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: 07/27/2017

    Will ‘doubling down’ on tech help McD’s disrupt the fast food business?

    McDonald's has a 45,000 square foot innovation lab near their headquarters that focuses not only on technology, but also on menu innovations from around the world. It's hard to know which new developments will benefit the company, but give them credit for trying.
  • Posted on: 07/25/2017

    Will dropping prices on cosmetics drive traffic to department stores?

    Discounting isn't the answer -- the customer experience is. Try makeup demonstrations in the store. Provide spa services. Install some interactive kiosks. Department stores can't compete with drug stores by price, but they can take a page from Ulta's and Sephora's books and amp up the experience.
  • Posted on: 07/24/2017

    Do mini makeup studios make sense for Sephora?

    In the era of experiences over things, this move makes a lot of sense. The concept has already been vetted (as the comment about Ulta proves) and there are plenty of markets that haven't yet been penetrated, like college towns. Studios make a lot of sense.
  • Posted on: 07/20/2017

    How much Big Data do retailers really need?

    Use of corporate data assets is a regular topic among the retailers I have dinner with. Most say that there are multiple, disparate analytics platforms across their companies and no one is in charge of unifying those data points into actionable information. One company said that they couldn't identify their customers, despite the fact that 100 percent of transactions are delivered to customers' homes. The industry has a long way to go.
  • Posted on: 07/18/2017

    Is Best Buy’s latest Geek Squad service a blueprint for niche IoT?

    This is a huge opportunity for Best Buy, which has a presence all over the country. As in-home IoT offerings multiply, the need for customer assistance will rise, particularly among those of us who aren't digital natives. In addition, installing and servicing IoT devices gives Best Buy new relevance. I'm always impressed at the direction Mr. Joly is taking this company.
  • Posted on: 07/14/2017

    Will an AR try-on app cut down on online clothing returns?

    We've been having this discussion for years and we'll continue to have it, because sizes aren't in any way predictable. AR isn't going to change the way a garment fits. Online apparel sales are going to generate a lot of returns until we can figure out how to convey what size an item is beyond vague terms like "medium."
  • Posted on: 07/13/2017

    Will more customer rewards lift J.C. Penney’s sales?

    I loved the Ron Johnson-era J.C. Penney with its shiny stores, ultra-low prices and no price-it-up and discount-it-down pricing. Apparently I was the only one. I'll predict success here.
  • Posted on: 07/13/2017

    How will the Supreme Court’s decision on Trump’s travel ban affect retailers?

    Shrewd employers like Apple and Starbucks know how important it is to make all associates feel valued, and heard. To the question of how non-desk workers without corporate email addresses will be reached, don't underestimate the power of media to spread the word.
  • Posted on: 07/12/2017

    Will Amazon’s answer to the ‘Geek Squad’ help put Alexa in more homes?

    There's a huge opportunity going forward. Alexa is only the beginning; smart appliances, LED lighting and IoT of all kinds in the home are next. It's surprising that Apple hasn't surged to the forefront ... but Google will happily take the lead.
  • Posted on: 06/28/2017

    Can fitness classes wake up retail store traffic?

    OK, let's talk about what kinds of experiences could work in various kinds of formats. Cooking lesson in a grocery store? Check. Makeovers in Ulta? Of course. Ping pong in Brooks Brothers? Probably not. Customers crave authenticity, and they know a gimmick when they see one.
  • Posted on: 06/26/2017

    Will Sears get traction with its new appliance and mattress store concept?

    What will Sears try next?Sears keeps trying to re-make itself, while closing hundreds of stores and gaining a reputation as a dead man walking. At this point, the proud tradition of Sears, Roebuck (one of my former employers) is long gone. It's hard to imagine what they could attempt that would work in this environment.
  • Posted on: 06/21/2017

    Will Amazon Prime Wardrobe change how Americans shop for clothes?

    Yikes. Prime Wardrobe looks like a loss leader that will cost Amazon a bundle in the short run, but will take market share away from competitors later on. I can only imagine the conversations being held in apparel and by department store executive suites this week.
  • Posted on: 06/20/2017

    Will UPS’s Black Friday delivery surcharge have retailers seeing red?

    While they probably won't do it, this is an opportunity for retailers to train customers to think ahead by NOT eating the surcharge. Christmas has the same date every year ... why wait until December 23 to start shopping?
  • Posted on: 06/20/2017

    Can humanizing self-checkouts reduce theft?

    Let's start with the idea that SCO is fine for a few items, but a customer who has $150 worth of groceries (and potentially a toddler) in her cart just doesn't want to determine what the right secret code for endive is. No amount of "personalization" is going to persuade her that it's in her interest to make her do the work at checkout. I understand the point of the study, but would suggest that the best way to prevent theft at checkout is to have a human eyeballing the cart and ringing items.
  • Posted on: 06/19/2017

    Did Amazon just patent tech that could end showrooming in its stores?

    Ahh...the irony of having a shiny new technology that you cannot ever use...!

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