Cover Story: The Top Women in Omnichannel Retail
Retail Online Integration's fifth annual list of the leading women executives in omnichannel retail features some of the brightest minds in the industry. This year's nominees were chosen for being in a top-level position within an omnichannel retail organization, along with several other criteria, including their scope of responsibility, achievements within their own companies, and their involvement within the retail industry. Take advantage of this opportunity to learn about the career paths of some of today's leading retail experts, as well as find out what they believe will be the top tip for omnichannel retail success in 2015.
Kavita Baball, Senior Vice President, Customer Experience and Retention, Shoebuy.com
Kavita focuses her passion for shoes on delivering an outstanding customer experience for Shoebuy. She brings a combination of e-commerce, technology and strategy expertise to her role, ensuring that Shoebuy shoppers have the confidence that they can always find and buy the perfect items across the company's range of websites and digital platforms. Kavita previously served as director of site optimization for Staples’ websites globally, and as a management consultant at Bain & Company. She holds a M.B.A. from the Wharton School of Business and Bachelor of Science and Master of Engineering degrees from MIT.
TIP: In today's hectic world, retailers must provide a seamless customer experience. Making it easy and delighting customers during their shopping journey is key to driving engagement and, in the long term, loyalty.
Debra Berman, Chief Marketing Officer, J.C. Penney
Debra Berman is the chief marketing officer at J.C. Penney. Since August 2013, Debra has been responsible for leading the company's marketing campaign efforts with a focus on revitalizing the J.C. Penney brand, building the brand architecture and communicating the "fit" promise to customers.
Debra brings over 25 years of experience as a marketing strategist and communications expert for major consumer brands, including Kraft Foods Group, where she was vice president of global brand strategy for all Kraft-owned brands in addition to leading the marketing communications Center of Excellence.
Prior to joining Kraft in 2009, Debra spent nearly five years as strategic planning director at DDB Advertising. Before that she held senior strategy planning roles at Sterling Brands, Young & Rubicam, and Swander Pace & Company. Early in her career, Debra progressed through roles of increasing responsibility at advertising firms JWT, Saatchi & Saatchi, and Lintas. She earned a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Pennsylvania and a M.B.A from UCLA Anderson School of Management.
TIP: Anticipate each customer and serve him or her one consistent brand, a touchpoint at a time. Price of entry is and will continue to be delighting the customer with the right experience for the channel they're shopping. Present goods, offers, and payment and shopping experiences that are right for the moment she is in — when she uses your channel. Go to market recognizing every day that other service areas are driving her expectations and you need to stay agile to deliver this moving target. Leverage the heck out of your customer-level data to deliver one customer at a time.
Krista Berry, Executive Vice President, Chief Digital Officer, Kohl's Department Stores
Krista Berry is the executive vice president, chief digital officer at Kohl's Department Stores. She's responsible for developing and executing Kohl's long-term omnichannel and customer-driven digital innovation strategies, including overseeing Kohl's fast-growing e-commerce business. Under Krista's leadership, digital sales have doubled since 2011 to just under $2 billion, while maintaining a focus on innovation and customer experience. Prior to joining Kohl's in 2012, Krista was the general manager, North America retail, for Nike, where she and her team oversaw the evolution of the North America Nike Experiences in-store and online. Previously, Krista was part of the Target team for 19 years in various leadership roles with both Target and Marshall Field's.
TIP: Build a world-class team focused on putting the customer first and delivering a seamless shopping experience that continues to excite and inspire the customer across all channels.
Kathryn Bufano, President and CEO, Bon-Ton Stores
Kathryn Bufano is president and chief executive officer of The Bon-Ton Stores, Inc., as well as a member of its board of directors.
Kathryn served as president and chief merchandising officer of Belk Inc. from August 2010 till August 2014, and previously served as the retailer's president, merchandising and marketing, from January 2008 to August 2010. From 2006 to January 2008, Kathryn was the CEO of Vanity Shops, Inc. Kathryn pursued higher education from 2003 to 2006, and from 2002 to 2003 was executive vice president, general manager, soft lines, for Sears Roebuck & Company. Prior to 2002, Kathryn served as president, chief merchandising officer for Dress Barn, Inc., and in various positions in the Macy's East and Lord & Taylor divisions of Federated Department Stores. Kathryn is a graduate of the University of Illinois-Urbana with a Bachelor of Science degree in retailing. She also earned a Master's degree in Business Administration from Lake Forest Graduate School of Management in Lake Forest, Ill.
TIP: It's critical to align your merchant, marketing, planning and IT departments so they think and plan as one to achieve a seamless brand and shopping experience for the customer.
Sona Chawla, President of Digital and Chief Marketing Officer, Walgreens
Sona Chawla is president of digital and chief marketing officer for Walgreen Co. She's responsible for advancing Walgreens’ omnichannel vision by creating customer experiences that drive loyalty and enhance the company's brand; developing the right mix across the full portfolio of marketing assets; innovating through digital offerings; and evolving the Balance Rewards loyalty program.
Previously, Sona served as Walgreens president of e-commerce from January 2011 before being promoted to her current role in February 2014. She joined Walgreens in July 2008 as senior vice president of e-commerce. Prior to Walgreens, Sona was vice president of global online business at Dell, Inc.
TIP: Be open to change and follow the customer. Imagine the possibilities enabled through technology that will drive the best customer experiences and uniquely align with your company's core business and strategic positioning.