Starbucks taps former Sam's Club chief as COO
Starbucks Corporation announced on Wednesday that Rosalind Brewer will serve as group president and chief operating officer effective Oct. 2, according to a company press release.
Brewer stepped down as President and CEO of Sam’s Club in February and is a Starbucks board member, with more than 30 years of management experience and more than 10 years of experience leading multi-national retailers, according to a company press release.
Brewer will lead the company’s operating businesses across Canada, the U.S. and Latin America, as well as the global functions of supply chain, product innovation and store development organizations, Starbucks said. She will report to Starbucks president and CEO Kevin Johnson (who held the COO position before becoming CEO in April) and join the company’s senior leadership team.
Brewer is the first woman and person of color in the top ranks at Starbucks, and isn’t even that much of a coffee drinker, according to the Seattle Times. But she brings top-notch digital and omnichannel chops at a time when Starbucks is struggling to keep up with the success of its own mobile app.
So many people order through the app, that is, that may stores are scrambling to swiftly fulfill incoming orders while also dealing with walk-in customers. Starbucks was one of the more aggressive retailers in supporting mobile payments, as well as Mobile Order & Pay, and more recently the company took another step — if a small, safe one — by implementing cashierless checkout in a company store. Anyone who wants to see how mobile order and payments continue to influence the shape of brick-and-mortar stores to come, Starbucks is probably the retailer to follow.
"Starbucks is a culture-first company focused on performance and Roz is a world class operator and executive who embodies the values of Starbucks," Johnson said in a statement. "She has been a trusted strategic counselor to me ever since she joined our board of directors, and I deeply value her insight, business acumen, and leadership expertise. Roz is the right leader to help us realize our greatest of ambitions in this next chapter of our journey."
Highlights of Brewer’s tenure at Sam's Club include the launch last year of next-day delivery of office supplies in the Dallas, Tulsa and Miami markets, after surveys found that a significant portion of Sam’s Club members were very small businesses owned by women who often shell out their own personal funds for supplies.
Also, as of September last year, all 645 U.S. Sam’s Club stores support scan-and-go mobile checkout service. While in the store, a shopper scans each item's barcode through an application downloaded to an iPhone or Android phone; the app keeps a running tally of the items in the cart, and offers checkout and payment capabilities. Shoppers show the receipt on their phone to a Sam's Club employee as they leave to prove they’ve paid for all of the items.
In June last year, Sam's Club also turned to the Salesforce Sales Cloud platform to migrate many of its business membership functions from manual, paper-based processes to a more flexible, automated digital model that it says will improve productivity of the store's membership teams and enable more integration between physical and digital shopping experiences.
Brewer's move to Starbucks bodes well for the implementation of the retailer's digital initiatives.
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