Alexander Rink

CEO, 360pi

Alexander joined 360pi as CEO in June 2010. Since that time, he successfully pivoted the company from a B2C comparison shopping engine to a B2B retail price intelligence solution of choice for enterprise-level $1B+ national retailers. 360pi’s price intelligence enables retailers to monitor their competitors’ prices online for smarter, more profitable pricing decisions.

Alexander has co-founded and led two other Internet SaaS companies to profitability. Previously, he used data analytics to optimize profits for retailers as a strategic management consultant at Bain & Company. His prior experience also includes helping launch Ford/VW minivan manufacturing in Portugal as a Material Controller. Alexander brings over 20 years of entrepreneurial, strategic and operational experience to the table, with an MBA from INSEAD and a BASc in Electrical Engineering from the University of Waterloo.

  • Posted on: 09/16/2015

    Best Buy to open shops inside of Macy’s stores

    The proof is in the pudding as to whether it will be successful. However, the logic of exposing the Best Buy brand to a greater number of prospective customers, especially if done with a tailored assortment, makes a lot of sense and enables both chains to gain some benefit from the partnership. Kudos to both for thinking creatively.

  • Posted on: 09/16/2015

    Brand hops on Trump’s anti-Mexico bandwagon

    From a pure business perspective, it seems like a bet on short-term gain at the expense of long-term pain. If the owners are looking to flip or sell the brand in the near future, I can understand though not necessarily agree with their ploy.

    On a separate note, I agree with Mohamed: the name "Hydrox" sounds chemical, and thus ironically completely off-brand with their positioning of using the "best" ingredients.

  • Posted on: 08/28/2015

    Starbucks caves to ‘Food Babe’ and changes Pumpkin Spice Latte recipe

    I think there is a strategic and a tactical element to this issue.

    Strategically, I think food manufacturers and retailers should bias their ingredients to healthier options.

    Tactically, they need to take into consideration what the market (i.e., consumers) feel about individual ingredients, and be prepared to substitute in the event that there is public outcry about any given ingredient.

    In this particular case, Starbucks could have avoided the initial concerns had they used the healthier ingredients in the first place. That said, they have clearly responded well.

    Disclosure: I must admit that there is a personal bias in this position as I favor nutritional value over taste. I understand that there are food purveyors that seek to optimize sales by taste alone with no apparent regard to the healthfulness of the ingredients, but that is a whole other matter.

  • Posted on: 07/14/2015

    Walmart and Amazon trade shots

    Who is going to come out ahead on this one? Amazon.

    As much as I am enjoying this heavyweight fight for all of the benefits and savings it is bringing to consumers, Amazon wins this round. They were the first to the punch with the promotion, and they can lose money on all of their sales and still come out significantly ahead through the immediate revenue, up-front cash collection and ultimately lifetime value of the added Prime signups.

    Especially telling, my gut reaction when I heard about Prime Day was "Hmm, maybe it's time that I finally sign up for that Prime membership." My gut reaction when I saw Walmart's promise of rollbacks? "Why, when they are known as the standard-bearer of EDLP, were they not already proactively passing those savings on to shoppers?"

    Effectively, Amazon comes away looking like they are delivering a winning proposition for shoppers while Walmart, by countering Amazon with the promise of more rollbacks, inadvertently undermined trust in their brand as the lowest-price retailer that always passes on savings to you.

    As Chuck said, Amazon is playing a different game than Walmart and other traditional retailers. It is a treacherous new game as retailers' historically winning moves now actually risk worsening their position.

    As for shifts in consumer shopping behavior, that remains to be seen. Even with hot door buster deals, retailers have historically been unable to lure consumers away from their summer plans long enough to spend any significant amount of money—certainly nothing close to rivalling spend on Black Friday or Cyber Monday, anyway. But, kudos to Amazon on creating a major event in July, and aligning their big summer sale with the 15th of the month—payday for many shoppers. I see Christmas in July as a good side benefit, but not the primary purpose of Amazon's initiative. Either way, well done.

  • Posted on: 07/09/2015

    Amazon sued over search results

    I don't see why Amazon is being held to a higher standard than other retailers. I did a quick test and searched for "MTM watch" on Overstock, Wayfair, Amazon and Walmart. The former two displayed the helpful message that they did not carry the product and offered to assist me in finding other/related products, while both Amazon and Walmart displayed a set of products with no message that the product was not available on the site. Amazon was marginally more helpful than Walmart in that it listed a series of related searches.

    As George said, this is ultimately an indication of Amazon's ascension as the de facto search engine for products. However, to the extent that they do become that in some consumers' eyes, it is as a result of their retailing prowess, and I reiterate that I do not see why that is being held against them in a court of law.

  • Posted on: 06/26/2015

    Are new payment technologies DOA?

    Stepping back and taking a look at the bigger picture, do we think that payment systems will be more seamless and convenient in a few years than they are now? My personal opinion is yes, as all else being equal consumers will always opt for greater convenience and ease. As such, I view any snags as short term bumps on the road that will get worked through. In terms of hurdles, I think it will always come back to the basics of trading off simplicity and speed against privacy and security (including fraud prevention and what constitutes acceptable losses).

  • Posted on: 06/25/2015

    Are department store prices phony?

    Psychologically, anchoring works—see Cialdini's Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion. Does greater pricing transparency ever result in higher sales? Well, it seems to work pretty well for EDLP providers such as Walmart. At the end of the day, I view anchoring as short term gain but at the cost of shopper trust. Anyone shopping under those circumstances is going to become conditioned to looking for sales and discounts. Personally, I would rather invest in increasing the trust for the long term.

  • Posted on: 06/25/2015

    Amazon uses artificial intelligence to improve review/rating system

    Reviews are clearly critical in influencing product purchase. What I have noticed is how frequently positive reviews seem to be pushed to the top. I would like to believe that Amazon's investment in this area will be with a view to increasing the authenticity of the reviews and to provide a balanced perspective, as opposed to optimizing their display to maximize sales.

  • Posted on: 06/18/2015

    Report says Walmart stashing billions overseas

    The report will not affect them. Everybody tries to minimize what they pay in taxes. From a moral perspective, it would be nice to think that large companies such as Walmart will voluntarily pay more tax than they are legally required to—in which case their shareholders would be irate, and their competitive position would likely erode.

    I do think there is a place for companies to establish a highly ethical position, make it a core part of their brand, and be rewarded by consumers who appreciate their doing the right think in spite of not strictly needing to—Ben & Jerry's comes to mind. This is easier when made a part of the culture from the very beginning. It would take a leader of incredible strength and integrity to do that at a company the size of Walmart, and the Board would need to be completely aligned behind them; otherwise, any stumbles in revenues or margins would immediately be blamed on the new policy of valuing ethics over results.

  • Posted on: 06/17/2015

    Walmart gets a quick return after raising employees’ pay

    Numerous studies have shown that compensation is a potential dissatisfier, not a motivator. To the extent that Walmart's employees were dissatisfied with their pay, it would show up in all facets of their work and service. As a shopper, it just wouldn't feel like a great place to shop.

    If the new salary levels eliminate the majority of Walmart employees' dissatisfaction, and that remains to be seen, then it should show up in happier and more motivated (or, since compensation is a potential demotivator, less unhappy and less unmotivated) employees, which will translate into increased productivity, improved service and an overall more welcoming environment for shoppers.

    Bottom line is that to get a better handle on the returns from this change, it would be interesting to view Walmart's top and bottom line results over the next little while and correlate it to their employees' (hopefully increased) satisfaction levels.

  • Posted on: 06/16/2015

    IKEA begins making house calls

    IKEA is the fast food of furniture: easy menus, higher level of self-serve, low prices, quick and convenient. They understand market segmentation, and cater to different needs than traditional furniture stores. More localized and personalized will always work better, provided they don't mess with the core formula that has underpinned their success.

  • Posted on: 06/15/2015

    Will the Target/CVS pharmacy deal lead to a future merger?

    Good move by both companies in that it allows them each to focus on what they do best.

    A future merger is always a possibility but if they wanted to merge, why bother going through all the effort of transferring pharmacy operations to CVS, only to integrate it back with Target in the future? When Target entered Canada they sold off or closed the pharmacy business, the CVS relationship seems to be a continuation of this strategy.

  • Posted on: 10/30/2014

    Online continues to replace in-store browsing

    The trends are clear, and retailers know that the popularity of online shopping is growing rapidly. However, there are several key factors that retailers can optimize in order to capitalize on the popularity online, increasing the likelihood that shoppers' dollars are spent in their stores vs. their competitors.

    First and foremost, make sure you're competitively priced and positioned in the market. You may not want to be the lowest price, or maybe you do. Either way, make sure you are right-priced for your brand and offering as compared to your competitors. Similarly, familiarize yourself with both your assortment and your competitors' assortment. It's crucial, especially around the holidays, to know how what you are selling that your competitors are not, and vice versa. Competitive intelligence is a basic essential for every retailer.

    Second, improve the power/strength of online shopping by augmenting the channel itself, and your omnichannel experience overall. Make it easy for the consumer to want to shop on their laptop or smartphone:

    - Create or maintain a mobile-friendly site
    - Minimize site load time
    - Ensure relevant search matching
    - Supplement online product offering with corresponding images and descriptions
    - Allow for product ratings and/or customer reviews
    - Provide a mobile app and omnichannel experience

    Time of day definitely has an impact on when consumers will review your site, and how serious they will be about purchasing. There is a reason that Amazon varies its pricing throughout the day, and it is up to each retailer to decide how dynamic they want to be with their pricing, depending on how it reflects on their brand and the experience they want to convey to shoppers.

  • Posted on: 10/30/2014

    Target gets app happy

    Target is definitely making a step in the right direction, but I'm sensing a bit of overkill. Yes, a growing percentage of shoppers have taken to mobile, which Target needs to address. And yes, mobile is a great way to leverage that spending, but why launch multiple apps as opposed to just one app with all of its programs and offerings?

  • Posted on: 10/30/2014

    Retailers look to outsmart Mother Nature

    Retailers have been using weather forecasting for inventory planning and price optimization for years. However, as the years have progressed, so have the metrics and the amount of planning behind them. Retailers like Walmart and Target are planning earlier and smarter than ever before. And that seems to be the key for future planning. Test promotional activities before, during and after major storms or weather changes and study the impact that has on inventory levels and consumer behaviour.

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