- Williams-Sonoma Inc. on Monday announced the appointment of Yasir Anwar as chief technology officer, reporting to president and CEO Laura Alber.
- Anwar will lead all technology aspects of the company’s digital experience, retail stores and supply chain, and will oversee the company’s Outward Inc. subsidiary, according to a company press release.
- He has led various retail organizations through major transformations that include building platforms and capabilities, and re-engineering large and legacy systems, the company said. Anwar most recently was CTO at Macy’s. Prior to that, he led platform engineering at Walmartlabs, and for a time he was head of engineering for Walmart's Samsclub.com and led architecture for Walmart.com.
While consumers may think of Williams-Sonoma's various brands as cozy, home-centric furniture and home goods destinations, technology is increasingly becoming part of their respective propositions, as well as critical to the company's operations.
In November, as one example, Williams-Sonoma acquired for $112 million Outward, a 3-D imaging technology company that had previously produced an augmented reality app with its Pottery Barn unit as well as other Williams-Sonoma projects.
The company hopes Anwar can help the company make good on its digital efforts. “With his strong engineering and digital background, Yasir will accelerate our initiatives to improve customer satisfaction in all channels and drive supply chain efficiencies," Alber said. "His deep understanding of e-commerce combined with his innovative and collaborative spirit are ideal for leading our technology strategies and teams.”
The augmented reality battle is accelerating as more retailers have launched AR apps using Apple’s ARkit technology platform. Pottery Barn's AR app, one of the earliest ones, launched last March. With so many retailers, including Build.com, Houzz, Wayfair, Overstock and others all taking fairly similar approaches, the apps themselves are quickly becoming ubiquitous, and retailers are likely looking for ways to differentiate their AR features.
That could mean plays for both quality and quantity: the caliber of the 3-D images and the size of the image library. Wayfair, for example, has been aggressive in establishing a large 3-D image library, and Williams-Sonoma may be intent on doing the same.
Williams-Sonoma, Inc. runs eight distinct merchandise strategies through its Williams Sonoma, Pottery Barn, Pottery Barn Kids, West Elm, PBteen, Williams Sonoma Home, Rejuvenation and Mark and Graham, units — all marketed through e-commerce websites, direct mail catalogs and retail stores. Anwar is charged with making sure the technological pieces of that puzzle work together smoothly.