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.
  • VIEW ARTICLES
  • VIEW COMMENTS
  • Posted on: 01/14/2017

    Will its massive jobs announcement change public perceptions of Amazon?

    Jeff Bezos is trying to ingratiate himself with Trump, as so many other corporate leaders are doing. Meanwhile, the 100K jobs will be offset by job losses elsewhere at retailers, and to increased automation. And, the Amazon fulfillment worker of tomorrow will do the job of 2 or 3 of today's workers, as productivity increases rapidly. It sounds good, but let's give it time to see how all these pro-Trump pronouncements play out over a longer period and what happens to the retailing industry as a whole, which is not trending well.
  • Posted on: 01/05/2017

    Will store closings and layoffs end Macy’s woes?

    When is the last time you've been to a Macy's that was NOT understaffed? To me, they have become a department store in the dreaded middle, with neither great service nor unique enough products to offer. Buying up all these regional chains is something they have really never recovered from.
  • Posted on: 12/30/2016

    Amazon considers floating warehouses

    I guess Amazon will never run out of new audacious ideas , and that's good, but I wonder sometimes if they shouldn't spend a little more time figuring out a handful that are great ideas and executing them. And, I'm still surprised that 10% of my Amazon orders arrive late.
  • Posted on: 12/20/2016

    Will a higher minimum wage translate to better service levels?

    Paula, I agree with several of your points. Service would indeed improve if only because a more qualified, enthusiastic pool of employees would be attracted to retail. And, many retailers would stand a better chance of long term survival. But, a significant minimum wage hike is DOA with the new administration, for four to eight years.
  • Posted on: 12/12/2016

    Is appreciation the best gift retailers can give workers this Christmas?

    Time off for store-level employees at most retailers around the holidays, which are typically the busiest time of the year, is not realistic. Having a decent lunch brought in for associates is great, as are gift cards, bonuses, etc. Having supervisors work alongside associates is a must. Temps can help, but sometimes they are not trained at all or only minimally so, so they actually get in the way. Holiday parties can be fun, if the booze is controlled, but retailers often have them after the holidays, after the return rush is over. Most important of all is having the bosses say thank you for the extra effort put in during the year and during the rush.
  • 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.

Contact Al