PROFILE

Shawn Harris

Board Advisor, Light Line Delivery

Shawn is a global strategy and business development leader in the enterprise retail technology space. He helps retailers navigate the ever-changing retail landscape, providing thought leadership, pragmatic insights, and innovative solutions on issues pertaining to the implications of Artificial Intelligence for business strategy, customer experience, inventory visibility, and staff productivity. As the “tip of the spear” for customers, Shawn also drives product needs and prioritization, the “what” and “why,” back in to engineering.

Shawn led North American go to market launch for Zebra Technologies’ Robotics Automation business unit in North America, and Zebra’s AI powered sensor fusion platform SmartLens. Shawn’s passion rests in meeting the needs of customers; through integrating human-centered thinking, with brick-and-mortar and digital retail technology. Shawn has been involved with store systems, ecommerce, and order management technologies for 20 years, having held leadership positions in, or consulted to, numerous Tier -1 retailers including, TJX Companies, Staples, BJ’s, O’Reilly Auto Parts, and Uniqlo (Fast Retailing). In addition, Shawn founded a luxury menswear brand, which was most known for designing and manufacturing high quality clothing for corporate executives, and professional athletes across the country. Shawn also founded Nyopoly, a retail technology startup that developed dynamic pricing technology.

Before retail, as VP of Product Management & Global Operations, Shawn helped to start e4eNet. e4eNet was a cloud-based enterprise platform that managed the design for manufacturing process for printed circuit boards (PCBs), e4eNet was sold to IBM. Before, e4Enet Shawn worked for IBM in several technical capacities.

Shawn keeps a keen eye on what is potentially next, by staying actively involved in the Boston, New York, and Silicon Valley startup communities. Shawn is currently an Angel Investor with TBD Angels and a Summer Venture Program Advisor at Babson College. Shawn has served as the program lead for the Startup Leadership Program, and has participated in and supported startup programs through XRC Labs, Techstars, MassChallenge, and New York Fashion Tech Lab. He is also a long-standing member of the Consortium for Operational Excellence in Retailing (COER) out of HBS/Wharton.

For 8 years Shawn honorably served in the Army National Guard as an infantry soldier and armored personnel carrier (APC) driver. Shawn earned his MBA from Babson College, and bachelor’s degree in management information systems from the University of Massachusetts.

Read Shawn’s blog at: www.shawnharris.com

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  • Posted on: 06/07/2022

    Target isn’t wasting any time in cutting the glut from its inventory

    The steps Target is taking are the right ones. Gaining increased control of their balance sheet by marking down goods and decreasing spend will make them a stronger company, heading in to what may be tougher times ahead.
  • Posted on: 05/31/2022

    Why are retailers struggling so hard to balance inventory?

    Dr. Chris Caplice of MIT CTL once said "Managers don't get fired for having too much inventory, but they will for having too little." By no means am I saying that SCM leaders are not being responsible stewards; however given the increased uncertainty in the world leaning in on certain products may be prudent. Due to the inherent nature of variability throughout supply chains, I do believe that the remedy for this current issue may result in the pendulum swinging back to scarcity, and potentially then back to over-supply, before getting back to a global minimum. Generally more information sharing, to include point of sale data, is required far beyond one up and one down.
  • Posted on: 05/27/2022

    Is Macy’s for real?

    I would put more weight on shopper trends as we have opened up, than on any particular executed personalization program. Macy's requires a more structural/transformational change.
  • Posted on: 03/30/2022

    Have people had their fill of contact-free retail?

    Certainly, data led them to think this was worth at least testing, to learn, to evolve. I like it! It establishes a process that can be further optimized with engineered standards, as you eliminate the chaos injected by the walk-in and order process. It's basically a human-driven vending machine, a ghost kitchen as a point of pickup. However without lockers I do wonder how Starbucks will handle theft without some deterring presence.
  • Posted on: 03/28/2022

    Nike heads to the wholesale exits

    Nike's continued shift to DTC is allowing them to move faster with introducing new and fresh styles into market; however without the tyranny of multi-tier wholesale supply chains to reach retail customers. Their customization capabilities have undoubtedly provided many lessons on small batch profitability and manufacturing speed, which will support their DTC shift. Very few brands, outside of luxury, could pull this off.
  • Posted on: 03/21/2022

    Google Maps tries to eliminate retail’s last mile headaches

    Robust routing solutions have been around for a long time, I'm not sure what magic Google is offering here. I still believe that what we are seeing in last-mile logistics is a fight against physics, requiring new thinking about how to solve this problem.
  • Posted on: 03/21/2022

    Macy’s lets associates express their style

    During our 2022 NRF predictions session Ricardo Belmar, James Tenser, and I called this the "engineered influencers." We thought this could be a great platform for both retailers and associates. However, as I stated before, I believe that Macy's has greater structural issues that can not be solved with one, or a collection of, one-off campaigns.
  • Posted on: 03/11/2022

    Albertsons puts its digital transformation on the fast track

  • Posted on: 03/11/2022

    Albertsons puts its digital transformation on the fast track

    Generally, grocers and all retailers should use the following criteria to build, buy or partner:
    • Build for competitive advantage and achieve best fit to the grocer's processes;
    • Buy for a theoretically faster implementation and lower internal resources, as compared to the former;
    • Partner to realize lower costs via partner's economies of scale and expertise, allowing grocers to focus on their core business.
  • Posted on: 03/08/2022

    Are banned books a sales opportunity or political risk for Barnes & Noble?

    I applaud B&N. Books should not be banned. I can't believe I even need to state that in 2022. This is not ok. It's incredible the lengths some will go to in order to maintain power.
  • Posted on: 02/23/2022

    Has Macy’s become a different and better retailer?

    Looking at Macy's financials, I still see a retailer who is continuing to show secular decline. Here are some quick stats from macrotrends:
    • Macy's 2021 annual EBITDA was $-3.498B, a 278.93% decline from 2020;
    • Macy's 2020 annual EBITDA was $1.955B, a 27.19% decline from 2019;
    • Macy's 2019 annual EBITDA was $2.685B, a 4.45% decline from 2018.
    This is a company in need of structural change.
  • Posted on: 02/22/2022

    Should Amazon be broken up?

    *Checks notes.* Billionaire activist investor is upset that his ability to maximize his potential yield is being held back, so break them up. Moving on...
  • Posted on: 02/22/2022

    Are stores the answer to last-mile delivery?

    I think that the scale of what will be required for last-mile delivery, when mature, should not be underestimated. The impact on communities and environment will be significant. It's physics. Logically, stores are obvious choices for leveraging storage capacity, given proximity to demand (service level); however at scale it will not be enough as they truly will have to become warehouses with engineered standards sans the chaos of the consumer. Even the parking lot logistics will have to change to support more delivery vehicles. I don't believe we are looking at what an optimized end-state will be for last-mile with stores sharing last-mile warehouse and consumer self-serve points-of-sale use cases.
  • Posted on: 02/17/2022

    What isn’t wrong with the supply chain?

    We live in a world that has overindulged in just-in-time to maintain tight inventories, however, at the same time refusing to share POS data with upstream partners to include beyond tier-1. We need a revolutionary move to develop ways to securely share these demand actuals with upstream partners to mitigate the bullwhip. Maybe here is where a zero-knowledge proof could shine.
  • Posted on: 02/17/2022

    How far should retailers go with the use of computer vision?

    As someone who is steeped in this area of applied computer vision for retail, I am constantly thinking about these very topics and ethical concerns. It starts with a clear problem definition. This problem definition should encompass absolute clarity on all of the actors, which should include detailed personas. Here is where diversity in your AI and business teams pays off. Having AI and business teams comprised of individuals who hold multiple perspectives enhances said teams' ability uncover potential ethical concerns, truly creating a competitive advantage for the organization. Fact is, there is a significant level of rigor that is required to collect the quantity and quality of complete data to train, validate, deploy, and monitor high efficacy CV solutions. Without upfront detailed clarity on what you are trying to solve for, and for who, your solution will fall down. Retailers have a responsibility to ensure that the requisite people, policy, and practices are in place. Due to the required previously mentioned rigor, often times it may be wise to focus on those CV solutions that require no empathy and where some false positives can be tolerated -- queue management, traffic flow, heat mapping and merchandising analytics are such solutions and can pay dividends, as they truly digitize the physical world.

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