Changing retail through people, not just platform

Posted by Katrina Coskie on September 13, 2018

As someone who has grown up in retail, I’ve learned a lot over the years as a retail associate, supervisor, manager, leader, and now director. One thing was always consistent throughout my journey: being in the service industry is difficult.

As a retail employee, you work when others are out enjoying their weekends, you work overnight, you get yelled at, you’re always on stage, and you’re shackled by policies and procedures. We have viral memes of “Can I speak to a manager” and customers losing their cool in retail stores. Have you ever taken a moment to stop and wonder what would cause a person to behave this way? I have, and what I’ve come up with is the culture of retail is generally toxic for both the employee and the customer.

Retailers, retail employees, and consumers are pitted at odds against one another every day. Promotional strategies, return policies, retail employee policies—they all create a cat and mouse game for the customer and the retail employee.  

b8ta is striving to change the face of retail and approach the customer and the product maker in a very new way. The fundamental platform of b8ta alleviates a large portion of this push and pull between customer and retailer. However, there’s more to it than that. As we’ve grown and expanded this company there’s something central that I believe sets us apart from all others: our culture. A large part of turning the retail industry on its ear has a lot to do with how we build culture internally and create an environment that is fun, challenging, and engaging for our team members.

These are a few reasons why the culture at b8ta is so strong:


1. Our team members are connected.

Across the country, store to store, and with our San Francisco home office. They have immediate access to anyone in the company at their fingertips. A lot of companies utilize messaging apps to maintain connection, but those rarely filter down to the retail teams.  At b8ta, they do (we love Slack!). Our team members are able to share instant feedback, innovative ideas to improve our business, get technical support, and they can even DM the CEO and founders directly and are encouraged to do so.  There are b8ta testers working from coast to coast who have never met one another, but have built strong working relationships at every level of the organization.

2. Our team members are empowered.  

As a retail employee (both associate and leadership level), I have always been frustrated by the lack of empowerment for team members. You hear it everyday, everywhere you go.

“I’m sorry, I’ll have to speak with my manager to resolve this for you.”

“Just a moment while I call for a manager.”

“I’m sorry, but that’s our policy.”  

These employees are doing exactly what they have been instructed to do. At b8ta, we empower our teams to make good business decisions on behalf of the company. Everyone in our company is a shareholder and vested in the success of the organization. As such, who better to decide in the moment what is right for a particular situation? In our hiring strategies, we’re looking for driven, entrepreneurial, and smart folks. When we find them, why would we not let them exercise those skills? There are no “manager overrides” at b8ta.

3. Our team members are treated with dignity.

As a retail leader, more than half my time was spent enforcing time and attendance, dress code, and fraternization policies. This was time taken away from the customer experience and team member development. Much like Mary Barra of General Motors, we’ve adopted a “dress appropriately” dress code. In lieu of a traditional time and attendance policy, our team members are expected to be reliable for their peers and customers. We don’t rely on points or tardies to manage performance, instead we focus on overall performance and patterns of behavior.  

At the end of the day, our goal is to treat our employees like the professionals that they are.  We hire talented, intelligent individuals from all types of backgrounds and create space for them to build exceptional relationships with our customers. The result: the best possible experience both for our customers and our employees.



b8ta is Retail as a Service: you provide the vision, we provide the retail experience that meets your needs. With our retail subscription models you can scale up or down as your business grows or pivots. Set up shop for the consumers you want, we do the rest. Learn more at