Despite the epic challenges we’ve faced these past couple of years, this is one of the most exciting times to be in retail. The pandemic and other global forces have disrupted the status quo, accelerating 5 years of ecommerce growth in a matter of months and forcing the industry to adapt at the same rate. But with this upheaval has come immense forward momentum as consumers have changed their behavior in this weird world, and there’s incredible opportunity to craft what the digital experience will look like.
This is why, after 21 years at some of the best retail brands in the world (including Walmart, Target, and most recently as Managing Director & SVP running Levi’s US D2C business), I’m thrilled to join Narvar as the first-ever Chief Customer Officer. The chance to help influence these existential changes from a broader cross-industry perspective at a leading tech platform, while working with one of the leaders I admire most, Amit Sharma, made this a perfect fit.
Since our days on the logistics team together at Walmart, I’ve viewed Amit as a peer and highly respect his knowledge of the industry. He’s one of the few who has that level of expertise in fulfillment, transportation, customer experience — someone I could pick up the phone and call who understood it as well as I do. Plus I’ve watched how he’s built this company over the past 8 years, making smart and thoughtful decisions, so that it’s now exceptionally poised as the post-purchase leader.
But beyond that, my client relationship with Narvar (and now coming to work for the company) is a testament to the strength of the entire team and their commitment to retail and customer advocacy. At Levi’s I was a long-term Narvar client, viewing the company as a strategic partner and expanding our use of the platform over the years. I’ve been on the Customer Advisory Board, have spoken at the Narvar Summit, and innovated with the team — we just recently piloted scheduled home pickup of returns, as an example.
My client relationship with Narvar (and now coming to work for the company) is a testament to the strength of the entire team and their commitment to retail and customer advocacy.
As a veteran retail operator and insider, I’m honored to take this focus on meaningful client relationships at Narvar to the next level in this new role, and be able to work more broadly in an advisory capacity across so many retail brands to help the industry move forward. Why now? The role of CCO is really about elevating the customer experience and delivering on go-forward consumer expectations. This is a pivotal time in the industry: consumer expectations are rapidly evolving in the post-purchase space, putting pressure on both the consumer experience retailers and brands deliver, as well as on the profitability and scalability of omnichannel P&L’s. This makes it a perfect time to disrupt and produce value for all — as well as deliver and exceed our customers’ and consumers’ expectations. That is why the timing felt perfect on this one!
As acquisition gets more expensive, brands can’t afford to continue to churn at their current rates — they need to focus on retention and keeping customers in the loyalty loop. The opportunity to build this retention & loyalty engine by optimizing the post-purchase experience, and returns in particular, is tremendous.
Consumers opt for convenience and choice whenever possible, whether it be BOPIS, BORIS, curbside, scheduled pickup — for example, in the payments space, 30% of consumers who tried contactless payments for the first time during the pandemic have stuck with it now that they realize how convenient it is. However, ecommerce, which has never been the most profitable channel for retailers, cannot afford to support all of these options — the P&L can’t balance it, so we need to make choices.
This is a pivotal time in the industry: consumer expectations are rapidly evolving in the post-purchase space, putting pressure on both the consumer experience and on the profitability and scalability of omnichannel P&L’s.
It’s critical to be smarter about how we personalize the post-purchase journey for consumers for both the health of the business and from a sustainability lens, as well as to meet consumer desire for convenience and choice, all while keeping expense management in mind. Given my experience running retail P&Ls, I understand exactly where Narvar adds value for brands and where we should focus to strike that balance. And as I think about all the technology partners I’ve worked with over the years, Narvar has stood out as one of the best: able to be nimble and innovate quickly to adapt to the evolving market and customer demand.
I’m excited to bring value to the company with my years of living at the intersection of retail operations and digital to make some really important disruptions in terms of trends that are absolutely needed, while also working to scale a company in high growth mode, build a great culture, build a great product, and truly delight our customers and consumers.
As I think about all the technology partners I’ve worked with over the years, Narvar has stood out as one of the best: able to be nimble and innovate quickly to adapt to the evolving market and customer demand.
Beyond the business and personal growth opportunity, what I truly care about is building and leading great teams. The one here at Narvar is fantastic — I know and love so many of them already — but the company is at a pivotal point in its exponential growth, when preserving and building a healthy and diverse culture while scaling rapidly is a balance we need to strike to succeed. I am looking forward to contributing heavily to make sure we scale in a healthy way!
Another piece of the company and culture that stood out for me is the fact that there is a really good representation of women on the executive leadership team at Narvar, which feels like a healthy place to be and an important part of my personal mission.
There’s always more to learn and do regardless of where one goes, but the opportunity that Narvar represents to drive real disruptive change in retail by putting the consumer at the center, along with the opportunity to work with a pioneer and friend in Amit, whom I greatly respect and genuinely enjoy being around, means we’ll be able to build great things together and have fun doing it.
Anisa Kumar is Chief Customer Officer at Narvar. She's a recognized leader in global operations, analytics, and strategy with over 20 years as a retail executive, most recently as SVP & MD of Levi’s US D2C business.