20 Questions with Chris Hull
In a new series from Endear, we interview retail experts to get their take on a variety of industry-specific questions - 20 of them, to be exact. Our first interview in this series is with Chris Hull. Chris has worked at some of the top brands in retail, including Nike, Shinola, and now DTC accessories brand, Rothy's. With over 20 years in the industry, he has positioned himself as an expert on retail tech and a thought leader on how the industry is evolving. Here he shares his story on how he got into the game and where he believes it is headed next over the course of 20 Questions with Endear.
Did you ever work in a retail store?
Yes. My mother's office product store in Small Town, USA.
Hood River Stationers in Hood River, OR where Chris Hull got his start - and formerly owned by his mother.
What's the best part about working in retail? Or the worst?
Best: Interacting with consumers to learn what they do/don't like. Worst: restocking the merchandising... I had to restock hundreds of Hallmark cards every Saturday at my mother's store.
In five words or less, how would you describe the future of retail?
Retail will be modernized
What's your favorite way to be approached as a shopper? Or least favorite?
Favorite: a pleasant greeting but not asking, "what can I help you with?" Least favorite: a sales associated following me around!
In your opinion, what are some of the most important qualities or skills someone working in retail can have?
Being affable, given honest recommendations (sometimes the truth hurts but can lead to more trust and more sales), thanking the consumer post transaction... that can go along way to loyalty.
Tell us about an experience you had with a particularly noteworthy customer.
I always enjoy when someone doesn't know about the "brand story," and when you explain and they are just so delighted and excited. Not only will they purchase but they will spread the story!
"Suit Supply [has a special approach to retail]. They have great recommendations when in store, I can see all my transactions online, and they treat me like I am meaningful (when I am not)!"
Fill in the blank: "Working in retail is great, unless you _____, then don't even think about it!"
don't like to stand on your feet
Name a brand you think has a particularly great or unique approach to retail right now.
Suit Supply. They have great recommendations when in store, I can see all my transactions online and they treat me like I am meaningful (when I am not)!
Niketown Portland ... was the definition of retail theater. That probably led to my 15 year career at Nike.
What's the last thing you bought while shopping online?
A Yeti Cooler to go camping over Memorial Day. It came in 2 days. Amazing!
What store(s) are you shopping IRL right now?
Local stores in Park City, UT. I am trying to support the entrepreneurs like my mother.
What was your favorite store/mall to shop as a kid?
Niketown Portland. It was the original. It was the definition of retail theater. That probably led to my 15 year career at Nike.
What was your first "big" retail purchase?
I bought a pair of shoes on Rodeo Drive. I didn't even care for the shoes, I just wanted to buy something on that famous street and they were 50% off. I was around 15.
What technology trend do you think will have the largest impact on retail over the next 5 years? Over the next 20?
Next 5 years: anything that derisks how brands go to market - from the inventory they buy to the 1:1 to consumer interactions. Next 20: on-demand product creation that leads to more sustainable production and product.
What's a current retail trend you're excited about?
Engaging more closely with your consumer. The days of "if I build it, they will come" feel over!
What's the best piece of advice you've gotten while working in retail?
The Consumer Decides
Fill in the blank: "Shoppers today will never appreciate the art of _______."
Fill in the blank: "Ecommerce is to stores as ______ is to ______."
peanut butter is to jelly