Get to know RETHINK Retail’s Top Retail Influencers through the “Meet the TRI” Q&A series! Dive in to learn about a member of the thought leader community and follow their work and insights across our content and their social channels.
Hi, I’m Rick Watson, CEO of RMW Commerce Consulting.
Connect with me on LinkedIn!
“Tell us about your background”
Based in New York City, Rick Watson is an eCommerce executive with more than 20 years in the industry at companies including Pitney Bowes, Barnes & Noble, Merchantry, and ChannelAdvisor.
Rick was one of the first employees at ChannelAdvisor (NYSE:ECOM), spending 10 years there launching several of the company’s flagship innovative offerings and helping retailers and brands sell more on eBay and Amazon marketplaces. He was later recruited to launch the third-party marketplace at Barnes & Noble.com, expanding the company’s product catalog by more than one million items. After the successful marketplace launch, Rick was named CEO of Merchantry, which he led to a $30 million acquisition by Tradeshift. Most recently, Rick directed the cross-border product strategy of Pitney Bowes, a $450 million business comprising Borderfree and eBay Global Shipping Program.
“Brief description of your current role and your space in the industry.”
Rick Watson founded RMW Commerce Consulting after spending 20+ years as a technology entrepreneur and operator exclusively in the eCommerce industry with companies like ChannelAdvisor, BarnesandNoble.com, Merchantry, and Pitney Bowes. Watson’s work today is centered on supporting investors and management teams incubating and growing direct-to-consumer businesses. Most recently, in partnership with WHP Global, Rick was a critical resource in architecting the WHP+ platform, a new turnkey direct-to-consumer digital e-commerce platform that powers AnneKlein.com and JosephAbboud.com. Watson also hosts a podcast, The Watson Weekly, where he shares an unbiased, unfiltered expert take on the retail sector’s biggest news and players.
“How has the retail industry changed in the past 5 years? What do you predict will happen in the next 5 to 10 years?”
In the past 5 years, we have seen the continued struggle for retailers that have not transformed their experiences. The future really belongs to retailers who have done a few things:
- Prioritized their customer experiences, particularly curbside and in-store pick-up
- Fully integrated online/digital and retail experiences as part of a unified customer journey
- Invested in up-fitting older stores
- Continued to innovate in core assortment and expanded product lines into growth areas
- Retired legacy technology
- Hired and retained top talent
“Do you have any interesting projects coming up?”
One of my more interesting projects at the moment is working with a design-focused marketplace on a replatform to a headless eCommerce platform.
I am also currently in the process of launching the RMW Commerce Community, a trusted discussion group to chat about all things eCommerce.
“Which resources do you use to keep up with industry news?”
I love a few different sources, in particular:
Retail Touchpoints: https://www.retailtouchpoints.com/
Industry Dive: https://www.industrydive.com/
(specifically Retail Dive, Supply Chain Dive, and Marketing Dive)
Business Insider: https://www.businessinsider.com/
Term Sheet: https://fortune.com/newsletter/termsheet
Axios Pro Rata: https://www.axios.com/signup/pro-rata
Google News is also surprisingly good at learning what you like to read about.
“What is the greatest challenge the industry is facing?”
Talent is still one of the biggest challenges facing the industry today. Many retailers cannot recruit and retain great staff for their store experiences.
Another huge challenge in the industry is the legacy of retailers and brands that have not adapted well to the times. Bed Bath & Beyond, Kohl’s, and Gap all fall in this camp.
“How do you continue to grow and develop as an influencer in the retail industry?”
You always need to be learning and helping others in new ways. People ask me how much time I spend reading. The answer is that I am constantly reading. Every moment is time to learn something new.
You also need to keep finding ways to engage the audience. I started blogging pretty early in my consulting career and then added LinkedIn. A couple of years later, I added a podcast that has been active for over a year. I’m now working on a private community project.
“What are the most critical changes that we must make to face the future effectively?”
There are two huge challenges for the industry in the next few years:
- How to handle all the after-effects of COVID being one of the greatest shocks in the world in the last generation. This includes the effects of quantitative easing, supply chain and manufacturing shocks, consumer impacts, etc.
- How to handle the broad industry shift in the industry from “growth at all costs” to more of a profitability footing. It often takes a different type of leader to manage the optimization of a business rather than simply growing it.
“What has helped you get to where you are and what advice would you have for others who want to set off in a similar direction?”
For those trying to break into eCommerce, finding a great, high-quality eCommerce organization is the first step. As you interview for roles, always look for organizations with the toughest and most efficient interview processes, reasoning that this will attract the best candidates. Your job is to work with a great team for a number of years, and then you will be off and running in the industry!
“What is the best resource for people who want to dive in deeper?”
Follow me on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/rickwatsonecommerce/
Or check out my podcast: https://www.rmwcommerce.com/ecommerce-podcast-watsonweekly
My eCommerce consulting firm’s website: https://www.rmwcommerce.com/