Technology's role in retail "is to move the business to where the customer wants it," Julie Averill, EVP and CTO of Lululemon and former CIO at REI, said in an email to CIO Dive.
Averill works in conjunction with the company's mission and encourages technologists she works with to do the same. When a connection between business goals and technologists is achieved, it's easier to build solutions, she said.
- As retailers bend to customers' digital demands, Averill is committed to companies that reflect personal principles. "I choose to work with companies that have values that align with my own, and who care about important things in the world."
Any minor change retailers make can yield immediate customer feedback. This makes digital transformation and experimentation all the more temperamental in the retail space.
But creating an environment technologists are free to experiment in is crucial. "Building amazing technology really is a team sport," said Averill, but "it's hard to create an environment where the best technologists can do their best work."
Lululemon onboarded new CEO Calvin McDonald in July. He has a proven track record in innovative store concepts during his time at Sephora. The athletic wear company is undergoing "strategic investments," including technology enhancements, data analytics channel innovation and guest acquisition, according to its Q2 2018 earnings call.
The company is expecting an increase in capital expenditures for FY18 after several projects including store renovations and corporate infrastructure projects.
Last year, the company implemented new POS technology which improved acquisition of customer email and information. The new level of engagement made customers part of its guest file while enabling the company to enroll customers in digital communications and marketing.
Successful in retail-specific IT, Averill was tapped as an independent board member for custom clothier INDOCHINO. At INDOCHINO she is an advisor, a role she has never held, but one she said will give her the opportunity to see a company "from a different vantage point."
INDOCHINO's growth rate — 50% in three years — is indicative of its reliance on technology innovation. Averill wants to "guide the company's technology direction so that it's in a position to maintain that growth."