Sterling Hawkins

Co-founder, CART
Sterling Hawkins is out to break the status quo to create what’s actually possible for humanity in our time. He has spent his career igniting new views and inspiring people to act on them. His journey has been non-traditional right from the beginning. Sterling grew up a fifth-generation retailer, having to master the intersection of human behavior and technology under extreme competition. In 2004, Sterling co-founded, launched and sold his first technology company, Convena, where he developed innovative approaches to beat competition, handle high-growth and achieve performance no matter the obstacles. He went on to be involved with the launch, growth or investment in over 50 companies. Today, Sterling reviews over 1,000 new technology companies every year further refining the keys to realizing breakthrough innovation and giving back that experience as a mentor to leading entrepreneurs working through exponential growth. He is the co-founder of CART, a platform to drive adoption of emerging technologies at fortune 500 companies. And he speaks and runs workshops around the world for clients such as Samsung, Criteo, Synchrony Financial and the United Nations. Sterling is an internationally-recognized thought leader and top-rated keynote speaker on innovation, transformational leadership and exponential growth. His keynotes share meaningful strategies to drive change delivered with the inspiration to leave attendees in action. Sterling is a certified yoga teacher and adventure seeker regularly pushing his own boundaries of what’s possible by skydiving, century bike riding, shark diving, and even camping in the Sahara. He brings that energy of maximizing human potential and breaking past limiting beliefs to everything he does. Currently living in Los Angeles, he has been seen in Inc. Magazine, Fast Company, The New York Times and Forbes. Sterling is inspiring a network of entrepreneurs, investors and fortune 500 companies, actively shaping the future for the betterment of business, communities and the human condition. Of course, he’s still regularly found on adventures.
  • Posted on: 10/20/2020

    Albertsons offers a new refrigerated take on store pickup

    The incremental added convenience here isn't a game changer. Albertsons now needs to focus on successfully refining the experience in and around the lockers (mobile, online, etc.) that will make or break their utility. True today and will still be true in a post-COVID world.
  • Posted on: 10/15/2020

    Is YouTube a shopping powerhouse waiting to happen?

    It is only a matter of time before YouTube becomes a shopping platform. The user interface is everything so I'm sure YouTube will take their time to make sure it's a seamless, enjoyable (at least not annoying) experience.
  • Posted on: 10/12/2020

    Should Yelp be calling out businesses accused of racist behavior?

    Yelp's intention is in the right place, but the execution is inherently flawed. Guilty before proven innocent will ultimately hurt more than help.
  • Posted on: 10/05/2020

    Are employees or execs holding back data-driven cultures?

    My bet is that the "nearly two-thirds of data teams that have experienced employee resistance to the adoption of data-driven methods at their organizations" aren't just resistant to data, they're resistant to change of any kind. Humans aren't built for change (we're built for survival) and unless you create a culture that embraces and creates change, including how data is used, you've already lost the game.
  • Posted on: 09/28/2020

    Are Amazon’s flying security drones a threat to homeowner privacy?

    The march of innovation is inevitable and this is a very cool product from Ring, although I'm sure not for everyone. Privacy concerns are definitely justified and will turn off certain people; however, for others it will make their lives more efficient and more safe with more peace of mind. I don't see Amazon using the data to support their core retail business, at least any time too soon, but it seems like a logical step for them at some point down the line.
  • Posted on: 09/23/2020

    COVID-19 may push retailers to use voice assistants instead of touch screens

    What matters most with any technology is that it works. A great customer experience is paramount to any any other factor that may or may not go with it. While we've made great leaps in voice technology, it's still a little time before it could effectively replace touchscreens altogether. And depending on the retailer or restaurant, it may not be a one-or-the-other kind of decision, they can work well together or perhaps there could be situations where the consumer decides how they want to interact. Long story short, the pandemic is driving huge interest and investment in countless technologies, voice is definitely one of them.
  • Posted on: 09/22/2020

    Grocers are primed to compete with Amazon’s free grocery delivery

    Just trying to add technologies and processes to a traditional retailer will ultimately be a failed exercise to "compete" with Amazon. What's required is a cultural shift that puts the customer at the center, not the store or any other part of the business. Instead of just adding on ecommerce to everything that has always been done, a true culture of innovation will need to ask new questions about how to best serve the customer and find new answers that potentially build new parts of the company or jettison others. When we get to the heart of where a company makes decisions from (their culture), we can make real, sustainable and even transformational changes in a relatively short period of time.
  • Posted on: 09/21/2020

    Can Trader Joe’s continue thriving without delivery and curbside pickup?

    This has never been about the technology, it's about the value exchange with customers. Trader Joe's just happens to have a different value proposition and they do deserve a few points for staying true to their vision even with tremendous outside pressure. Personally, I would have liked it if Trader Joe's at least offered curbside pickup as they lost my business mostly because of the unbearable lines to get in during the pandemic occupancy control. Chasing short-term opportunities will only yield incremental gains at best. Staying true to a vision will always win big in the end and Trader Joe's seems to know it.
  • Posted on: 09/17/2020

    Amazon Fresh grocery store opens touting low prices and cashier-free checkout

    I just missed seeing this before I left LA! Although I did tour it prior to the opening and I don't think there are any surprises here. Amazon has a really strong mix of good prices, customer data and technology that's hard to compete with. Supermarkets in the area would be wise to double down on customer data — understand who their best customers are and treat them accordingly — at least as a first step. That deep connection and understanding of customers is how to compete with Amazon and it should guide marketing, merchandising, and even technologies that will make sense going forward.
  • Posted on: 09/16/2020

    C-stores focused on being even more convenient during the pandemic

    If you're going to be called a convenience store I guess you should probably live up to the name! I don't think there's a one-size-fits all approach here, but generally speaking I'd focus efforts in making e-commerce, pickup and checkout as frictionless as humanly (and technically) possible. Orders waiting to pick up when you pull in. Scanning your phone to simply walk out without having to wait in line. Easy re-ordering options. Your order brought out while you're pumping gas. The list goes on. Any c-store that takes out meaningful amounts of friction will win the day not only through the pandemic but out into the future.
  • Posted on: 09/10/2020

    Walmart pilots its way into the drone delivery race

    When it comes to drones, there's no one-size-fits-all. Different geographies, different products, different retailers should find a different mix of autonomous delivery vehicles that fit their customer needs. I love tech, Apple can verify I spend far too much money on it, so I'm excited about this one. Glad Walmart is at least testing drones and it's also a smart business (and PR) move.
  • Posted on: 09/04/2020

    How can automation help omnichannel fulfillment?

    Automation is a big part of the answer, but not the only answer. Properly implemented in higher volume areas, these tools can reduce steps and meaningfully increase profitability. The other piece is making sure the humans in and around the automation have the right training, support and customer service ability to make it a win.
  • Posted on: 09/03/2020

    Is Whole Foods’ e-grocery business headed down a dark path?

    Dark stores were around pre-pandemic and I'm sure they'll be around post-pandemic. Amazon is surprisingly behind in this area as many other grocers already operate dark stores. We haven't found a silver bullet here, but they can make a lot of sense for higher volume areas and provide a much needed profitability boost (especially if they're automated). Whether or not they're a right move for a retailer has to do with 2 things: does the volume justify it and does it align with the core value proposition of the retailer. If the answer is yes on both fronts, what are you waiting for?
  • Posted on: 09/01/2020

    Grocers shift gears as stimulus stalemate tightens consumer spending

    Smart retailers have been carefully managing their customer relationships thru the pandemic and used the time to strengthen the ties. They're ideally positioned to know what and how to market to customers on an individual basis and how to merchandise for their best customers. Long term, the relationships they've built will be even stronger than before.
  • Posted on: 08/25/2020

    How should grocers prepare for a possible pandemic stockpiling redux?

    Having some breathing room for key products in the supply chain is probably the first step. Keeping the supply chain as thin as possible just isn't prudent when the future looks so uncertain. Beyond that, optimizing the same process and systems we have will only get us so far. Retailers should be re-thinking e-commerce entirely (and maybe their whole business strategy): Pre-ordering, reserving products (maybe an approach for selling products the retailers doesn't yet have), automation, special access for VIP customers, etc. can all reshape their businesses and their ability to deliver great experiences.

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