Latest news:

You are currently not logged in

Log in

“I can see the evolution of retail”: Catch’s head of e-commerce

As head of e-commerce at Catch, one of Australia’s biggest online retailers, with $354 million in annual revenue last year, Kate Hatton makes decisions every day that influence the way millions of Australians shop online. But soon, her role could cease to exist.

“I actually think e-commerce as a subject matter will dissolve to some degree because, as it’s more and more understood within retail businesses, it will be more deeply embedded in the same way that store management and visual merchandising is today,” Hatton told Inside Retail in a recent interview. 

“I think that will innately come over the next five or 10 years as businesses truly understand that the first thing a customer sees is on their phone. It’s not actually in the shopping centre.”

“That’s where my heart is”

Hatton got her start in e-commerce in 2012 while studying biotechnology at university.

“I had a friend who had a part-time job in customer service, and they were looking for extra people, and I ended up in a customer service role at Scoopon, which at the time was the biggest e-commerce website in Australia,” she said. 

“I got some great opportunities internally just because of the startup mentality that the business had. Managing the website and managing emails and dipping my toe into Meta and Facebook and all that.”

She sees a lot of similarities between e-commerce and scientific research: forming hypotheses, running experiments, analysing data and coming to conclusions. The advantage of working in a business environment versus a lab is the speed of the results. 

After Scoopon, Hatton held digital marketing and e-commerce roles at Blue Illusion, Cotton On Group, Hairhouse before joining Catch in 2021. She has always been drawn to B2C businesses “because that’s where the data is, and that’s where my heart is”. 

Over the past 12 years, retail has become much more data-driven, and people like Hatton have been in high demand. But as the industry continues to evolve, she believes the next phase of her career could look very different. 

“I can see the evolution of retail being more than just selling a product and moving into more service-based experiences and complementary [areas],” she said. 

“Whilst businesses are only now jumping onto retail media as an ancillary to retail – all of that is fueled by data and technology. I can see myself migrating into that space because I think that’s just going to get more and more interesting.”

Like many e-commerce professionals, Hatton has also spent a lot of time thinking about the potential applications for GenAI in retail. The opportunities to streamline business operations and automate menial tasks are clear, but she believes the real benefits are yet to be discovered. 

“I don’t think retail has worked out how to use it just yet, but once we get it unlocked it’s going to catch like wildfire because businesses are always looking at ways to either drive customer engagement or drive efficiencies, and I think AI is going to sit in both of those spaces,” she said.

Unlocking inclusion

But in contrast to the pace of technological change in Australia’s e-commerce industry, Hatton believes there hasn’t been as much progress when it comes to diversity and inclusion. 

It’s not just gender diversity that’s a problem – though Hatton has often been the only woman in the room. “I think I’ve been in demographic bubbles in lots of ways – whether that’s a cultural bubble, or an age bubble, or a gender bubble, and because of that you end up with groupthink,” she said. 

While there’s a lot of talk about diversity in retail – particularly gender diversity – Hatton believes businesses don’t focus enough on the inclusion part. 

“If we unlocked that, I think you would actually see innovation more collectively across the industry,” she said.

This article is part of Inside Retail’s #IRWD365 campaign to shine a spotlight on inspiring women in Australia’s retail industry and drive tangible change towards gender equality.

No Comments | Be the first to comment

Comment Manually

No comments