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: 10/28/2016

    Can retailers overcome the challenges of urban deliveries?

    This piece describes issues around deliveries in dense urban areas, but in less dense areas like the leafy streets in my area of Washington, DC, package theft is an issue.There's an opportunity here for third-party receivers to handle this traffic. Buildings that have some extra space (think: post offices) can receive packages and hold them for a small fee. I'm surprised we haven't seen this happen yet, but as deliveries surge, we might.
  • Posted on: 10/26/2016

    Driverless truck delivers 50K cans of Bud on supply run

    I'm not thrilled about having a semi behind me when the driver has decades of experience. I'm less thrilled about having a semi behind me with nobody in the driver's seat.At some point (probably in the near future) driverless trucks will be everywhere ... but there's plenty we don't know about these vehicles, and we should move ahead deliberately and carefully.
  • Posted on: 10/25/2016

    It’s the Millennials’ world

    I agree with Paula about Generation X, but Millennials are the ones who are purchasing furniture, stand mixers and a fair number of cars at the same time that a lot of Boomers are thinking about downsizing. Lifetime brand affiliations are being made; the smartest retailers are the ones who saw this coming five years ago and started to move beyond the daily email to multifaceted engagement.
  • Posted on: 10/24/2016

    Saks, Ralph Lauren lure customers with upscale services

    As forced as these examples seem, retailers will want to focus on the store experience at every level and price point. Look at the rise of Ulta, which offers services in addition to products, and big-box sporting goods stores, which are destinations in themselves. There are estimates that Amazon now accounts for more than 20 percent of U.S. retail -- traditional retailers need to step up the in-store game.
  • Posted on: 10/21/2016

    What follows all-day breakfast at McDonald’s?

    Just the stat that only 20% of Millennials have ever eaten a Big Mac should send a thunderbolt through Oak Brook. McDonald's should absolutely examine every aspect of the business, along with a SWOT comparison to competitors, to determine the way forward. It's a big job — but it's necessary!
  • Posted on: 10/20/2016

    Will Millennials abandon traditional grocers?

    Adrian is right; Millennials do pride themselves on seeking out the new and unusual. But since many non-traditional retailers don't carry non-food items like paper towels and charcoal, who will inherit that market?
  • Posted on: 10/18/2016

    Walmart finds it pays to pay workers better

    Walmart has taken a huge PR hit from the massive taxpayer subsidy of its underpaid workers. (That even merited a scene in House of Cards.) Walmart seems to be moving in a positive direction; we can all hope that they continue in this direction and realize the benefits we all predicted.
  • Posted on: 10/17/2016

    Pharmacy charges ‘man tax’

    This was a stunt, but it was successful because it got our attention.The events of this election season are provoking an unprecedented national discussion about what it's like to be female. I don't see a pink tax movement gaining steam, but our level of awareness is rising, and that in itself is promising.
  • Posted on: 10/15/2016

    Target to test vertical farms in stores

    Great example of big thinking. The best part is that customers will love this ... and Millennials, particularly, will appreciate the authenticity.
  • Posted on: 10/11/2016

    AmazonFresh lowers annual subscription via a $15 monthly rate

    I would never add $14.99 a month to my grocery bill, but devotees of Amazon will. There are millions of shoppers for whom Amazon Prime is embedded deeply into the reptile portion of the brain. For them, shopping with Amazon is synonymous with shopping itself, and they'll perceive the monthly fee as do-able. I'll predict success.
  • Posted on: 10/07/2016

    Target piloting Amazon Alexa voice search rival

    NLP is in its infancy, but the results are already pretty impressive. I saw a demonstration of IBM's Watson a few months ago and it's stunning. The question going forward for retailers is whether customers will get used to using it and, if so, how retailers who don't have it will survive, since younger customers are devourers of all things tech.
  • Posted on: 10/05/2016

    Will Craftsman be better off without Sears?

    White flag moment, indeed. Everyone knows that Sears is in a death spiral, despite Mr. Lampert's comments to the contrary. And while selling off the best-known brands would provide needed short-term cash, Sears would need to come up with other compelling reasons for customers to visit, beyond a middling apparel assortment. If you were running Sears, what would you do to make the store experience more compelling?
  • Posted on: 10/04/2016

    Best Buy speeds start-ups to selling floor

    This could be a really powerful concept.Going forward, in-store retail is going to be about the experience. When retailers can bring new and interesting products into the store, they win. That will be especially true if those products are completely novel to the customer. Under Mr. Joly, Best Buy continues to re-invent itself and stay interesting ... kudos.
  • Posted on: 10/03/2016

    Will customers give Amazon the keys to their smart homes?

    Amazon has confounded expectations in other areas -- like Amazon Prime -- and may do it again in this case. There are good reasons that some customers may want to opt for in-home delivery ... but I would doubt that we'd see wide adoption. There are already security concerns around IoT, and adding strangers with physical access to the mix seems prone to problems. I'd predict only niche adoption.
  • Posted on: 09/26/2016

    Will Walmart’s ‘restorative justice’ reduce shoplifting?

    The dirty little secret about retail loss prevention is that the police don't want to respond to a call about someone dropping a package of steak into their pants. To the degree that Walmart can address the problem directly they win, and so do honest customers.

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