In a presentation during the 2017 Retail Innovation Conference, Josh Wais, Emerging Technology and Strategy Lead at Jet.com, shared five key takeaways retailers needed to heed if they want to survive and thrive in the midst of constantly shifting consumer preferences.
The RTP team recently reconnected with Wais who shared his thoughts on innovation, leveraging data to drive a retail business, blended fulfillment and advice for young retail execs.
RTP: What are the best ways to foster innovation within a retail business?
Wais: Innovation is about taking smart risks. What usually stifles innovation is an environment where employees feel better off taking the low-risk route. One of the best ways to foster innovation is for leaders within an organization to help employees feel better off taking the smart-risk route. This happens by talking about it explicitly and often, leading by example and rewarding those who take smart risks even if they fail.
RTP: Jet.com’s data-driven pricing model has certainly been a significant differentiator for the brand. In what other ways has data helped Jet.com thrive as a retail innovator?
Wais: Data is at the core of a lot of what we do. We use data for everything from powering our massive catalog to conducting tests of new features for our web site and apps. We’re constantly looking for new ways to leverage the data we have to improve both our processes and customer experience.
RTP: During your presentation at RIC, you said that sometimes fast delivery isn’t always necessarily what online retailers need, that success is more about blended fulfillment. Can you elaborate on how brands can continue to improve on the concept of blended fulfillment for the consumer?
Wais: I would encourage everyone to check out two initiatives our colleagues at Walmart have launched this year, which serve as great examples. The first is Pickup Discount, which takes advantage of the lower costs associated with shipping products to a store and passes them on to customers as a discount. The second is Associate Delivery, which allows associates in Walmart stores to opt in to deliver packages from their store to customers’ homes. Both are out-of-the-box ideas that leverage the company’s unique assets to offer customers new ways to get their products and save money.
RTP: How did you get started in retail?
Wais: I come from a tech background. Prior to Jet.com I had worked in e-Commerce related startups.
RTP: Who have been your role models/mentors/inspirations within the industry?
Wais: We’re biased, but I would say the biggest role model and inspiration for many of us here at Jet is Marc Lore, our founder and president and CEO of Walmart eCommerce U.S, who is an incredible industry visionary.
RTP: What advice do you have for up-and-coming retail executives?
Wais: I would encourage anyone in retail to learn as much as they can about not only technology, but also about how technology companies operate. Working at a fast pace and thinking creatively are more critical than ever in today’s environment.
Check out the Retail Innovation Conference site for more updates on the 2018 event!