In the midst of a multi-faceted digital transformation, BJ’s Wholesale Club is focused on offering convenience and value for its members. Recently appointed as the company’s first Chief Digital Officer, Rafeh Masood sat down with Retail TouchPoints for an exclusive and enlightening Q&A.
Masood also will be presenting during the Retail Innovation Conference, May 1-2 in New York City, where he’ll share details on how he has been able to transform the culture and build out the digital team at BJ’s.
A few key facts moving BJ’s securely into the next-gen digital retail arena:
- Rafeh Masood joined the company as Chief Digital Officer less than a year ago, moving from DICK’S Sporting Goods.
- Masood’s team is focused on building a world-class digital experience for BJ’s members across all channels.
- In September 2017 BJ’s launched two new web sites for its private brands, Berkley Jensen and Wellsley Farms. Shoppers can access the new PICK UP & PAY service on the sites, to reserve non-perishable products online and pick up in-store within two hours.
- In February 2018, Naveen Seshadri joined Masood’s team in the newly created position of Vice President, Digital Commerce and Experience. Seshadri moved from the role of COO at Lonely Planet and has held senior management positions at Sears Holdings.
Retail TouchPoints (RTP): You hit the ground running when you joined BJ’s nine months ago. What have been some of the highlights?
Rafeh Masood: We have been focused on making shopping BJ’s more convenient, letting our members shop how and when they want. In the last seven months, we accelerated our efforts and launched multiple digital initiatives including our mobile app to bring convenience to our members. Besides accessing your membership details and shopping on bjs.com, the app makes it easy to clip coupons and load them onto their card. We have since seen hundreds of thousands of downloads and our members have been voting us with a 4+ star rating on both the Apple and Google store.
RTP: As the first Chief Digital Officer at BJ’s, how was the transition? Have you been able to complete the projects you had in mind?
Masood: There was no question that BJ’s had made a lot of progress in the digital space. We offered experiences like pick up and pay and the ability to shop bjs.com. I was impressed with the talent and passion that was already in place for building amazing experiences for our members. Since joining BJ’s, we have built out Product Management and User Experience teams to transition from “project” thinking to “product” thinking, where we focus on continuously evolving member experience. Naveen, our new VP of Digital Commerce, has been brought onto the team to unlock the potential with the digital capabilities we are building out.
RTP: What did it take to get buy-in on your initiatives from key stakeholders in the company?
Masood: We painted the “art of the possible” with videos, internal social network and newsletters. We embraced startup mentality and reorganized into smaller product teams that are empowered to move fast but expected to operate with hyper transparency. We socialize all decisions and the teams are thoughtful to plan the work and work the plan.
The digital teams work in an open space in our headquarters with the goal to improve communications and drive faster decisions. Every Friday afternoon we also host “Show and Tell,” which is open to the entire company to come and experience the capabilities that we are building out.
RTP: You describe BJ’s industry segment as “Value Retailing.” Can you share your definition of “Value Retailing” and which retail companies you believe fit into that segment other than BJ’s?
Masood: Our members are looking for the best value on top quality products. Through our digital experiences, we are making it easier for our members to access that value and shop the club. For example, our mobile app features Add-to-Card coupons, a tool that allows members to digitally select their coupons and add them to the Membership card — no paper coupons required.
RTP: How have you factored in the competition in your digital strategy?
Masood: We continue to focus on what is right for our member. Our digital strategy revolves around enhancing our member experience by focusing on convenience. Member feedback is an important component of our process. For example, we are currently piloting mobile deli ordering in our Northborough location, where members can place a deli order and pick it up within 20 minutes. We are actively seeking feedback from our members to continue to fine-tune the experience before we roll out to other clubs.
RTP: What are the “5 S” principles and how are you using them as part of your transformation strategy at BJ’s?
Masood: The 5 S’s stand for Speed, Simplicity, Scalability, Support and Security. It is a filter that we apply to all our digital tech initiatives. We move fast but are not reckless and these principles help us stay that way.
RTP: What do you believe is going to be the role of mobile technologies and devices in retail moving forward? How important a role are they playing at BJ’s?
Masood: Mobile is the remote of how customers are interacting with the brands, whether in stores/clubs or outside. More and more consumers are starting their research on mobile and mobile is also gaining speed on the commerce front. We have made significant improvements to our mobile experiences (mobile site and app) and will continue to make this experience more convenient for our members.
RTP: What motivates you personally in your role as Chief Digital Officer at BJ’s?
Masood: I love our company, people and what we stand for. I have been blessed to work with an amazing group of people who are passionate to do the right thing for our members. We have a great opportunity to continue to evolve our digital experiences and our members are voting with clicks and taps. It is an exciting time to be at BJ’s Wholesale and I am happy to be part of this amazing company with a rich history of delivering value to our members.
RTP: Have there been any mentors who have helped you along the way in your career?
Masood: My dad has been the biggest influence on my career. His work ethic, sense of responsibility and integrity has played an early role in shaping how I perceive work. Over the years, I have also had the fortune of working with top-notch leaders, mentors and teams who have helped me grow and get to where I am today.