Coworking with Nikki Baird

She’s VP of strategy at Aptos
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Nikki Baird

· 3 min read

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Nikki Baird has spent over 15 years as a retail industry analyst, starting with firms like Forrester before co-founding her own, Retail Systems Research. Now, she’s VP of strategy at retail solutions provider Aptos—read on to find out what her role entails.

How would you describe your job to someone who doesn’t work in retail? I look after the future, and interpret what it means for both retailers and how our solutions help retailers. For the average consumer, it means that I look at all the new ways you want to engage with retailers and figure out how much retailers will have to change in order to continue to meet your continuously rising expectations.

One thing we can’t guess about your job from your LinkedIn profile? I was WFH long before the pandemic—over 20 years now.

What’s your favorite project you’ve worked on? We invested a lot of time and effort in defining out some forward-looking consumer experiences—things that blended digital and store, like “See it on Instagram, buy it in store” or “Shop Serena Williams’s locker” as examples. We designed them down to the screen-by-screen interaction that a consumer would have. It was a goldmine of things to put on our roadmap for the foreseeable future, and it was really fun to dream it, but then see how we might actually make it come to life.

Which emerging retail trend are you most excited about this year, and why? Rethinking the role of the store associate. It’s been long overdue—right before the pandemic hit, I think retail had hit an all-time low, where a front-line job had gone from something you could make a career out of, to a disposable job with disposable pay. The pandemic and the labor crunch that has come since have refocused retailers on putting meaning back into front line jobs at a time when retail is seeing pressure to change how store associates interact with everything from customers to inventory to technology. 

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What’s your go-to coffee order? I live in the suburbs, my go-to coffee place will be totally obvious from the order itself: a tall, double-shot latte with two Splenda.

Worst piece of advice you’ve received? Going into college, I was told if I didn’t know what I wanted to do for a career, I should focus on taking classes in subjects that I enjoyed. That’s terrible advice, exacerbated today by just how expensive it is to use college to figure that out. Find jobs that sound interesting, research them and what it takes to get there, and then go do that (though, if it turns out that along the way, you hate the classes you have to take or the things you have to do, that may be a sign you need to re-evaluate your analysis.)

What was your favorite retail product when you were 15, and what’s your favorite retail product now? The one product I enjoy using the most now is my iPhone. I feel like a more productive person because of the things I can do with my iPhone. When I was 15, there was no such thing—call waiting was a huge innovation of the time, which meant I could talk to my friends all night without getting into trouble for hogging the phone. I was big into music, so my money went mostly to cassette tapes at that time. Not to date myself or anything.

Stay up to date on the retail industry

All the news and insights retail pros need to know, all in one newsletter. Join over 180,000 retail professionals by subscribing today.