Meanwhile, Barnes & Noble, Moda Operandi and Coupang announce new executives. CEO of Brandless steps down.

Fabric and crafting supplies retailer Joann, No. 363 in the Internet Retailer 2018 Top 1000, has appointed Varadheesh Chennakrishnan as its chief information officer.

Prior to joining Joann, Chennakrishnan spent eight years at Ulta Beauty (No. 91) in a variety of IT-related roles, most recently as senior vice president of applications and enterprise architecture. He will help amplify Joann’s omnichannel and technology offerings from the store to the web. For example, most recently the crafts retailer opened its first “Concept Store” in Columbus, Ohio, that includes new technologies such as interactive kiosks throughout the store and a cut bar that allows customers to check in and continue shopping until a text message alerts them that an associate is ready to cut their fabric. Joann has begun to roll these features out to its 865 stores.

In addition, Joann launched MyFabric at the end of 2018, a program on Joann.com that allows consumers to customize their own fabric to drive more shoppers to its ecommerce site. The retailer worked with fabric customization software company WeaveUp to implement the service. Shoppers can choose from roughly 8,000 designs on Joann.com/MyFabric and customize the color, size and fabric type.

Joann plans to expand MyFabric’s capabilities sometime in the first half this year to enable consumers to upload and order fabrics with their own designs, a Joann spokeswoman says.

“We’re doing incredibly exciting things at Joann, from integrating customer-facing technologies into our stores, to investing in new operations systems, to expanding the way we interact with customers on their connected devices,” said president and CEO Wade Miquelon. “Varadheesh brings a wealth of experience and fresh thinking to this position.”

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In other ecommerce news:

  • Barnes & Noble Inc., No. 74 in the Top 1000, appointed Joe Gorman as executive vice president of operations. Before Barnes & Noble, Gorman was vice president of operations at nutrition supplements retailer GNC Holdings Inc. (No. 210) for four years. Additionally, he was vice president of new business/mobile at GameStop Corp. (No. 40) and held several roles at Home Depot Inc. (No. 7) during his more than 16-year tenure, the final one being senior director of operations. Meanwhile, the bookseller is still searching for a new CEO to replace Demos Parneros, who was fired last summer.
  • Korean ecommerce platform Coupang hired Walmart Inc.’s (No. 3) former global chief ethics and compliance officer Jay Jorgensen as its general counsel and chief compliance officer. “Coupang is a fast-growing global company, and I am very glad that I can be part of this process of change and innovation,” Jorgensen said. “The company’s transparency and employee ethics is a crucial value for its sustainable growth worldwide, so I will establish a top compliance program to help Coupang become the most reliable company for customers.”
  • Luxury apparel retailer Moda Operandi (No. 403) appointed Akshat Thanawala as chief product officer. Before joining the fashion retailer, he was vice president of product management for food ordering and delivery platform Grubhub. “Akshat’s experience building innovative products for complex marketplace systems is invaluable to Moda as we aim to build the best experiences for both our customers and brand partners,” says CEO Ganesh Srivats.
  • Tina Sharkey, co-founder and CEO of consumer packaged goods retailer Brandless.com, has stepped down from her role. In a blog post announcing the change, Sharkey says she “decided to take on a new and more focused role as Co-Chair of our Brandless Board of Directors. This will allow me to shift all my time to accelerating our mission, our culture, our community, and our business and continue to make an outsized impact.” Evan Price, chief financial officer of Brandless, will serve as interim CEO while the retailer searches for a permanent replacement.
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