Meet Shannon Andrick, vice president of marketing and loyalty advancement at Alliance Data, one of our amazing sponsors at the 2019 Women in Retail Leadership Summit. In this interview with Women in Retail Leadership Circle, Andrick shares details about her role at Alliance Data as well as her leadership style, recent industry research findings, the retail trends she’s closely tracking, who has influenced her during her life, and more!

Women in Retail Leadership Circle: Please tell us about your career journey. Where did you work before Alliance and what led you there?
Shannon Andrick: My career has truly been rooted in retail, beginning at the age of 16 when I worked in various mall-based stores like Champs Sporting Goods, Thom McAn Shoes, and J.C. Penney. When I was in college, a family member tipped me off to a merchandise coordinator position at Consolidated Stores (now Big Lots), and after starting in the role, I knew I’d found my passion. I moved up the ranks to become a merchant, and after eight years at Big Lots, I took a position at Target. That job allowed me be very creative and learn more about branding. From there I joined Bath and Body Works, where I gained broad operational exposure as a director of retail merchandising.

I joined Alliance Data in 2011 in a client-facing position, leading the strategic direction for our brand partners’ credit programs and driving sales and customer loyalty through marketing and CRM strategies. I moved to Alliance Data’s marketing team in 2014, first focusing exclusively on marketing strategy, and ultimately leading the marketing advancement team.

WIRLC: Please tell us about Alliance Data, and your role with the company.
SA: Alliance Data develops market-leading private-label, co-brand, and business credit card programs for many of the world’s most recognizable brands. We use our branded credit programs to build more profitable relationships between brands and their card members, and drive lasting loyalty. Simply put, we’re marketing and loyalty experts whose brand promise is Know more. Sell more.® That means we use the most comprehensive data assets in the market to bring a 360-degree view of the customer, ultimately helping our brand partners increase sales and loyalty. As vice president of marketing and loyalty advancement, I’m focused on conveying Alliance Data’s competitive advantage to a wide range of stakeholders. I love getting to help tell the story of our deliberately different, innovative organization.

WIRLC: I know Alliance recently published a report call the “Great Divide.” Can you tell us about the report and the top learnings from it.
SA: Retail is in an era of innovation and disruption, and our team at Alliance Data was interested in learning where consumers’ expectations had changed in the brand communications and marketing experience. At the same time, we wondered what core needs had stayed the same and, most of all, if brands are on the same page as their customers. We surveyed more than 2,500 consumers and 200 retailers last fall to identify consumers’ needs, determine which are most important, and understand any disconnects between consumers’ and retailers’ priorities.

Three clear themes emerged from our research: simplicity, personalization, and control. Gaps exist between what consumers find valuable in these areas, and how brands are solving for these challenges. When it comes to simplicity, brands are underdelivering in an area that’s very important to consumers. Meanwhile, brands continue to focus on personalization, but it’s not something consumers are finding much value in. And finally, many brands are missing an opportunity to empower consumers, who are seeking more control over their marketing communications experience.

WIRLC: What are some of the retail trends you’re hearing about from your clients?
SA: One of the most interesting trends in the retail experience that has emerged from our recent research is around technology. What we’re hearing from consumers is that they’re genuinely interested in innovations and technology that substantively improve their brand experience — but they don’t want to be distracted by flashy fads. Brands face the challenge of chasing what’s next in a meaningful way, being selective in where they focus their investments in time and resources. Specifically, across all generations, there’s a greater preference for innovation and technology that deliver ease and convenience. For example, buy online, pick up in-store had the highest consumer adoption rate at 31 percent, while virtual reality had the lowest, at 3 percent.

WIRLC: How would you describe your leadership style?
SA: I trust my team to do their job. My role in their success is as advisor, coach and obstacle remover. If you motivate and encourage those around you, they’ll go the extra mile and overdeliver every time.

WIRLC: What are some of your hiring best practices?
SA: I think my team’s secret sauce is the diverse backgrounds of our talent. I don’t want people that are just alike; rather, I look for complementary skills, backgrounds, expertise, and experience to make the whole greater than the sum of its parts.

WIRLC: Who has influenced you most in your life? In your career?
SA: My mother. She served others and expressed true humility. A rare trait these days.

I had a leader once who truly valued each individual as a person first and employee second. She showed me the importance of caring for your team, and gave me support through a very difficult time when my father was ill and eventually passed away. We lived hundreds of miles from my parents and she allowed me to go home frequently, gave me generous time off to be with him, and then after his passing gave me the gift of going back home for Christmas to be with my mom. As a 28-year-old with young children, it taught me a very valuable lesson on how you engender loyalty. I would have walked through fire for her.

WIRLC: If you could give one piece of advice you’ve learned the hard way, what would it be?
SA: It’s OK to make a mistake. Own up to it. LEARN from it. Don’t repeat it.

WIRLC: Tell us a little about your personal life. How do you relax and have fun?
SA: If you ask my family, they’ll tell you I never relax! I enjoy spending time with my family and don’t care as much about what we do as who I am with. The beach is my happy place.