The rising success of Canadian Tire and the lessons to be learned
Canadian Tire recently opened their largest store in the country. Specifically, the new establishment took South Edmonton by storm as the showcase business that is a record 140,000 square feet and stretches across two floors offered the latest merchandising techniques and digital-technology experiences.
This new building is double and even triple the size of some of the company’s other stores, with 100 digital screens, online catalogues and interactive electronics that includes a driving simulator that allows customers the opportunity to virtually test-drive tires in different weather conditions.
Furthermore, the new Canadian Tire provides a seasonal department where customers can conveniently click and drag virtual products that include barbecues and gazebos onto a virtual deck to get a feel for the outside look before actually making a purchase.
It goes without saying that Canadian Tire is doing well—quite well. But what is the store doing that has helped them find success? And should other retailers take note and follow their model?
For starters, the store has opted for a more traditional look, meaning they’ve moved away from that tired and cluttered warehouse feel. Specifically, there are wider aisles and more light—the store is brighter for customers. Furthermore, the vehicle repair shop has been improved, too—there are 19 drive-in auto bays that can automatically measure and display a vehicle’s tire and tread depth.
To hone in on the Edmonton market, products have been tailored to the fit community. For example, key assortment extensions in trucks and trailers are available, as well as tools and outdoor living and an extensive hunting and fishing pro shop.
It’s clear that Canadian Tire had one goal in mind when opening this new store—the customer. Other businesses can (and should) take note of the franchise’s successful techniques. When it comes to choosing products and site designs, the customer should highly be considered. Who will be shopping at the store and what can you offer them?
Sure, price matters, too—customers don’t want to pay an arm and a leg for an item. However, it’s also equally important to have shelves well stocked and a variety of products to choose from. It’s also quite necessary to know your market and target audience—you have to give the community what they want and need in order to be successful.
Marketing matters: from IBM to Kyndryl
Prior to joining Kyndryl as Chief Marketing Officer, Maria had a 25-year career at IBM, most recently as the tech giant’s CMO where she oversaw all marketing professionals and activities across North America, Canada and Latin America. She has held senior global marketing positions in a variety of disciplines and business units across IBM, most notably strategic initiatives in Smarter Cities and Watson Customer Engagement, as well as leading teams in services, business analytics, and mobile and industry solutions. She is known for her work with teams to leverage data, analytics and cloud technologies to build deeper engagements with customers and partners.
With a passion for marketing, business and people, and a recognized expert in data-driven marketing and brand engagement, Maria talks to Business Chief about her new role, her leadership style and what success means to her.
You've recently moved from IBM to Kyndryl, joining as CMO. Tell us about this exciting new role?
I’m Chief Marketing Officer for Kyndryl, the independent company that will be created following the separation from IBM of its Managed Infrastructure Services business, expected to occur by the end of 2021. My role is to plan, develop, and execute Kyndryl's marketing and advertising initiatives. This includes building a company culture and brand identity on which we base our marketing and advertising strategy.
We have an amazing opportunity ahead at Kyndryl to create a company brand that will stand apart in the market by leading with our people first. Once we are an independent company, each Kyndryl employee will advance the vital systems that power human progress. Our people are devoted, restless, empathetic, and anticipatory – key qualities needed as we build on existing customer relationships and cultivate new ones. Our people are at the heart of this business and I am deeply hopeful and excited for our future.
What experiences have helped prepare you for this new opportunity?
I’ve had a very rich and diverse career history at IBM that has lasted 25+ years. I started out in sales but landed explored opportunities at IBM in different roles, business units, geographies, and functions. Marketing and business are my passions and I landed on Marketing because it allowed me to utilize both my left and right brain, bringing together art and science. In college, I was no tonly a business major, but an art major. I love marketing because I can leverage my extensive knowledge of business, while also being able to think openly and creatively.
The opportunities I was given during my time at IBM and my natural curiosity have led me to the path I’m on now and there’s no better next career step than a once-in-a-lifetime-opportunity to help launch a company. The core of my role at Kyndryl is to create a culture centered on our people and growing up in my career at IBM has allowed me to see first-hand how to prioritize people and ensure they are at the heart of progress in everything Kyndryl will do.
How would you describe your leadership style?
I believe that people aren't your greatest assets, they are your only assets. My platform and background for leadership has always been grounded in authenticity to who I am and centered on diversity and inclusion. I immigrated to the US from Chile when I was 10 years old and so I know the power and beauty that comes from leaning into what makes you different from other people, and that's what I want every person in my marketing organization to feel – the value in bringing their most authentic self to work every day. The way our employees feel when they show up for themselves authentically is how they will also show up for our customers, and strong relationships drive growth.
I think this is especially true in light of a world forever changed by the pandemic. Living through such an unprecedented time has reinforced that we are all humans. We can't lead or care for one another without empathy and I think leaders everywhere have been reminded of this.
What’s the best leadership advice you’ve received?
When I was growing up as an immigrant in North Carolina, I often wanted to be just like everyone else. But my mother always told me: Be unique, be memorable – you have an authentic view and experience of the world that no one else will ever have, so don't try to be anyone else but you.
What does success look like to you?
I think the concept of success is multi-faceted. From a career perspective, being in a job where you're respected and appreciated, and where you can see how your contributions are providing value by motivating your teams to be better – that's success! From a personal perspective, there is no greater accomplishment than investing in the next generation. I love mentoring younger professionals – they are the future. I want my legacy as a leader to include providing value in work culture, but also in leaving a personal impact on the lives of professionals who will carry the workforce forward. Finding a position in life with a job and company that offers me a chance at all of that is what success looks like to me.
What advice would you give to your younger self just starting out in the industry?
I've always been a naturally curious person and it's easy for me to over-commit to projects that pique my interest. I've learned over years of practice how to manage that, so to my younger self I’d say… prioritize the things that are most important, and then become amazing at those things.