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Nordstrom CIO hires former Amazon exec as CTO

Clint Boulton | April 4, 2016
Nordstrom hires Kumar Srinivasan, who will work with CIO Dan Little to help streamline and improve the fashion retailer's merchandise and supply chain software.

Nordstrom has hired as CTO former entrepreneur and manager Kumar Srinivasan, who will work to improve technology operations for a fashion retailer whose profits have plunged recently. Nordstrom said Srinivasan's experience cultivating agile development and implementing cloud software will help shape its "technology agenda."

Nordstrom CTO Kumar Srinivasan.
Nordstrom CTO Kumar Srinivasan.

"We're bringing Kumar to Nordstrom at an important time as we are positioning our technology organization to better support our long-term growth plans," said Nordstrom CIO Dan Little in a statement.

The company said Srinivasan will make technology more efficient, optimizing engineering and software productivity across Nordstrom's service and experience, loyalty and marketing, engineering and supply chain units. He will identify and develop opportunities that "deliver a competitive advantage and bottom-line returns," the company said.

Retailers’ tale of woe starts and stops with Amazon

Technology restructurings have become a familiar story for retailers struggling to compete with, whose widening selection and speedy delivery have eroded sales at brick-and-mortar rivals. Target and Wal-Mart Stores are jockeying to find the right mix of physical and digital touchpoints with which to entice consumers. Wal-Mart has rebuilt its technology stack, while Target is upgrading its supply chain software. Some 68 percent of retailers Forrester Research surveyed said they boosted their spending on commerce technology between 2014 and 2015.

[ Related: What you can learn from Nordstrom’s use of the cloud ]

Nordstrom declined's requests for interviews with Little and Srinivasan.

But its public statements and actions suggest a sharp focus on instituting nimble business processes and eliminating projects that aren't generating value. Nordstrom bolstered online sales and market-share gains in 2015 but its profits dropped 17 percent to $600 million while expenses rose 10 percent for the full year ending in January. GeekWire reported that Nordstrom laid off 120 people in March, which included an undisclosed number of employees on its technology team -- a curiosity at a time when most tech departments can't hire talent fast enough.

“With our increased investments to gain market share along with the changing business model, expenses in recent years have grown faster than sales," said Nordstrom CFO Michael Koppel during a conference call with financial analysts in February.

Koppel said Nordstrom will focus on fewer, more meaningful projects, such as a merchandising solution that supports seamless integration across multiple channels. He also said the company is accelerating efforts to "re-platform our architecture to streamline development while reducing costs." This year, Nordstrom plans to spend $300 million on technology and ecommerce – the same sum it spent in 2015.

Nordstrom cuts its teeth on many things


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