Last year, Aanan Contractor joined Wayfair as the Vice President of Technology for Storefront and Fintech & Loyalty. Today, she finds herself at the center of Wayfair's technology evolution and commitment to delivering incredible customer experiences. We had a few minutes to chat about her role at Wayfair, projects that she is working on, and what advice she has for aspiring female engineers.
Tell Us About Your Role?
I lead engineering for Storefront as well as technology for FinTech & Loyalty, two areas that tie directly into Wayfair's customer mission and the very reason we are all here—to help our customers build the home they love.
When we talk about Storefront, it begins with the technology platform. This engine allows us to deliver diverse, world-class shopping experiences across the multiple categories we sell—everything from furniture and décor to houseware and home improvements which are sold globally to both B2C and B2B customers.
I think one of the most critical aspects of the platform is its world-class omnichannel capabilities. Our technology team understands that the way customers shop is changing. Today shoppers draw inspiration from various channels. They make decisions via social validations and collaboration and then shop on their mobile device, laptop, or inside our recently opened All Modern store. The Storefront platform ties this all together, and when done right, it creates this emotional fulfillment and connection for our customers so they can build the home they love.
Fintech is another important aspect of a winning customer experience, and we are constantly striving to expand our options in wallet to give customers choices when it comes to payments. Financing is especially important with big-ticket items. Through our ecosystem of payment partners (payment processes, financing providers, etc.…), we give shoppers options while keeping our customers safe and secure and all payments protected.
What's the Greatest Opportunity Ahead for You and Wayfair, and How Are You Helping?
Wayfair is moving very quickly, and there are many great opportunities ahead of us. But we will not achieve these using a brute force approach. We need to be smart and work in the most efficient manner possible to capitalize on every single opportunity. This brings me back to our platform. For us to accomplish our long-term goals, it must be able to scale with us at speed while allowing us to maintain the same levels of quality.
My team recently introduced a vision of a completely new, modular architecture that will allow us to move quickly while keeping the quality and creating these bespoke experiences. Just consider the vast number of categories, segments, countries, and channels that we touch every day. There are an endless number of experience combinations to create and it's not feasible to do so on a one-off basis. That's why we are moving to an approach based on the principle of reusability and modularity.
Think of the platform as small Lego blocks. We don't start from scratch with each scenario. We have these built and use different combinations of these blocks to create each experience. This will allow us to operate at the necessary velocity.
This modular platform vision has been the highlight of my first year on the job, and we are on our way to making that happen. More to come on that soon.
If There is One Message for Aspiring Female Engineers and Innovators, What Would it Be?
It's a simple message, be resilient and don't get discouraged. Many females are moving into historically male-dominated roles. Is this progress encouraging? Without question. But we cannot ignore the reality–there is a lot more work to be done in order to achieve our goal of complete parity.
Just look around you. We still don't see enough females in senior executive technology roles, and discouragement can quickly set in. For many, this lack of diversity is new unchartered territory, and it can curb their ambition. It's vital to be resilient, dream big and take risks. The only real mistake you can make is not trying. I give this same advice to my eight-year-old daughter.
I also encourage people to talk about their experiences because none of us are in this alone. Many females come from cultures where talking about their professional aspirations is discouraged. This is especially the case for those coming from countries like India, where we are supposed to remain humble.