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The Future of Retail Over The Next Five Years: “Delivery on your terms” With Anees Haidri of Zebra Technologies

Delivery on your terms. Retailers will continue to push the envelope on how to get the customer their product exactly how and when they want it (including returns). Most retailers already support the ability to buy online and pickup in a store but those are becoming even more convenient with locker or curbside pickup. Additionally, delivery […]

Delivery on your terms. Retailers will continue to push the envelope on how to get the customer their product exactly how and when they want it (including returns). Most retailers already support the ability to buy online and pickup in a store but those are becoming even more convenient with locker or curbside pickup. Additionally, delivery to a location versus your home or even straight to your garage or refrigerator is becoming available. Next up is autonomous delivery. All of the options will be at the timing you want, including same day. Interestingly, our study found that 75 percent of shoppers are willing to pay for delivery — with approximately one-third willing to fork out for same day.


I had the pleasure to interview Anees Haidri. Anees is currently the Director of Vertical Strategy for Retail where he is responsible for positioning growth opportunities and providing thought leadership within retail for Zebra Technologies. Anees has more than 15 years of experience within the retail industry and has deployed multiple, large scale solutions to drive successful business outcomes. In addition, Anees has over 20 years of experience in building customer focused mobility solutions within a variety of industries. Previously, he served as a Sr. Director of Technology at The Home Depot, where he managed high performing teams aimed at building customer-focused technology solutions for stores & merchandising. Anees holds a BS in Electrical Engineering from Rutgers University.


Thank you so much for joining us Anees! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

Asa first-year electrical engineering student in 1994 I was fortunate enough to hear an entertaining lecture from a professor who happened to be a part of Bell Labs (the Google of telephony) when the first wireless phones were created. I was accepted to his lab based off a corny essay that described my fascination with the Star Trek communicator and I’ve been in the wireless/mobility space in some fashion ever since.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?

I was lucky enough to be on a project for the Air Force at Eglin Air Force base, responsible for testing wireless network solutions to support laptops for maintenance techs to use on the flight line. Not only was the project right next to Destin Beach in Florida but I got to see F-15s run sorties on a regular basis. Not to mention see inside the cockpit of a Thunderbirds jet.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson or takeaway you learned from that?

I can’t recall a funny mistake but I’m very confident I’ve made many mistakes, both humorous and not so. One thing that I learned much later than I should have was the power of networking and communication. As you grow in your career into positions of leadership, the ability to execute gets replaced by the ability to influence and to do that well requires good communication and networking skills. Finding a way to appreciate that early on is a helpful tool for success.

Are you working on any new exciting projects now? How do you think that might help people?

Of course — there always needs to be something in the hopper that’s exciting. The one for me right now is finding ways to expand our company’s presence inside a retail store. Not only is there great opportunity in that but it will really help retailers win in a currently turbulent industry. That will help a great many companies survive and thrive.

Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?

Retail is a fast-paced environment so pace yourself and it’s also a place ripe to leverage technology so use innovation to help keep things new and interesting.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?

This might be corny, but the biggest catalyst in my career has been my wife, Tasneem. She gave me a reason to appreciate the value in delivering a result and career success always starts with that.

How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?

Hopefully, as a part of teams, there have been a few lessons passed on and a few careers nurtured.

Ok super. Now let’s jump to the main question of our interview. Can you share 5 examples of how retail companies will be adjusting over the next five years to the new ways that consumers like to shop?

  1. At your pleasure shopping. Retailers will continue to find easier ways for customers to get access to their catalog and make a purchase. Our 12th annual Global Shopper Study found that online purchases will increase 8 percent in the next 5 years. Additionally, mobile phone access is starting to take over computer-based access and soon, other tools like home assistants and subscriptions will gain mainstream traction. Finally, it’s fair to assume that virtual reality tools will someday make the experience of walking to a store or store fronts from anywhere possible.
  2. Delivery on your terms. Retailers will continue to push the envelope on how to get the customer their product exactly how and when they want it (including returns). Most retailers already support the ability to buy online and pickup in a store but those are becoming even more convenient with locker or curbside pickup. Additionally, delivery to a location versus your home or even straight to your garage or refrigerator is becoming available. Next up is autonomous delivery. All of the options will be at the timing you want, including same day. Interestingly, our study found that 75 percent of shoppers are willing to pay for delivery — with approximately one-third willing to fork out for same day.
  3. Just for you selection. Retailers are already finding ways online to help shoppers make the buying choice that’s best for them by providing ratings, reviews and alternative/additive products that they might like. This will expand greatly as retailers get better and better at using data to help shoppers, and this means products on the shelf in stores will be more tailored to an individual’s personal community, and prices or promotions to that specific shopper. The best brands will make shoppers feel like they have their own personal shopper, allowing customers to focus on just reaping the value of their purchase.
  4. Intelligent automation. It’s not only just about the customer; the retailer needs to get more efficient. In order to meet the demands of a new retail industry and have more resources to take care of the customer, retailers need to automate, and now they can do that more intelligently. Machine learning will be highly leveraged to determine the best ways to merchandise and supply products. It will also be used to determine how well operational processes are being executed and where improvements can be found. Computer vision will be used to help alleviate labor tasks in the middle of aisles or even at the checkout lane. Robotics will help to automate repetitive tasks such as picking product for orders or shipments. In fact, our research shows that almost 26 percent of retailers are already currently providing some level of robotic assistance with 29 percent looking to incorporate the technology within the next year. And, finally sensing devices that help locate assets or workers will be leveraged to fine tune operations.
  5. True omnichannel, tech-driven retailer. The retail business is changing at breakneck speeds both because of the demands of the consumer and the technology innovation that supports that demand. A modern, next-generation retailer will not succeed if they maintain the lines between channels; rather, they must see themselves as a brand that delivers great product, great value and a great experience. To do this, retailers must change their organizational structures to eliminate silos, they must embrace change and applaud the value of failing fast; and finally, they must embrace technology as the best tool they have to improve their business.

You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

In the context of work, success is defined not by the amount you accomplish but by the amount you help others while doing so.

How can our readers follow you on social media? You can follow me on LinkedIn.

This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!

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