What Crocs and JD Sports executives are saying about the Metaverse, RFID, returns, sustainability and AI

In the Aptos Engage 2023 At last week’s Retail Technology Conference, Todd Steiner, JD Sports’ Chief Information Officer, and Doug Goehl, Croc’s VP of Global Enterprise Applications, answered questions from Aptos Jeremy Grunzweig, General Manager Americas, on topics ranging from customer retention to last mile challenges, returns, sustainability and “hot or not” approaches to trending technologies.

Grünzweig began by asking what keeps technology leaders up at night.

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Steiner responded by stating that the company had an order cancellation rate of 30 percent.

“It’s telling me somewhere along this journey that something isn’t working right,” the JD Sports exec said. “And everyone on this journey thinks it’s someone else’s fault.”

He said that to solve this problem, IT and the CIO would need to go beyond technology and ask what incentives store associates have to fix the cancellation front. The answer was to incentivize stores that perform better.

“As crazy as it sounds, with just this simple change, there can be a drop in cancellation rates,” Steiner said. “It’s not always just the technical issues or challenges … it’s the entire ecosystem and the flow of things that you have to step back and look at, which is difficult.”

As for the equally annoying problem returnsSteiner said there are no easy answers.

“I don’t think anyone has the perfect answer as to how to potentially minimize these external costs bill the customerwhat we don’t want to do,” he said.

Backed by a large number of brick-and-mortar locations, allowing JD Sports to fulfill 70-80 per cent of in-store orders, the UK-based retailer is able to dropship orders to minimize time and costs.

“We prioritize instead of going to the provider against them dropship“If we have one of these products in our network, we will prioritize that one instead of going to the vendor and buying another one,” Steiner said. “So we don’t have to ship it back to the (distribution center) and we don’t have to have that single product outside. We are able to pass that on to the customer and handle it that way.”

On the subject of sustainability, Goehl said Crocs was on track to achieve its goal carbon neutral by 2040, but its takeover in 2021 hey dude forced the company to reconsider its net zero schedule.

“We extended the date to make sure we were authentic and we received some criticism for that because we the date changedGoehl said, adding that environmental protection remains a top priority for Crocs. “We expect to reduce our carbon footprint by about 50 percent over the next five years.”

As for the “hot or not” question of trending technologies, Crocs’ Goehl was bullish generative AIand the metaversebut doubtful compared to RFID.

JD Sports’ Steiner was slightly warmer RFID and a believer generative AIbut didn’t see a large business application for the metaverse.

“I think whether we like it or not, it’s coming,” Steiner said of widespread applications of artificial intelligence technologies. “There are some things we use it on, of course in our call center and we have some things with code support. It’s not quite ready to be commissioned to develop software, but there are some useful tools out there, so I see it making progress.”

Left to right: General Manager of Aptos, Americas, Jeremy Grunzweig, Doug Goehl, Vice President of Global Enterprise Applications at Crocs, and Todd Steiner, Chief Information Officer for JD Sports.

Left to right: General Manager of Aptos, Americas, Jeremy Grunzweig, Doug Goehl, Vice President of Global Enterprise Applications at Crocs, and Todd Steiner, Chief Information Officer for JD Sports.

Steiner said that as much as he would like the metaverse to be relevant to his company, apart from some “new” use cases, he hasn’t seen a strong case for it, but for Crocs, Web3 is a key marketing component, spearheaded by the Crocs World Minigames on Roblox, where players can purchase shoes found in stores.

“Many of our consumers are completely digital and online,” Goehl said. “We were one of the first companies to use it Tick ​​tock where you can actually buy shoes.”

Goehl said Crocs’ three areas of research are gaming and augmented reality, where a user could insert a popular Snapchat feature Crocs on her Bitmoji, and the third includes digital platforms and celebrity collaborations, including with recording artists like Post Malone.

Collaborating with popular personalities and interacting through virtual media “keeps the brand hot,” Goehl said. “So if there’s any real ROI for ‘Hey, we’ve sold a million digital signature products online’ I don’t know if we’re going to make a ton of money from that, but if this consumer group wants to work with us personally, that’s a huge benefit for us.”

Goehl said Crocs didn’t get involved RFID Until recently, some business partners demanded the use of inventory tracking technology. One came from a larger distribution center that asked Crocs to deliver RFID tags in its products to improve sorting and distribution. In response to anticipated biometrics legislation in California and elsewhere, the company has also recently begun research into RFID tags.

Steiner said that before joining JD Sports he worked at Goal The joke was that the company had been piloting RFID for 10 years—and that was 20 years ago.

“There is a practical application for RFID… and in my view, the technology is solid,” Steiner said. “The challenge is how do you deal with the noise? That is, if you are scanning from an inventory standpoint, how do you deal with and exclude the defective or damaged items that are in the back room?”

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