creates more problems than it solves. Why use a new medium to replicate the adjacency challenges that already exist on a physical store floor or a the typical eCommerce product grid? We need to use VR to solve a set of customer and/or retailer problems more effectively than those problems are being solved in other channels. What if VR could help a customer navigate all the dimensions of apparel attributes in newer, faster, more engaging way? That would be a big win. I'd love to be the one to solve that UX/CX challenge!
  • Posted on: 05/20/2016

    Shoptalk recap: Are stores flying or dying?

    Having worked in organizations run by both Ron Johnson and Jerry Storch, I have a lot of respect for both, but I've got to side with Jerry on this one. I don't see brick and mortar dying: the physical store is adapting to a new reality where the vast number transactions are now influenced by digital — and where brick-and-mortar still has a very vital role in displaying product, enabling face-to-face customer interaction, warehousing & fulfillment, and, oh yeah, also selling merchandise directly to consumers who can take it home right then and there. Cool, right? 10 years ago it may have looked like eCommerce v. Brick-and-Mortar, but now it's the synergistic experience of both that will define retail success going forward. We should come up with a new way to talk about that combination. I dunno, maybe we could call it "omnichannel" for like, all channels working together. Just throwing it out there...
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