Debbie Hauss

Editor-in-Chief, Retail TouchPoints

In her role as Editor-in-Chief, Debbie manages the multi-media components of Retail TouchPoints, including a weekly newsletter with an audience of more than 23,000 retail executives. She has worked as an editorial manager, writer and editor in various industries for more than 25 years. Debbie has served as the Managing Editor for Retail Information Systems News, the Chief Content Editor for, and a Project Manager and Copy Editor for a Lexis Nexis web site called In her spare time she runs marathons.

  • Posted on: 07/18/2016

    Pokémon Go showcases potential of augmented reality in retail

    I've been fascinated by how quickly this took off, and among a wide variety of age groups. My 28-year-old son said it is nostalgic for his group of friends, since they all played the card game when they were much younger. He also said he literally walked 10 miles in a few days playing the game. So from a fitness standpoint, for those who spend hours and days sitting playing these games, I'm glad to see some healthy activity associated with it.I do think it will drive traffic to stores who sponsor the game, but as we've seen already there are some hazards. Some folks are playing in inappropriate places, such as Arlington National Cemetery; some people have gotten injured by not paying attention to where they going; while others have been lured into unsafe spots. Game organizers must try to mitigate some of the negatives before getting significant buy-in from sponsors who want to put their name on it.
  • Posted on: 07/15/2016

    What is Starbucks baking up with its latest investment?

    I think it's a very niche investment. Quality control certainly will be an issue. And will the smell of baked goods overtake the coffee aromas we're used to when we walk into a Starbucks? As a chain-wide initiative, I think bringing in the ability to offer in-store baked items is valuable. Consumers want high-quality food items, especially at a retailer where they're spending top dollar on their daily caffeine fix.
  • Posted on: 07/13/2016

    Amazon declares victory – Prime Day II concludes

    Sales and new memberships certainly are going to be the key factors determining the success of Prime Day 2016. Also, the panic that was created in the industry among other retailers also is an indicator that Amazon and Prime Day are competitors that need to be reckoned with. As a consumer, I looked at the site a few times yesterday but did not end up making any purchases. Last year I was more motivated to purchase on Prime Day. Does that make me a consumer outlier in this case? Maybe.
  • Posted on: 07/12/2016

    Walmart counters Prime Day with free shipping, no minimum required

    I think Walmart needs to do both -- compete with Amazon on Prime Day and create its own unique events/promotions that will resonate with its most loyal shoppers. But ... I read recently that Prime members may be wealthier than the average citizen. That could mean that Walmart and Prime aren't really targeting the same shoppers, so maybe it's a waste of time, money and effort for Walmart to try to lure non-customers away, especially on this highly-promoted event day.
  • Posted on: 07/11/2016

    Will drop-off points boost online sales?

    Drop-off points will help all parties, including sellers, buyers and shippers. For sellers, it's a great way to have a secure place to ship items without having to open stores. Amazon, for example, has opened up drop-off/pickup points on college campuses -- a brilliant way to continue a relationship with the next generation of consumers. Drop-off points also have been great ways for city dwellers and others to receive packages securely and not have to worry about packages being nabbed from their front porches or outside their apartments.
  • Posted on: 02/16/2016

    Wine stores face threat from direct-to-consumer channel

    Maybe they should focus on Millennials more. I just saw a statistic that people ages 21 to 38 drink 42 percent of the wine sold. Nevertheless, I think the stores must embrace this as an omnichannel challenge. I do both — buy online and in-store — depending on a number of circumstances. Wine merchants like Total Wine are employing new digital video technology to educate consumers while in-store. Also, wine tastings cannot be repeated online. Wine retailers need to figure out better ways to boost basket size when they get shoppers into the store in addition to doing what all brick-and-mortar retailers need to do today: Make the in-store experience unique and compelling.

  • Posted on: 01/29/2016

    Study finds widespread benefit to lenient return policies

    Especially during the holiday season it helps to have a longer, more lenient return policy. Gift-givers will have a greater comfort level purchasing a product if they know the recipient will have enough time to return or exchange the item. So yes, I think this study has validity in some ways. That said, I don't think retailers should change their policies just for the holiday season. They should have a solid return policy in place year-round that employees and shoppers understand, so there is no confusion on either side. Confusion creates problems which impacts customer service negatively, driving brand-switching and a dip in loyalty.

  • Posted on: 01/28/2016

    Is the convenience economy convenient for retailers?

    The ability to access products and services on-demand in real time will just continue to fuel consumers' expectations to be able to get what they want now! Retailers should be looking for the right partners to facilitate these experiences, from beacon technology to Uber delivery services. I expect a lot of these types of convenience solutions to percolate in the industry in the next few years. As always, if retailers want to stay ahead of the competition they may need to take a chance on a not-yet-proven solution and hope that it has staying power for the long term. Businesses must be willing to try out quick test-and-fail/win projects.

  • Posted on: 10/05/2015

    Has mobile created a new marketing moment of truth?

    These micro-moments definitely are altering the research and decision-making process for consumers. Retailers should be considering this as they formulate customer engagement strategies. Two key questions are: What are the types of content that are going to resonate with shoppers in these brief periods of time? How can we direct shoppers to other channels where they will spend more time and eventually complete a purchase?

  • Posted on: 07/16/2015

    Is the future of upscale grocery in Aurora, IL?

    If they get the details right, it certainly could rival some of the other upscale grocers. It sounds like they are taking on a lot at one time and some things could fall through the cracks. I'll be interested to find out post-grand opening results.

  • Posted on: 07/15/2015

    How steep is the creep factor?

    They can mitigate concerns by being as open as possible, not using hidden cameras or devices and being clear about opt-in. Then it's vital to offer relevant and valuable reasons why shoppers should participate. If they feel they are getting a significant value out of participating, they are more likely to appreciate the program. Finally, don't overdo it! If you start inundating shoppers with messages and emails they will opt out.

  • Posted on: 07/14/2015

    Walmart and Amazon trade shots

    Amazon has gotten a lot of attention for Prime Day and I think Amazon will prevail during this event, on July 15 anyway. Otherwise I think different shoppers are visiting Amazon and Walmart for different reasons so I don't see this rivalry as the most significant one moving forward. I'm also not sold on July being the next big shopping season unless these sales get a lot more attention and offer unique opportunities for consumers.

  • Posted on: 06/22/2015

    Mobile loyalty programs fail to take off

    First, retailers need to get it right when it comes to delivering a mobile app that is easy to use and effective. If consumers get frustrated when they are trying to search for a product or complete a purchase, they will abandon the mobile experience. Second, the mobile loyalty program must be relevant and unique — to give shoppers a reason to not only download the app but also to use it on a regular basis.

  • Posted on: 05/26/2015

    Zappos pays up to support Holacracy vision

    Holacracy seems to be creating some tension within the organization and motivating employees to take the $2,000 and run. And Tony Hsieh has acknowledged that the system is not catching on fast enough within the organization. I think the concept has some potential but will have to be tweaked in order to be sustainable.

  • Posted on: 04/01/2015

    Walking a mile in the digital shopper’s shoes

    When it comes to mobile, ease, relevance and simplicity are key, as Nikki points out. Shoppers don't want to have to sift through irrelevant noise on their mobile devices before finding what they are looking for. They will be less patient on their mobile devices vs. their PCs, so the fewer clicks the better.

    Also, obviously real-time shopper data must be available at every touch point along the journey. If a customer started the experience at home on their PC, then continued it on their smartphone and finally ended up in the store, the store associate needs to have that information in hand as soon as the shopper enters the store in order to deliver the desired personalized experience.

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