Bill Davis

Director, MB&G Consulting

Bill has been involved in multi-channel retail systems definition, design and development since the mid-90s when eCommerce started to emerge.  He was employee #7 at NetMarket which was widely recognized for processing the first secure transaction over the WWW in 8/94.

After the launch of numerous eCommerce sites, it became clear more was needed to fully enable eCommerce, such as offering inventory availability, dynamic shipping prices based on service level and customer’s location, order state visibility, etc.  As a result, Bill started migrating into supply chain systems definition, design and development in both B2C and B2B with i2 Technologies and Endura Software to more effectively enable multi-channel retailing.  While that kept him busy for the next decade plus, a different challenge began to emerge.

Bill noticed that the retailers/distributors he was working with had a tendency to keep their sales channels independent of one another.  More often than not this meant the systems used in one sales channel were different than those in another.  This observation started Bill on the next leg of his journey which is helping retailers integrate their sales channels to provide a richer customer experience as well as a more effective systems infrastructure.  Since 2011 Bill has focused his attention on omni-channel retailing as that’s where he believes retailing is headed over the next decade.

Bill has a MBA from the University of Washington (Seattle), a BA from the University of Massachusetts (Amherst) and a diploma from The Roxbury Latin School.

  • Posted on: 06/15/2015

    Digital marketing recasts emotional interaction with brands

    Augmented reality is anyone's guess right now as while there's some cool technology, its not really taking root. Digital coupons on the other hand should eventually make the shopper's experience easier because if I have a digital shopping list created, I should be able to append digital coupons to the appropriate item(s) in my list or possibly have the retailer do it for me. However, so retailers don't start a race to the bottom, they need to better understand when the coupon is necessary to tip someone into buying and those insights are few and far between today.

    From where I sit, I would think every shopper wants a personalized experience, its just a matter of to what degree it can be enabled.

  • Posted on: 05/22/2015

    Will QR codes put an end to counterfeit goods sold online?

    Possibly, but even the article raises three hurdles to overcome: 1. Merchants will not be empowered by the technology to go after counterfeiters if and when false products are scanned, 2. it is yet to be seen if customers will actually scan the codes and 3. it is yet to be seen how useful the codes will be in stopping customers from intentionally purchasing cheap knockoffs of brand-name goods.

    The issue of counterfeit goods is a significant one for a marketplace like Alibaba as it can adversely impact their business so they have to look for ways to proactively address the issue. For the majority of retailers this isn't an issue, so while Visualead has advanced the QR code, I still think QR codes are "a marketing fad of debatable usefulness."

  • Posted on: 05/08/2015

    Amazon can be stopped

    Millennials are "less likely to purchase online compared to their older counterparts."  Not buying it. Physical retail will continue to lose share to online in the coming years, in my opinion.

  • Posted on: 05/07/2015

    Are retailers organized for analytics?

    On a scale of one to 10 with 10 being fully prepared, I would say three. It's early in the big data game so 98 percent of retailers are still trying to find their way. No one, NO ONE, has this 75 percent figured out and it's a journey that will evolve over time. The biggest impediment is often data quality and that's an issue that still impacts every organization whether they are willing to acknowledge it or not.

    Start slow, focus on data quality and master data management and don't try and do everything all at once as that will only slow things down. The high-end skill sets are challenging to find and more often that not retailers aren't offering a competitive enough compensation package to attract them. Stay focused and and increment your capabilities as Rome wasn't built in a day.

  • Posted on: 05/01/2015

    Costco’s sweet Visa/Citi deal

    This deal expands their pool of customers as more people have Visa than Amex and it reduces their transaction costs, so this should be a net gain for Costco as long as the transition from Amex to Visa goes well and the benefits are perceived as comparable.

    Very few retailers have the scale and desired demographics as Costco so if your company does, an exclusive deal could benefit. Otherwise, putting up as few barriers as possible to making a purchase would seem to make sense.

  • Posted on: 04/30/2015

    Will a data scientist shortage hurt Big Data’s promise?

    Very important and yes, this will adversely impact the retailers and brands that don't secure qualified personnel. The three biggest barriers to be overcome, IMO, are:

    1) senior management making decisions because of what they think as opposed to what's really happening
    2) being able to change how things operate today as well as establishing and adhering to a roadmap for how to achieve the desired future state
    3) finding a balance between data, intuition and common sense

    Retailers will have to address each of these three items, and likely more, before data science is more widely accepted in driving business decisions.

  • Posted on: 04/21/2015

    Will Wall Street ruin Etsy’s social and eco values?

    It would be great if they could, but I agree with Katie Benner's comment, "Investors are like waves beating on the shore: Eventually, they make all the rocks basically look the same." There will come a time when the mission is challenged by the need to make money and Mr. Market, is almost impossible to ignore, even when he's wrong.

    Best of luck to Etsy though and if they can continue to move the needle beyond where they have taken it today, that would be beneficial, IMO.

  • Posted on: 04/20/2015

    Omnichannel puts retailers in the red

    First, let's look at the source of the study. JDA wouldn't be publishing this if they didn't think it favored their solutions in some way, shape or form: "retailers need intelligent logistics and fulfillment solutions that can reveal the hidden costs and customer service trade-offs associated with every delivery option."

    Most retailers are reacting to omnichannel rather than having planned for it, which definitely leads to higher costs early on. My question would be: how many retailers started pursuing an omnichannel strategy before 2013 and how many have a roadmap detailing their investment focus and timeline for implementing? As we're early in the cycle, often times the first few years of pursuing a new area aren't as efficient as when firms have more experience. While I firmly believe early adopters will benefit, they also have to be disciplined about how they budget and spend.

  • Posted on: 04/17/2015

    Stepping back in time to re-imagine the future of malls

    To some extent, but it's more of an evolution than a wholesale makeover. And for areas where winter occurs, ways for dealing with this will need to be developed as I am pretty sure few, if any, people in the Boston area wanted to visit the outdoor lifestyle center this past winter. That being said, the Hotel de Glace, in Quebec City might offer some ideas to be considered as when I was there seven or eight years ago they had an ice slide for the kids, small and big, near the reception desk.

    One company having great success improving the mall experience is The Legaspi Company. While I haven't visited their one of their properties in person, they are getting a great deal of recognition within the Hispanic community for reinventing the mall concept.

  • Posted on: 04/14/2015

    Sears is a real estate play after all

    No, huh and no. Why would I, or anyone else for that matter, want to be a Sears member? What's the value proposition for customers?

  • Posted on: 04/10/2015

    Apple to push customers from its stores to its site

    I wouldn't say dumb, but given Apple has one of the highest revenue/square foot metrics in retail and the accompanying news that follows a product launch, I would be inclined to keep the in store spectacle going while at the same time making it clear for folks that online is another channel to purchase through.

    Consumers make up their own mind and clearly a great many really embrace the in store experience at Apple, even though it involves waiting. A true omni channel retailer would keep all channels available for its customers as long as order flow is strong.

  • Posted on: 04/08/2015

    The cloud is about more than ROI

    While I am a proponent of the cloud for certain things—based on the expertise inside a company on being able to bring new applications and capabilities online—this, "Cloud delivery models enable retailers to change fast, and to stay flexible so that they can change again," needs further explanation. Saying it is one thing, but clearly explaining how is another and I personally need more detail than is in this article.

    Why is the cloud a trade off between customization vs. flexibility? Are we suggesting that the desire to customize software deployed in-house is too great and that its not possible to prevent? If so, how does the cloud limit/prevent this overemphasis on customization? This is a complex issue, one that needs to be looked at on a case-by-case basis in my opinion, and it would help me to better understand how the cloud minimizes/eliminates customization and enables greater flexibility first.

  • Posted on: 04/07/2015

    Starbucks to workers: College is on us

    Congrats to Starbucks for taking this step. Helping better educate its workforce should have benefits for both the workers and Starbucks so chalk this up as a win/win. I would think people more motivated to achieve career success will be drawn to Starbucks as a way to help further their career so yes, I think it will provide Starbucks a hiring advantage.

  • Posted on: 04/02/2015

    Retailers discuss h-app-y mobile surprises

    If I am a loyalty program member, leverage my phone to unobtrusively recognize me when I have crossed the threshold of a store and update me on relevant special offers and opportunities available only to loyalty customers as I have already given my permission to be contacted. And once you know I am a loyalty program member, you should have access to my past purchase history so how about making smart recommendations based on my history while I am in the store?

    On the Alex & Ani example, I would suggest customers would rather spend less time waiting in line, so rather than trying to connect with them in a less than ideal situation, it might make sense to work on minimizing having to wait in line. Just a thought.

  • Posted on: 03/27/2015

    Balancing surprise and simplicity for better customer experiences

    Personally, I am a huge fan of simplicity, but surprise and delight can often be an outcome of simplicity, so I am inclined to say complementary.

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