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: 12/02/2016

    A small retailer makes a bold move against big chains

    What a great story.To answer the question, independents face no risk at all in bashing the uniformity and predictability of big chain retailers. Independents may not be able to match the prices of chains, but their quirkiness and ability to engage with customers are important advantages that chains will struggle to emulate.
  • Posted on: 11/30/2016

    Can engagement replace transaction rewards?

    Points and cash-back may top the list in 2016, but going forward retail needs to move away from the race to the bottom on price. We're going to have to be more creative on social media, more creative in ways to improve the brand experience and more thoughtful in considering ways that brands can improve consumers' lives. The opportunities are limited only by imagination.
  • Posted on: 11/28/2016

    Online wins the Black Friday weekend again

    The whole premise of Cyber Monday is that people don't have computers at home and wait to get into the office on Monday to take advantage of computer-accessible deals. In 2016, the only reason we talk about Black Friday and Cyber Monday is the extreme promotions promoted by retailers. The challenge for the industry is to rise above discounting and enter a new era of customer intelligence and engagement.
  • Posted on: 11/23/2016

    Has Best Buy solved the Amazon riddle?

    I can only speak from experience, but Best Buy seems to have amped up its customer service. After killing a new microwave with Windex I visited my local store to purchase a replacement. I came home with an identical machine with a scratch and a price tag of only $96, thanks to the sleuthing skills of my store associate.Several years ago everyone assumed that Best Buy would be dead soon. Kudos to Mr. Joly.
  • Posted on: 11/22/2016

    How important is convenience to motivating online holiday shoppers?

    The important point here is that the customers are in the driver's seat. They now have access to unlimited merchandise, available either immediately or within 48 hours, with near-complete price transparency. The job facing retailers is to compete successfully against the best-known shopping sites by creating great experiences in the store. Convenience IS a big driver, but experience may outweigh it over time.
  • Posted on: 11/21/2016

    Will Alexa-exclusive deals bring holiday cheer to Amazon?

    Ken Lonyai hits it on the head. Amazon would like to train customers to purchase without checking the price or features first. It's not hard to see a new program for ordering groceries where customers merely say "buy Cheerios" or "buy paper towels" without knowing the prices of each. There's already a perception that Amazon Prime is free shipping -- when it really is shipping paid in advance.
  • Posted on: 11/18/2016

    Are Neiman Marcus and Rent the Runway meant for each other?

    Rent the Runway is a perfect fit for a woman who needs a dress for a special occasion but isn't willing to drop $400 on a garment that will be worn once. Bringing Rent The Runway into the store may draw Millennials, who may be perfect candidates for Neiman Marcus' cosmetics and accessories. This looks like a perfect match.
  • Posted on: 11/17/2016

    Who destroyed American Apparel?

    The drumbeat of bad publicity about Mr. Charney has been with us for years. From allegations of sexual abuse to posing mannequins with pubic hair (!), Mr. Charney has been the face of a company struggling to position itself in the mainstream. That said, while it's tempting to lay the blame at his feet, it's more likely that prices are to blame. $50 sweatpants? Why?
  • Posted on: 11/16/2016

    Will adding off-price shops lift Macy’s full-price stores?

    It's going to depend on the merchandise.T.J. Maxx and Marshalls are successful because the merchandise is high-quality (think milled French soaps for $3 and thick bath towels for $7) and relatively inexpensive. If Macy's will stock Macy's-grade merchandise at a discount, this could be a success. Will this be the move that rescues the department store model? I doubt it.
  • Posted on: 11/14/2016

    What should stores do about BOPIS abandonment?

    At the recent meeting of the Store Operations Council, retailers discussed the incentives they had to put in place for stores to fulfill these orders. They emphasized that giving the online P&L "credit" for the sale while asking stores to do that work was getting massive push-back from stores. Abandoned orders won't do anything to improve that. I wonder if texting reminders, instead of emailing them, would cause purchasers to abandon orders less.
  • Posted on: 11/11/2016

    Will Donald Trump’s presidency be good for retailers?

    I live in Washington DC, where the new conventional wisdom (after the deep shock of the election) is that Trump will not actually do any of the things he promised. Massive tax cuts, combined with huge new infrastructure programs, tens of billions in cash for an already swollen military, and impactful trade wars would have unmistakable effects on our national debt. It will be interesting to see the next State of the Union address, to say the least.
  • Posted on: 11/10/2016

    The drive-thru of the future

    Drive-thru restaurants work because they sell a very limited number of items, ensuring speedy delivery. There are inherent logistical challenges to drive-thrus for, say, a Costco, no matter what technologies are in use. Let's work on some basic process issues in stores over trying out technologies that may or may not drive sales.
  • Posted on: 11/09/2016

    Now Amazon wants to clean your home

    What exactly will people pay to have someone put their paper towels away? Hard to say, but Amazon has cleverly convinced people that its fee-based services are actually free. I wouldn't underestimate their ability to expand.
  • Posted on: 11/08/2016

    What will Christmas on Sunday mean for last-minute deliveries?

    For the past few years we've seen retailers making some pretty audacious promises about how late they can deliver packages, sometimes with very disappointing results. Come on, people; everyone knows what date Christmas is. Max is right -- retailers will do better if they under-promise and over-deliver.
  • Posted on: 11/07/2016

    Ode to retail: Death of the traditional mall

    Have a look at Westfield Century City, which is nearly doubling in size. Malls in general aren't disappearing -- but bad malls are.

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