Kathryn R

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On November 23, 2015, Kathryn R commented on Starbucks: Coffeehouse or Tech Company? :

Thanks for your interesting post! I’ve long admired Starbucks for how they have embraced digital over the years. They have adopted a lot of policies typically associated with tech companies, as you alluded to. They’ve made a number of hiring decisions in the past few years that strongly signal their ongoing commitment to integrating digital and technology into their business. It will be interesting to see what other things they try in the future.


On November 23, 2015, Kathryn R commented on Stitch Fix: Mastering Personalization Through Data Science :

Thanks for your interesting post. One thing I’ve always wondered about with these curated services is how they strike the balance between sending you things that are “exactly you” that you always will like vs. “stretch pieces” that you wouldn’t necessarily pick out for yourself and might work every other time. I could imagine that if you were a loyal, reoccurring customer that eventually the data-driven styling will converge to boxes that look exactly like clothes that are already in your wardrobe (either ones that StichFix sends you or ones that you bought yourself). One of my good friends tried the service and ended up sending back all of her clothes because they looked like clothes she already had. I wonder if these algorithms can get too good at predicting your style and don’t take enough risks.

On November 23, 2015, Kathryn R commented on “Integrated Commerce” is IN….”Omnichannel” is OUT :

Thanks for this post! Personally, I’m really excited about this technology. The fitting room is a critical moment in a shoppers in-store purchase decision journey and an area where retailers traditionally didn’t have too much insight for obvious reasons. This type of technology also has the real potential to unlock valuable insights around what clothes are tried on together, what customers are trying on and not buying, etc. The value of this will obviously depend on the quality and the amount of data that customers provide it. Will be curious to see what the customer uptake is and if they see enough value of the dressing room technology will be enough to prompt customers to use it.

On October 5, 2015, Kathryn R commented on Handy: Turning Product Into Platform :

Thank you for interesting post. I too share your concerns that Handy will be unable to avoid the same fate as HomeJoy. They are definitely in a catch-22 with their contractor business model since they cannot guarantee the quality of their contractors and I don’t think the economics will work if they switch to an employee model where they would have more control. Rumor has it that Google hired a large number of HomeJoy’s tech team after they shut their doors this summer. I am curious to see if and how Google actually tries to tackle the home services market… perhaps they will be able to avoid the pitfalls that plagued HomeJoy and Handy (e.g., high customer churn, high customer acquisition costs, trade-off between economics and control over quality, etc.)

On October 5, 2015, Kathryn R commented on The Knot : Maximizing Value in an Evergreen Industry :

I too like the XO group’s business as I think they have a lot of growth potential on the value capture side. Not only do they have more room to grow in their traditional revenue generating categories (e.g., advertising from local vendors, affiliate marketing tied to registries, etc.) but there is also tremendous value to the data they are collecting through their various businesses. Many different companies are keen to target customers at the time they are going through major life changes. Think about all of the big changes that happen when you get married, buy a house, have a baby, etc. and all of the auxiliary businesses that would be interested in this — for example, when couples get married they often combine bank accounts, get a new credit card, move, etc. It would be very valuable to other companies to know when this is happening in their target customer’s life so they can proactively serve them offers and advertising. The key to all of this, of course, is to have the members and the data to begin with so I share the concerns voiced above on how well can XO continuously attract new members each year. Content is obviously key but its also crucial to develop a comprehensive digital footprint as they way brides-to-be are researching is changing rapidly thanks to pinterest, mobile, etc.

On October 5, 2015, Kathryn R commented on Etsy – Beyond Brands and Boarders :

Thank you for the interesting post! I too am a huge Etsy fan and purchased a lot of items for my wedding on the site. Was an affordable and convenient way to get customized pieces done. Would be curious to hear your thoughts on the sustainability of Etsy’s growth. There has been some recent press that caution against the classic downfall of many platforms — as one side gets more success (namely the shop owners on Etsy) the value of the platform (i.e. Etsy) itself goes down. Specifically, I worry about the consequences of Etsy relaxing its restrictions on “handmade” in order to allow sellers to keep up with demand. Some of the super successful sellers have begun to outsource some of their production which goes against the origins and spirit of Etsy. Moreover, as the barriers to creating and operating e-commerce shops goes down there is little incentive for these sellers to stay on Etsy once they establish a following. One example here: https://www.yahoo.com/makers/exclusiveetsys-richest-seller-explains-why-127615604095.html

On September 14, 2015, Kathryn R commented on MIRROR, MIRROR ON THE WALL: REBECCA MINKOFF’S STORE OF THE FUTURE :

I agree this is super interesting! The technology in the store is quite impressive and can obviously boost sales through bigger basket sizes via the cross-selling and upsetting that occurs in the dressing room. Like you, though, I must admit that I’m more excited about the value that the data collected can unlock. Rebecca knows what pieces are being brought into the dressing room but not purchased, what pieces are usually tried on together, what styles are ultimately bought by different consumer types, etc. The value of this information transcends well beyond getting you to buy one more piece of clothing while you’re in the store. For instance, Rebecca and team can use this data to improve sell-though in the wholesale channel as well as inform next year’s collection, just to name a few. A lot of brands have tried to bring the offline experience online in response to the digital revolution but Rebecca is taking the opposite point of view. It will certainly be interesting to see if other brands decide to invest in a similar approach.

On September 14, 2015, Kathryn R commented on Burberry: Leader in Retail Tech :

Insightful post Anndrea! I have long admired Burberry’s commitment to digital both as a consumer and as someone who has worked in the retail and luxury goods space. Carina, you raise some very real concerns that many brands face when they try to dip their toes into digital without fully committing or understanding what the role digital is playing for the brand. I think Burberry has made a number of moves over the past few years to mitigate these risks as much as possible. While some brands deploy disjointed digital marketing tactics, the sheer scale and depth of Burberry’s digital approach is impressive — digital is core to not only their consumer experience but also their backend. For Burberry, digital itself is not a strategy but rather a means to help land their strategy of “democratic luxury” whereby they want to provide universal access to the brand. The brand has made a purposeful choice to target the millennial and to deliver them a consistent brand experience at every touchpoint and has changed their operating model in order to do so. If interested to learn more about just how pervasive digital is at Burberry I highly recommend this video (fast forward to the 2 min mark…)

On September 14, 2015, Kathryn R commented on USPS: Innovating at a Snail’s Pace :

Interesting and very relatable post. I think we’ve all had a painful experience or two with the USPS at some point in our lives whether it is not receiving a piece of mail, a package arriving extremely damaged or waiting in a long line at the post office. I totally agree with SJB that instead of trying to launch “flashy” digital initiatives like the RMN they should focus on streamlining their operations and leverage the power of digital to deliver mail more efficiently and effectively. There is a lot of room for improvement in the customer experience of trying to send/receive mail that could benefit significantly from a bit of digital innovation.