Stephen Rector

Founder, President, Bakertown Consulting

Stephen Rector is an international retail executive and consultant, with extensive experience leading merchandise strategy, sourcing, pricing, and curation across a variety of channels, including ecommerce, mobile, physical stores, and digital marketplaces like Alibaba’s TMall & Taobao platforms, Tencent’s WeChat platform , as well as Amazon’s Marketplace.

His work across a broad set of categories has yielded accelerated growth for digital and physical retail business models in both North America and Asia.

Stephen has been a guest on Bloomberg TV’s Daybreak Asia & Daybreak Australia discussing ecommerce & digital trends from both a Chinese and American perspective. He has also been interviewed by Yahoo Finance & Reuters.

Currently, Stephen is working with a brand management company based in New York City developing their direct to consumer business & overall ecommerce business strategy.

Previously, Stephen helped establish Macy’s merchandise strategy and supply chain in China, creating a multimillion dollar international expansion business for the iconic American retailer and department store chain.

Prior to Macy’s China, Stephen led women’s merchandising for fast fashion retailer Rue21 and served in leadership positions at Macy’s Inc. in New York City.

His expertise and international business network spans across North America and Asia, helping companies build efficient global supply chains for fast fashion, navigate international customs for import & export, establish fashion & trend centers of excellence, recruit and develop talent, and deploy merchandise planning and forecasting tools.

  • Posted on: 09/22/2020

    Will Walmart’s new private clothing line have ‘staying power’?'s target customer is different than the in-store customer. They are targeting families with incomes at $100,000 plus in metro areas. Therefore this move to offer more expensive apparel lines makes sense in terms of the product offering and price. They will learn from it and take the data for future brands both in-store and online. Walmart continues to offer new and interesting ideas and concepts on a weekly basis these days.
  • Posted on: 09/21/2020

    Patagonia wants to ‘Vote the a**holes out’

    Patagonia knows their customer base as well as the best retailers in the world do. This is specifically targeted to their customers while also getting a little buzz in the media. However other brands should tread lightly with this type of overt message - it's not for everyone.
  • Posted on: 09/21/2020

    Will 2020 be the year the holiday selling season changed forever?

    Customer behavior has changed. The idea of holiday promotions shifting into October makes sense - and retailers in typical fashion will need to anniversary those numbers - therefore, the events (if successful) will continue year after year. I am very interested in the 10.10 shopping event and how it will perform. I experienced Singles Day for the first time in China - it isn't just a shopping event. It is a combination of music, celebrity and shopping. It's bringing entertainment and shopping together - with the majority of this happening on a mobile device. This is the beauty of the event - will the 10.10 event be the same?
  • Posted on: 09/18/2020

    Online to make up 21.5 percent of grocery’s sales in five years

    At this point, those grocery chains that are not providing a seamless omnichannel operation are way behind the curve and have to move extremely quickly to catch up. Customers want to have the option of both online and in-store shopping and the chains that don't provide that are missing the opportunity.
  • Posted on: 09/17/2020

    Will runners subscribe to a 100 percent recyclable shoe rental plan?

    The key here is that the customer gets a new pair each time. If the shoe fits the customer, then I think this can work. I don’t see this in other categories, unless it's a person that always wears the same dress shoe and might want to just get a new pair often? But it seems like a bit of a stretch.
  • Posted on: 09/17/2020

    Will Apple’s Express pickup concept drop off post-pandemic?

    The express pickup concept for Apple makes a lot of sense. I can see other retailers launching similar concepts in the future. At the Whole Foods in my neighborhood, the locker setup that David writes about is already in effect. I have not seen anyone use it yet, but it’s in a place in the store where you only have to step in about 10 feet in order to access the locker, so there is zero interaction with associates.
  • Posted on: 09/16/2020

    Can IKEA drive a used furniture movement?

    What will be interesting to see with these re-commerce furniture platforms is the shipping costs and who pays for what. We already see that many apparel and accessory e-commerce platforms struggle with profitability due to logistics. Have these furniture platforms figured it out? Or are they even deeper in the hole? IKEA has the cash to do something like this - these other platforms sound like VC funded companies that could be challenged to actually make money.
  • Posted on: 09/16/2020

    Will Amazon’s new online store disrupt the luxury fashion and beauty business?

    No. Until people use the search bar to for finding the latest Chanel handbag rather than double A batteries, this isn't going to amount to much. To be honest, just launching with one brand makes it feel like an afterthought. The Chinese platforms have forced luxury brands to go to them because that is how that consumer shops, however the U.S. luxury shopper isn't there yet and I'm not sure when they will be.
  • Posted on: 09/15/2020

    Will the election sidetrack holiday shoppers?

    A resurgence of COVID-19 is more likely to be an issue for retailers than the election. Retailers must plan for an extended holiday season and be smart to direct traffic to their websites early and often in order to not swamp the brick-and-mortar stores with people.
  • Posted on: 09/15/2020

    Could Authentic Brands be the lynchpin in J.C. Penney’s turnaround?

    I honestly don't know if the current brand merchandise at J.C. Penney is the main problem in terms of attracting young new shoppers to the store - I think the bigger problem is the lack of interest or recognition of the store itself. So while it does matter what is inside the four walls, the first thing they need to do is make the J.C. Penney brand more relevant which is an uphill battle. While ABG's portfolio could offer up some brands that cater to younger customers, I would think they have to be careful of cannibalization within the mall space. Maybe if you don't have a Forever 21 in the mall you can put it F21 merchandise into J.C. Penney, but how many locations are there where both retailers don't already have a footprint? Unless Simon/Brookfield inject a ton of marketing dollars to attract new customers, this whole project is basically just keeping J.C. Penney on life support.
  • Posted on: 09/14/2020

    Lululemon is ready to tackle holiday crowd control

    Lululemon has done a great job of keeping their brick and mortar locations safe and not crowded. The popup stores are a great idea to better manage higher traffic patterns. They have the product that people want and their performance will continue to outshine other specialty retailers.
  • Posted on: 09/11/2020

    How big is the staycationer opportunity?

    While I know a lot of people are looking to get back on planes and travel the globe, I see the staycation trend sticking around. This is a way of creating an escape at a fraction of the price of a real vacation. Brands that sell upgraded bedding, beauty products and food will be winners.
  • Posted on: 09/09/2020

    Is it okay for retailers to ease up on cleaning their stores?

    The fact that retailers are considering reducing cleaning hours feels tone deaf at this time. The customer expectations have changed and I hope this "trend" of cleaner stores will be one that sticks.
  • Posted on: 09/01/2020

    Will the late Prime Day sabotage or catapult holiday spending?

    If a family has a set amount of disposable income for holiday shopping, the addition of Prime Day in October or early November just gives another option to spend. For other retailers, if they don’t mirror an event at the same time, they will lose out on an opportunity to sell their merchandise. I think consumers will react positively to having another sale event to get holiday shopping done sooner vs. later. This actually could be a blessing in disguise for all retail as there may be less pressure at the very end to fulfill last minute purchases as the spending was done earlier in the season.
  • Posted on: 08/31/2020

    Why does Amazon want a fitness tracker?

    Healthcare/insurance is ripe for disruption and the tech giants (FAANG stocks) are all over this already. For Amazon this is about data collection first, but the possibility of Amazon Health Insurance tied into a person's Amazon Prime membership could very well happen in the future - essentially Amazon being the hub for all of your health and shopping needs.

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