PROFILE

Al McClain

CEO, Co-Founder, RetailWire
Al McClain is CEO and co-founder of RetailWire.com, 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 IdeaBeat.com in 1997, a precursor to RetailWire.com. 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 Forbes.com. He also contributes to SupermarketGuru.com and represents Phil Lempert on speaking engagements, research, etc. He lives in South Florida.
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  • Posted on: 11/22/2016

    How important is convenience to motivating online holiday shoppers?

    I agree with Max except that some shoppers like to get out of the house, socialize and shop, if the experience is pleasant enough.
  • Posted on: 11/22/2016

    How important is convenience to motivating online holiday shoppers?

    Just to clarify, the study from UPS above was of 5,000 online shoppers, so is naturally skewed.
  • Posted on: 11/22/2016

    Patagonia to donate all Black Friday profits to green groups

    It depends upon how one defines investment. Financially, increased sales probably won't offset lost profits. And even some of Patagonia's customers don't care about the bigger environmental picture (I know these types of people). But it's the right thing to do and private companies and non-profit groups are now the only thing standing in the way of more rapid environmental degradation.
  • Posted on: 11/17/2016

    Do consumers now expect two-day delivery?

    Yes, consumers expect two day delivery, or faster. Amazon is very good, but they do have a few vulnerabilities. As a Prime member, for south Florida at least, two day shipping is not always two day shipping. Many items are not available for Prime or two day shipping, and ordering on a Wednesday afternoon, sometimes even Prime eligible items say they won't arrive until Monday. Granted, many items are often delivered in two days, but I find myself going elsewhere if I really need something fast. So, brick and mortar and other e-commerce operators have opportunities, they just have to figure out their strong points/niches and capitalize on them. Chewy.com is one pet superstore doing a good job and offering shipping comparable to Amazon's, without the cost of Prime membership.
  • Posted on: 11/14/2016

    American Express doubles down on ‘Shop Small’

    Small businesses should take advantage of the materials AmEx and advertising is giving them, build a whole day around this on the 26th, and get creative with what they are selling, as one of the above articles mentions. Offer food samples or Hor d'oeuvres, have a little music or entertainment, have fun with it. Offer unique products or bundles that can't be price compared. Give customers a reason to come back. And, point out to customers that they will get double points if they return before the end of the year. This is the time to start building relationships.
  • Posted on: 11/11/2016

    Will Donald Trump’s presidency be good for retailers?

    Hi Ben, Always good to get your perspective. I am not a writer nor editor (though I write some discussion stories), but a partner in the business, and I do have opinions. We wrestled with whether to run this story because of the politics involved, but opted to do so since we viewed it as an unprecedented (at least in the last 15 years) seismic event. In reviewing my comments, I tried to obey our "golden rule" and focus on the announced plans and well established intentions of a Trump administration, especially as they may effect consumers and retail. My opinions may be wrong, and are only my own, but as RW staff now has "BrainTrust" privileges to comment (overdue IMO), I wanted to weigh in. Hope you are well and feel free to share your views.
  • Posted on: 11/11/2016

    Will Donald Trump’s presidency be good for retailers?

    According to Forbes (not exactly a left-leaning publication), that is not true. Business Insider reaches the conclusion that the stock market does better under Democrats. I realize that the market does not exactly mirror business as a whole but it's an indicator.
  • Posted on: 11/11/2016

    Will Donald Trump’s presidency be good for retailers?

    In a word, no, this will not help retailers, in the short, mid or long term. Remember, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce opposed him for a reason. Trump now has a puppet House, a majority Senate and will control the Supreme Court if he gets "lucky" and one or two of the older liberals pass away. Meanwhile, the steel jobs are not coming back and the ruin the industry left behind will not be repaired.Infrastructure may be built/repaired, but he has vowed to privatize that so it will be done at the cost of tolls on new and maybe existing roads. The poor will have less spending power as the tax cuts will not affect them. And the one percent will mainly invest their tax breaks. Huge corporations will become more monopolistic, as Trump is already appointing corporate lobbyists to his team. There is a good chance he will pursue anti-trust actions against Amazon, because he does not like Jeff Bezos and retribution will be coming for those who opposed him. Finally, there could be unrest in the streets as he implements his more Draconian plans.As David Gergen, a respected analyst, said, we are in for a rough time. And as David Brooks, a moderate Republican, said, we will survive this, probably, but it won't be easy — I am paraphrasing.For retail, tax cuts will be a good thing but killing trade deals won't, and undoing climate change action will be a longer-term problem that many of us can't see because the reality is not being covered and it is happening too slowly to witness with the naked eye, but it will affect us all, including retail. Many of these things don't affect retail directly, but they will in so many unforeseen ways. Buckle your seat belts.
  • Posted on: 11/09/2016

    How to use e-mail to engage past customers

    I don't know anyone who wants more e-mails in their in box. More relevant e-mails, yes. More frequent, no.
  • Posted on: 10/26/2016

    Driverless truck delivers 50K cans of Bud on supply run

    The role of automated delivery is becoming more commonplace, and the pace will pick up. I have no doubt we'll see lots and lots of driver-less trucks and cars on the road, sooner than later. The two big downsides: 1. Jobs, or lack thereof. If you think the under-educated are mad now, just wait. 2. There will be errors, glitches, and hacks. What happens when a whole fleet's computer system goes down due to error, or worse, a hack? Nothing good. But, all of this will be overcome and we will become a more and more automated society. Then, what do us humans do? Contemplate, I guess.
  • Posted on: 09/26/2016

    Will Walmart’s ‘restorative justice’ reduce shoplifting?

    This has a slight ring of vigilante justice to it, so I'm not wild about it. Many of the folks who shop at Walmart do not have $400 or $500 in four increments. The education part of the program sounds ok, but I'd let it go with a one time warning, the merchandise gets returned, and the "offender" participates in a one hour class. They then get entered into a database of those who have been warned, and the police are called the next time, for real. Side note: I remember using a Walmart restroom years ago and seeing a sign that said something to the effect of "Steal from this store and it will haunt you for the rest of your life." I guess this new approach is better, but I'm not sure by much.
  • Posted on: 09/08/2016

    Can crowdsourced price data change shopping habits?

    It seems some of the commentors are missing the point, in that this app can compare entire shopping lists or baskets. If so, it could be the difference in where to make a weekly stock up trip for price conscious shoppers, assuming they haven't figured it out already themselves. And, it is a free competitive price comparison tools for smaller retailers.
  • Posted on: 08/19/2016

    Happy Meal fitness trackers are now an exercise in crisis management

    The fitness trackers were a nice try, and I applaud McDonald's for the idea and for removing them quickly when a problem came to their attention. As to them being a "visibly cheaper product than adult fitness trackers," well, if not, how could they afford to give them away as part of Happy Meals? Finally, for the parents who are seriously worried about a minor skin irritation, they might want to spend some time thinking about the man-made environmental catastrophes that are upcoming, and pressing governments to try to stave those off, as they will be more than a little "irritating" for their kids in a few years.
  • Posted on: 08/03/2016

    Will Wegmans take Publix on in Florida?

    In markets where they compete, this will be a "win-win" for consumers, but could be a "lose-lose" for Publix and Wegmans. They are both top notch operators with Publix having the advantage of scale, but Wegmans seemingly ahead in perimeter departments and store design. I've been impressed with Publix since living here in Florida, but their prepared foods operation remains less than impressive, and I haven't seen much change in 8 years, even though our local store has been remodeled recently. And, while their customer service is consistently very good, it is sometimes not great. The question is will both operators get better as they bang heads or will they just erode each other's margins and revenue?
  • Posted on: 07/25/2016

    White lies, sales fibs and the customer experience

    While these are great ideals, I'm not sure how grounded in reality they are. Retailers often have difficulty hiring marginally qualified individuals to fill out their staffs these days. If associates were terminated after the second minor infraction there would be no one to run the store, and legal fees would skyrocket. I think managing behavior and expectations is great, but expecting perfect behavior is unrealistic. Look at the behavior of many of this year's presidential candidates and then tell me again why minimum wage associates are held to a much higher standard.

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