It’s 8 a.m. in New York City and a spandex-clad SoulCycle instructor is doing body rolls on her spin bike. Her pedaling doesn’t miss a beat to the Whitney Houston remix booming from the speakers.
Despite the cacophony of noise and distractions — there’s a different dance-spin-hybrid-thing every 20 seconds — Stephan Schambach, founder and chief executive officer of NewStore, remains composed and appears unperturbed by the varying levels of intensity demanded from the highly enthusiastic fitness instructor.
This cucumber-calm sensibility is consistent with Schambach’s approach to his daily rigors, which currently encapsulate broadening NewStore’s footprint in a highly organic, intuitive nature. This isn’t his first foray into delivering new solutions to near-devastated retailers. Having started Demandware — before selling it to Salesforce for $2.8 billion in 2016 — Schambach is one of the founding fathers of e-commerce as it’s known today.
“Like with many industries, there are several aspects of our business and product that have to come together in the commerce world in order to produce a global solution. Silicon Valley, New York City and Boston have distinct benefits for start-up companies when it comes to venture capital,” said Schambach. “Having a company headquartered in the U.S. is an advantage even in international markets, and I’ve leveraged that for years. We are currently selling only into the U.S. market, and when we are ready for expansion into brands selling overseas, our Berlin location will be an ideal beachhead for expansion into the European market.”
From deciphering the best way to endure a grueling set of hills during spin class to approaching the complexities current to many retailers and brands, Schambach comes at these challenges as an investigator for the solutions, not a deal maker or fix-all.
“NewStore’s growth will be driven by the digitization of retail. Gone are the days of shopping on your desktop computer and waiting patiently for the mailman to deliver a package. Today’s modern shopper spends more time on their mobile device than any other activity. Eighty percent of time spent on smartphones is spent in apps, and studies show that nearly half of the people who shop on mobile prefer using apps over the mobile browser,” Schambach said.
Over breakfast, Schambach rehashes a recent c-level breakfast with NewStore’s chief marketing officer, Phil Granof and Casey Antonelli, director of public relations. The solutions-provider hosts recurring breakfasts to an intimate group of customers and prospects in order to learn about current pain points.
“There are dozens of popular brands that have great online presence, but don’t have branded, native apps — this shows a massive disconnect between the mobile commerce landscape and what consumers want,” said Schambach. “Retailers need help with the technological aspect of connecting to the new generation of shoppers who are using mobile devices for everything they do. We’ve all become ‘Millennial-ized.’ Consumers want instant gratification, and mobile is the facilitator.”
Granof recalled Schambach’s friendly interjection of the dinner conversation followed by unloading how he was going to be “fashion’s best friend.” Schambach then went on to highlight what’s needed for retailers to succeed in the challenging market: for starters, the relinquishment of siloed departments to fully execute omnichannel experiences for shoppers — championed by the c-level.
“While the global economy is a concern for most business leaders today, it’s not affecting NewStore. Digital commerce has sidestepped economic woes, and will continue to forge ahead. You could say our industry has a shield of armor against the economy,” said Schambach.
With offices in Boston, New York, and Berlin, Schambach is always on the go. This isn’t to say that he’s distracted; instead his mobility contributes to the overwhelming boots-on-the-ground sentiment detected throughout the entire organization.
This is realized in his one-on-one meetings with various team members. For example, during a meeting with a sales director for a debrief on a call with an unnamed, but very popular brand undergoing a transitional period, Schambach doesn’t inquire about the bottom line, but instead how NewStore can bolster the brand’s mobile experiences.
“While NewStore is headquartered in Boston, we have our largest office in Berlin, where the majority of our engineering and product development teams are based. Berlin is a magnet for young people, much like San Francisco used to be, but it has a much more affordable cost of living that attracts premium talent. Its allure has been a major driver in our successful search for talent. In fact, eighty percent of our applicant pool consists of talent from countries outside of Germany,” he continued.
Where some ceos might be concerned with the suite of services purchased, Schambach is yes, thoughtful in the success of his company, but not to the downfall or misleading of his customers. His sales meeting recaps review the holistic needs of the company, the feedback of the team, and how NewStore can bring business back to the brands. He’s a solution provider unto himself.
And while Schambach prepares before the day’s end to return to Boston, where Newstore’s North American headquarters is located, the ceo is far from finished analyzing the landscape for present and future customers. As NewStore continues to erupt in success and inserts solvents to retail’s many gaping wounds, the challenges are taken in stride — or body roll — all in the name of improvement.
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