Cathy Hotka

Principal, Cathy Hotka & Associates

Cathy Hotka has personal relationships with most of North America’s most influential retail technology leaders. Cathy Hotka & Associates is a different kind of retail IT marketing firm, leveraging close relationships with CIOs to assist technology companies, and working with retail CIOs to create thought leadership materials. The company was founded in 2002 and enjoys working relationships with many Tier 1 retailers and vendors.

Prior to creating the firm, Hotka created the CIO Council for the National Retail Federation, and staffed the American Petroleum Institute’s IT Council. She has worked on Capitol Hill and the White House, and has been recognized by Computerworld, CIO, Executive Technology, and the Wharton School of Business.

  • Posted on: 05/26/2017

    Does an American Eagle Outfitters bid for Abercrombie & Fitch add up?

    I'll agree with Mark that the odds are long, and would add that capital investment firms are becoming expert at bleeding retail companies dry. Prospects are thumbs-down on this one.
  • Posted on: 05/23/2017

    Will J.C. Penney find success with its new B2B venture?

    Staples is moving in the same direction, away from coupons and toward relationship marketing with businesses. If the pricing is on point, this will be a great idea for smaller chains who don't have the purchasing power of the giants. Congratulations to J.C. Penney for having vision -- it's quite a contrast from the tragic Sears story.
  • Posted on: 05/22/2017

    How should self-checkout be incentivized?

    Oddly, a major grocery store near me forces customers with MORE than 12 items to use self-checkout. About three minutes in, the system starts barking at the customer to remove items from the belt. While the customer is bagging and removing those items, the system assumes the transaction is over and starts yelling for a credit card number. Clearance items can't be processed without human intervention because the system assumes they're fraudulent. I stopped going there.
  • Posted on: 05/19/2017

    Is influencer marketing all that it’s cracked up to be?

    I liked this article, but its scope isn't big enough. Any person who fills out an opinion survey, makes a comment on Yelp or offers a review of a hotel on TripAdvisor is an influencer. From makeup tutorials on YouTube to celebrity cooking shows, the rise of social media has made everyone an influencer. Savvy brands will leverage this to their advantage.
  • Posted on: 05/18/2017

    How safe is America’s food supply?

    I hope Ron is right, but this White House and both chambers of Congress are committed to rolling back regulations of every kind (including allowing average Americans to purchase silencers for their guns.) It's hard to imagine that, after voting to allow insurance companies to super-charge women who have the nerve to get pregnant, they're going to want to protect their food supply.
  • Posted on: 05/15/2017

    Can retailers keep up with Gen Z’s digital savviness?

    This is going to be a real problem for retail. Many retailers' insistence on keeping legacy technology is going to impact their ability to navigate newer technologies that appeal to digital natives. Leveraging the right technology is going to be an imperative, and will change consumers' relationships with the retailers they love.
  • Posted on: 05/11/2017

    What makes consumers so loyal to Publix, Wegmans, Trader Joe’s and H-E-B?

    Each and every visit to Publix is remarkable. It's easy to win recognition for excellence when you carry many thousands of SKUs, and store associates are outgoing and exceptionally friendly. I would love to learn more about their new associate orientation.
  • Posted on: 05/10/2017

    Is facial recognition a viable solution for reducing shoplifting?

    Expectations about privacy keep changing. Twenty years ago, if someone had told you that you'd willingly purchase a listening device that was always on, you'd have laughed. Now we're talking about snapping pictures of customers in the store. If it's used to fight shoplifting, I could be persuaded to support it, but the average customer would have a COW if they knew they were being monitored in this way.
  • Posted on: 05/09/2017

    Will online grocers redefine hotel room service?

    I'm with Mark Ryski. The last thing I want to do on the road is wrangle with ingredients, especially since many hotels are located near reasonably-priced restaurants. Hotel delivery makes for good press, though.
  • Posted on: 05/08/2017

    Will personalized meal plans increase Peapod’s order sizes?

    I just spent three days in Miami with a group of people who kept mentioning how valuable they think meal delivery services are. These are meeting the needs of some people and seem to have legs; it would be smart of Peapod to get out in front of this and grab market share away from lesser-known competitors.
  • Posted on: 05/05/2017

    What is holding back marketers’ personalization efforts?

    The daily emails I get from retailers are sent to me by name, but that doesn't make them personalized. I'd be interested to hear what kinds of personalized offers consumers are getting.
  • Posted on: 05/04/2017

    How will passage of the overtime pay bill affect retailers and workers?

    You don't have to be a genius to know that retailers have much more leverage over employees than employees have over retailers. This bill is a gift to businesses and any attempt to couch it as a boon for employees is simply false. Don't expect anyone to be fooled.
  • Posted on: 05/03/2017

    Should one rough quarter have Publix’s management concerned?

    Competition is good for the consumer and for the industry. That said, Publix has nothing to worry about. Its unique combination of copious SKUs with exceptionally friendly service places it squarely in the hearts of its customers. Its only credible competition is Wegmans, which doesn't yet have the coverage to do Publix real damage.
  • Posted on: 05/02/2017

    Will consumers finally pay for service?

    I'd argue that the Great Recession changed many people's attitudes. Big banks that wrecked the economy were bailed out while the American citizens who bailed them out were rewarded with 0 percent interest on their bank balances. There's a growing frustration among people that things are stacked against them. Retailers should keep this in mind when interacting with customers.
  • Posted on: 05/01/2017

    Is omnichannel a retail margin crusher?

    Unified commerce is here to stay, and actions that might have been seen as margin crushers before (think: two-hour shipping) will continue to address customer preferences. Traditional retailers need to repurpose their IT spend away from expensive legacy technologies and toward process innovations that meet consumer expectations.

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