Tackling Omnichannel in 2015: Lessons learned in bridging the gap from HBC’s Michael Burgess

Forrester Research has predicted that US online retail will exceed $325 billion in sales in 2015, with web-influenced in store sales totaling more than $1.4 trillion. This growth of online sales, along with the continued importance of physical stores, explains why “omnichannel” has transitioned from a discussion point to a way of life for the biggest retailers in the U.S. The omnichannel future is being driven by a clear evolution in consumer behavior, and the time is now for retailers to bridge the gap between the customer experience online and in store.

As the New Year kicks off, we wanted to share some lessons from a key TellApart client — Michael Burgess, who is leading the path towards this omnichannel future at the $8+ billion North American retailer, Hudson’s Bay Company (HBC). HBC operates Saks Fifth Avenue, Saks Off 5th Outlets and Lord & Taylor in the U.S. and Hudson’s Bay department stores in Canada. Michael reports to the Office of the Chairman and leads ecommerce and digital across all HBC retail businesses.

Recently, our CEO had a great discussion with Michael on stage at Luxury Interactive in New York City to discuss his pioneering efforts to create an omnichannel experience for HBC customers, at every part of their “shopping journey.”



The full conversation (found above) is a great resource for the next set of industry leaders tackling the omnichannel opportunity in 2015 – including:

  • Why omnichannel matters
    Michael shared that Saks.com sees ten times the amount of visitors than all of the brand’s retail locations combined. This is a driving force of HBC’s efforts to embrace and integrate digital into all areas of their business. HBC recognizes that their success in both understanding and evolving with the customer’s shopping journey, from looking up an item on a mobile phone on the train to returning an item in store, will be what keeps them connected and relevant to their shoppers in the years to come.


  • Taking the first steps
    Since taking the helm at HBC Digital a year ago, Michael has worked to break down the silos between teams across HBC, starting by implementing its first-ever omnichannel sales incentives across e-commerce and in-store teams. He followed these efforts by getting more ambitious in bridging gaps between technology and infrastructure systems typically built and operated separately, including both inventory and marketing. This effort is ongoing and complex, but the foundation of one team and aligned objectives being set make embracing the big changes ahead easier, and more fun.


In 2013, venture capitalist and technologist Marc Andreessen proclaimed “software eats retail.”  This perspective spurred many discussions, but the truth is that software won’t eat retail, it will enhance it in important and monumental ways — as highlighted by our board member, Ajay Agarwal of Bain Capital Ventures, and by Reid Hoffman, Co-Founder of LinkedIn (and personal investor in TellApart).

HBC stands out as one of the companies to watch in this evolution, and we look forward to having more great conversations with Michael and other leading retailers tackling the omnichannel opportunity in 2015.