Al McClain

CEO, Co-Founder, RetailWire
Al McClain is CEO and co-founder of, the expert discussion community for the retailing community. He has spent 30+ years in the retail, tech, and CPG spaces. Al's career highlights include sales and management stints with Luzianne-Blue Plate Foods, Bestfoods, Red Rose Tea, and Progressive Grocer (Trade Dimensions and Retail Insights divisions). He also co-founded in 1997, a precursor to Frequent RetailWire clients include Oracle, IBM, SAP, IRI, Emarsys, Intel, iQmetrix, Infutor, Listrak, etc.

Al has spoken extensively at industry events for the National Grocers Association, the Institute for International Research, the Magazine Publishers Association, the d2 Digital Dialogue Conference, and the Category Management Association. He has written for publications such as Nielsen Wire, Loyalty Management, and He also contributes to and represents Phil Lempert on speaking engagements, research, etc. He lives in South Florida.
  • Posted on: 02/16/2018

    For independent grocers, it’s innovate or die

    I'd suggest focusing on the perimeter and cutting WAY back on center store items, just having enough to satisfy shoppers needing a few fill in items. There is no way an independent supermarket can match the big boys on price or assortment on center store items, national brands, or commodities. Instead, focus on a large assortment of fresh produce, deli, seafood, and prepared foods. Independents can do a great job on prepared foods and there is also an opportunity to build a presence by carrying more local brands.
  • Posted on: 02/12/2018

    L.L.Bean ends its famous ‘lifetime replacement’ guarantee

    The new policy is still generous and L.L. Bean can certainly afford to lose those who don't like the new policy, and this will help their profitability. Meanwhile, I don't think it has anything to do with social media. It has to do with a general decline of the percentage of people doing what's right.
  • Posted on: 02/02/2018

    Is a Super Bowl ad worth $5 million?

    The Super Bowl remains THE American TV event of the year. But, it has built-in controversy this year. Will some players kneel? How will NBC cover that if it happens? What will Trump Tweet? Will someone get a concussion or other serious injury? I'm sure the ROI is there for a great commercial, but there is risk and opportunity advertising alongside controversy.
  • Posted on: 01/31/2018

    Race and security meet in lawsuit brought against Walmart

    Agreed, Jasmine. Locking up a 48 cent comb seems unusual, and making the customer go pay for it before returning to shop is equally unusual. At least I hope it is unusual.
  • Posted on: 01/31/2018

    Will retailers regret raising worker expectations around corporate tax cuts?

    Politics aside, the retailing industry is not a good path for entry level employees looking for a long career in a healthy industry, and the opportunity to earn a great income. There may be other reasons to join the industry, but the idea of getting wealthy or even doing real well financially shouldn't be one of them.Whether voters will realize the promises made in terms of greater income and better health care aren't coming true is another matter.
  • Posted on: 01/25/2018

    Starbucks and Amazon go cashless in Seattle

    Hi Mark, I think Cathy's point is that there has been an underlying assumption on the part of consumers that businesses would accept what has been called "cash money." It may be legal for businesses to refuse cash, but it does send a signal to the unbanked that their business is not wanted. My guess is the unbanked aren't buying coffee in Starbucks or shopping at Amazon Go anyway, but it does seem to be a bit of an elitist position on the part of these businesses.
  • Posted on: 01/23/2018

    Would Iceland’s equal pay law work in the U.S.?

    One issue with this approach is that employees at one level spend a lot of time angling to get to the next pay level or grade, because of the pay difference, than actually working.
  • Posted on: 01/22/2018

    Amazon Go goes live

    Rich, unfortunately, I see almost no chance that checkout staff will be deployed elsewhere. When this technology takes off, these jobs will be lost.
  • Posted on: 01/12/2018

    Surreal to so real – Sam’s closes 63 clubs after Walmart announces pay raise

    The timing was terrible and the headline for the press release was corporate-speak in the extreme, "Sam’s Club Shares Changes to Club Fleet." If they weren't embarrassed by the action, the headline would have been more straightforward. I'm a little amazed at some of the experts here giving them props for closing stores. BJ's and Costco are not closing stores and their sales are growing rapidly, so it isn't the case that club store sales have to decline because of e-commerce. Also, there is no good way to "spin" this, try as they may. Closing 63 large stores is going to be a negative, no matter how you spin it.
  • Posted on: 01/09/2018

    Will consumers wear Alexa-enabled AR glasses?

    Odd indeed, Paula. But, I remember the first time I noticed someone on their phone talking while standing at a urinal in an airport men's room. Now, for better or worse, people use their phone's literally everywhere. I imagine the talking glasses thing will happen, but not everyone will use them and they will get integrated into the mainstream so that we won't pay much attention to people asking Alexa questions as they walk down the street. Side note: How annoying will this get for people named Alexa?
  • Posted on: 01/04/2018

    Does online shopping have a cardboard box problem?

    Lee, our neighborhood looks much the same. I am very skeptical of the claim that 90% of corrugated packaging gets recycled. I see a lot of it in regular trash, and even see Waste Management toss it all in the same garbage truck even when it is intended for recycling. We need some system of incentives for consumers to think more about the environmental consequences of not recycling, and better incentives for business, too. I don't see retailers taking back packaging for recycling/reuse, but perhaps some innovative ones can create an environmentally-friendly niche for themselves if they do.
  • Posted on: 01/03/2018

    Kroger may have an Ace (Hardware) up its sleeve

    I like it. When you need one or two quick hardware items, knowing there is a mini-Ace at Kroger makes this a great option. It also increases the odds that you'll make a fill-in trip at Kroger while you are there. It also presumably brings more men into the supermarket, and provides a great use for some of the center store space that is no longer needed.
  • Posted on: 12/28/2017

    Will other grocers beat Amazon Go to the punch?

    Or, since we talk every day about the need for brick and mortar retailers to create a better shopping experience, they could just do that. I'm fortunate enough to live in an area dominated by Publix, where there is an available check out lane 99% of the time with no waiting; a cashier who is friendly and competent; and usually a bagger who also offers to bring your groceries to the car. Meanwhile, Publix's prices are in line with Walmart if you take advantage of the specials. Automating everything in physical stores seems to me to be just another way to drive shoppers online.
  • Posted on: 12/19/2017

    Are on-the-road shopping apps helpful or hazardous?

    If used as shown in the video, the app is fine. The problem is, many drivers will use it on the highway going 70 MPH or higher. Here in Florida, I've seen drivers use iPads while going around a traffic circle. If used as intended, it's fine. It also may be a safer substitute instead of drivers using their phones or tablets while driving, but none of these things are safe, and I'm sure lawyers are licking their chops on this one.
  • Posted on: 12/18/2017

    Did Netflix cross the data-disclosure line?

    Here's the problem, Gene. Netflix made it clear that they COULD name these customers if they wanted to. So, IF they wanted to embarrass their customers they could. The fact that they don't want to at the moment is irrelevant. All it takes is one rogue employee or one hacker, and lots of data could be released that would embarrass a lot of people. Why reinforce that to valued customers?

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