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: 02/22/2017

    Can Walmart grow its online business profitably?

    Max, it's hard for me to see Walmart converting many Amazon Prime customers, who presumably are the ones they most covet. Once one gets used to the ease, speed, and assortment of Amazon Prime, it really would take something BIG to get a Prime member to switch to Walmart. The only two things I can think of are quicker shipping (perhaps in one day from a store?) or a significant difference in price. But, I think many Prime members start at Amazon and stay there with their searches, unless the price seems WAY out of whack.
  • Posted on: 02/01/2017

    How will online shopping transform the grocery business?

    Gene, I really think you are an outlier in terms of the percentage of shopping you do online. I am, too, but where shoppers have access to supermarkets and other grocery stores like Publix, Trader Joe's, and Whole Foods and are in areas where service is good, most folks still like to get out of the house and pick their own groceries, especially fresh items.
  • Posted on: 01/31/2017

    Should the Monday after the Super Bowl be a national holiday?

    Agreed, Cathy and Jasmine. With the chaos going on in the country right now, I think we need to get a little (or a lot) more serious with our change.org petitions. And, the last thing we need is big corporations dumbing us down any further. Meanwhile, many of us will settle down with our beer and chips to watch a bunch of guys bash each others heads in, and try not to think about the long-term consequences. But, a national holiday for the day after the game? PR stunt, or joke, or something like that.
  • Posted on: 01/31/2017

    Will free two-day shipping give Walmart an edge over Amazon?

    I agree, Tom. It instantly could make them a much bigger e-commerce player. For Prime members like me, it will make Walmart the retailer I compare to Amazon on prices, whereas I wouldn't have bothered before. Prime members who use a lot of the ancillary services will probably stay loyal, but if they are paying the $99 mainly for the two-day shipping, this could be a game changer. At least it gets Walmart back in the game and they are promising more in short order.
  • Posted on: 01/26/2017

    Will Snickers score big with live Super Bowl spot?

    Well, it's different. And isn't that a primary goal of Super Bowl ads - to be different? Something like this is unique enough that it should connect will with all pre-Baby Boomer generations. The biggest risk is that they fail to pull it off technically. Then, it will grab even more attention on social media, and I'm sure they have a back up plan to respond if/when that happens. If you are going to spend huge $ to advertise in the big game, why not be different?
  • Posted on: 01/24/2017

    Will growing competition in Florida slow Publix as it heads north?

    As someone who has three Publix supermarkets within three miles of me, what I notice most about Publix is consistently good service and quality. But, I wonder if consistency is good enough for younger generations, who seem to demand change on a weekly basis? Seems to me that perhaps the element of "surprise and delight" may be missing a bit from Publix so I'd think in the direction of more sampling, new/better prepared food items (fried chicken and meatloaf only go so far), rotating specialty items, more exotic produce, and more special events, if I were them.
  • 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.

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