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: 09/20/2017

    Kohl’s to accept product returns for Amazon

    And so it begins.The key line in this story is "whether or not they are packed for shipping." Imagine customers bringing in snow skis, full-length mirrors, lamps and other size-intensive merchandise without packaging for return to Amazon. They will, of course, and this interesting partnership enters its next stage. The implications for store operations people are daunting. This is going to be interesting to watch.
  • Posted on: 09/13/2017

    Survey says grocery has reached its digital tipping point

    The Deloitte findings are fabulously overstated. Sure, we look at online recipes and we have digital options ... but that's true for every non-grocery purchase as well. If I were running a grocery chain and had the choice of investing digitally OR in a brighter, well-merchandised store, I'd choose the latter.
  • Posted on: 09/12/2017

    Gap Inc. leans more heavily on Old Navy and Athleta

    Gap's customer base keeps hoping that they'll find something fresh and new in the store. Rather than closing outlets and effectively waving the white flag, I'd prefer that Gap focus on the brand, and sourcing some merchandise that's compelling.
  • Posted on: 09/11/2017

    Professor says price gouging is simple supply and demand at work

    It's nothing short of reprehensible to mark up basic commodities during an obvious emergency. Price controls probably aren't necessary when the public's deep sense of shame and blame will shine a spotlight on the acts of a despicable few.
  • Posted on: 09/08/2017

    ‘Okay Google, I want to order from Home Depot’

    Like it or not, commerce is going to be frictionless. Companies will continue to find new ways to serve customers' desire for speedy service and delivery. Retailers who can keep up will reap the benefits, while those who want to cut their IT budgets (you know who you are) will fall behind. It's retail Darwinism.
  • Posted on: 09/07/2017

    Is Kohl’s giving away the store to Amazon?

    I completely agree ... and as the smart home gets smarter and people need some support and direction to implement new tools, they'll think of Kohl's. I like it.
  • Posted on: 09/06/2017

    Do grocers need to reset the center store?

    There's no question that shoppers power through the center store and linger near the edges, where fresh and "clean" options beckon. It would make sense to do what Bryan suggests and cross-merchandise around the store -- if there's an app that will help customers find the item they're looking for.
  • Posted on: 09/05/2017

    Will burger and fitness partnerships reinforce Hy-Vee’s mission?

    No retail segment is more innovative than grocery and this collaboration will generate a lot of interest. Department stores might want to take a look at the inventiveness of this logic and seek out some strategic partnerships of their own.
  • Posted on: 09/05/2017

    Will AI mimicry ruin online user-generated reviews?

    This is a huge threat to the believability of reviews. Soon the only way we'll know they're real is if there are typos in them!
  • Posted on: 08/25/2017

    What’s delaying BTS selling?

    Art Suriano is right. This is just another symptom of savvy shoppers, with access to tons of information, waiting to get the best deals on everything. It has also been hot on the East Coast, so there's no reason for parents to buy sweaters and other cooler-weather items. There used to be several selling seasons; now there have to be dozens.
  • Posted on: 08/24/2017

    Will Amazon become a dominant force in grocery after acquiring Whole Foods?

    No one knows what Amazon plans to do with Whole Foods -- but it won't be the status quo. Retailers who sell groceries will want to focus on creating their own path to customer engagement and satisfaction or risk chasing the new kid on the block. There is no leading from behind here.
  • Posted on: 08/22/2017

    Will Amazon’s two-minute pickup service appeal to students?

    I'm with Bob Phibbs on this one. Unless the store is really big, anyone can find an item in a minute or so. The real play here seems to be to train consumers to think of Amazon every time they want to purchase something. The longer implications of that should be really interesting for retailers and for consumers.
  • Posted on: 08/21/2017

    Where did Applebee’s go wrong with Millennials?

    This is going to be an issue for other companies as well. Millennials don't like chains. They crave authenticity and value originality, which is antithetical to chains with hundreds or thousands of outlets. The exceptions seem to be companies that empower customers to customize their meal, like Chipotle. I'll be interested in what my colleagues have to say.
  • Posted on: 08/17/2017

    Should drones be used for data collection in addition to deliveries?

    Things I'm pretty sure I don't want to hear from Amazon:
    • "Your car needs to be washed."
    • "That third bush on the right needs some fertilizer. We have some for $8.99."
    • "Your tomato plants need some bigger cages. Try ours for $11.99 each."
    • "We at Amazon have noticed that you haven't been barbecuing a lot this summer. Try our summer-friendly steaks!"
  • Posted on: 08/16/2017

    What bad habits do retail solution providers need to break?

    Great column! I'd add another mistake in the pitching phase -- there are many technology companies that cannot succinctly describe what value they bring to the market. If you can't describe your value proposition briefly, and if it's inaccurate on your website, you're going to have difficulty providing value to retailers down the line.

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