Up Close is Sourcing Journal’s regular check-in with industry executives to get their take on topics ranging from personal style to their company’s latest moves. In this Q&A, Ronen Lazar, CEO and co-founder of excess inventory software firm InTurn, explains why COVID-19 has heightened the need for digitization and how his company builds employee trust.
Name: Ronen Lazar
Title: CEO and co-founder
Which other industry has the best handle on the supply chain? What can apparel learn?
This relates to use of data, supply chain agility and their approach to innovation. Although accurate demand forecasting and effective demand planning have been a challenge for the CPG space, the fast moving nature of the category requires product manufacturers to leverage data to adapt their strategies.
How would you describe yourself as a consumer?
I always describe myself as a customer on a mission. You will rarely see me in a shopping mall, unless I’m tagging along with someone. I generally know what I want and look to spend as little time as possible shopping so I can shift focus back to other things.
As a consumer, what does it take to win your loyalty?
Product quality, good value and a consistent customer experience win my loyalty. I also can’t recall the last time I purchased anything at full price.
What’s your typical uniform?
I settle on comfort during the work week—jeans, sneakers, casual shirt and hoodie, much like you’d find across the startup ecosystem. Weekends are a little different. On Saturday, you’d find me dressed in more formal attire in honor of Shabbat.
Which fashion era is your favorite?
The ’80s is definitely my favorite fashion era. It’s when some of the most well-known American brands such as Nike, Levi’s and Tommy Hilfiger became household names.
Who’s your style icon?
Sean Connery—he created the style for all Bond characters moving forward.
What’s the best decision your company has made in the last year?
The best decision we’ve made in the last year was to double down on investing in building a next-generation enterprise platform. It has proven to unlock considerable value for our customers and has set InTurn up for considerable growth ahead, especially considering the volatility in the market.
How would you describe your corporate culture?
InTurn’s company culture is values, community and trust-driven. Values such as respect, transparency and excellence are critical, and we make key decisions based on these values. On a more personal level, many of our employees have become friends, which is representative of our culture also being relationship driven. It’s incredible watching super-smart talent that deeply cares for one another collaborate. Like any startup, there are ups and downs. To be most effective, we survey frequently and listen carefully. This builds trust across the company.
What can companies learn from COVID-19?
It’s time to quadruple down on digital capabilities.
What should be the apparel industry’s top priority now?
Fashion is a known as a late adopter of technology. In general, the entire way that business is done needs an overhaul. Many in the business are self-described merchants with a “nose” for the business. Some of the most successful investors and operators in the apparel and footwear space acknowledge that they “lost their smell.”
Companies should be expediting migration into digitally driven business by reallocating resources and reshuffling the organization to support this transformation.
Some examples include: leveraging data to power their decisions on what to make, agile PLM solutions to get to market more frequently, next-gen logistics companies to get inventory to market faster, sales platforms so teams can operate efficiently and remotely.
What keeps you up at night?
People who are stuck in their past behaviors and can’t get out of their own way. I think JFK said it well: “Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future.”
What makes you most optimistic?
Being part of a community of activators who are capable of turning thoughts, ideas and concepts into action, and make things happen without being afraid of not knowing all the details. In today’s volatile environment where the status quo is no longer an option, creating new and revolutionary ways of doing things is critical.
Tell us about your company’s latest product introduction/service:
InTurn is the only enterprise software solution that empowers brands to efficiently sell slow-moving and excess inventory across industries. By streamlining workflows and providing a system of record, InTurn’s platform reduces inefficiencies and improves product margins.