Frank Riso

Principal, Frank Riso Associates, LLC

Frank Riso has over fifty years serving the retail industry, beginning at store level management.  He started his career at Grand Union Supermarkets, installing Grand Union’s first POS scanning systems. Frank worked for Twin County Grocers, a cooperative wholesaler, as its Director of Retail Services, and for Supermation, an application provider for DSD software, as its Vice President of Sales and Marketing, until joining Symbol Technologies in 1991. Symbol was acquired by Motorola in 2007 which became Motorola Solutions, Inc (MSI) in 2009.  At MSI, Frank was in charge of their retail industry business, the largest part of MSI’s enterprise business.

Frank has served the retail industry as an associate member of National Retail National Association of Convenient Stores and the Food Marketing Institute. He was elected to serve on the Associate Member Council for NRF, and he is a past member of the Board of Directors for the International Retail User Group.  In addition to being a noted speaker and author in the field of retail automation, he is frequently quoted in RIS News, Retailwire, Chain Store Age, Supermarket News, Grocery Headquarters, Progressive Grocer, Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, and The New York Times.  He was also an adjunct professor at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City in the Global Fashion Management graduate program.

Frank holds an engineering degree in Electrical Technology from Westchester, a BS degree in Marketing from Rutgers, and an MS degree in the Management of Technology and Innovation for Retail from NYU Polytechnic University. He has five U.S. Patents regarding the use of portable data devices in retail.

  • Posted on: 03/27/2017

    Will ‘ambitious store redesign’ lift Target to new heights?

    The change at Target is an innovation that is long overdue. However, many other retailers and mostly grocers have tried the "ease" approach and then reverted back to normal grocery shopping as it did not produce the sales expected. The new store design will help Target differentiate itself from Walmart by being a step above in both quality and design. Target needs to be different and that is exactly what is happening here. The inspiration section will do very well and using two entrances is a great and new idea for Target.
  • Posted on: 03/06/2017

    Is raising membership fees getting riskier for Costco?

    There really is no great time to raise fees, however there is no better time than now. Costco has completed its transition from Amex to Visa and its members are starting to see the returns in rebate checks from their use of the Visa card. Raising the fee now would be offset by some of their rebates so the timing is OK. Costco's biggest threat continues to be Sam's Club, which will use the increase in rates to attempt to lure away Costco members. They will be unsuccessful but will give it the "Walmart try" for sure.
  • Posted on: 03/03/2017

    Will VR/AR keep consumers out of stores?

    I actually think it will make the store even more relevant for consumers. Not many if any retailer will ship items for free and many more will want consumers in the store for impulse buys. Therefore, the click and collect model of online and AR/VR shopping will be the norm and make stores more relevant. The technologies are great for those who can afford them and like to use them, but sooner or later something else will cone along and take over. However, if the shopper wants to see and/or try on product the instant buy will still be at the store -- the customer will have to go there if only to pick up the product.
  • Posted on: 03/01/2017

    How omnichannel is offering wholesalers and retailers new partnering opportunities

    I do see an opportunity for third-party distributors to assist retailers but in no way can they develop themselves into a new business. Sending the product ordered by a consumer via the retailer to the retailer for pick up would work well for distributors. It would allow for an increase in business but would also maintain their distribution network and not create a new one. Even if the distributors partnered with the retailers to offer them more business as they entered a click-and-collect direct business they would need them to again send the product for collection at a retailer. For the distributor to start to send product directly to the consumer or, better yet, thousands of consumers would not be a profitable change to their model. Let their new partners, the retailers, help them and then it is a win-win!
  • Posted on: 02/27/2017

    Why are stores waiting until checkout to ID shoppers?

    At this early stage of the use of the technology, shopper apprehension would be the bigger issue. There is a bit of a shock factor when your phone beeps a message to you upon walking into a store. The technology as I know it is very solid to be able to track a MAC address as long as the phone's Wi-Fi feature is turned on. Most of us leave it on anyway. Those shoppers who have the retailer's app, and they are few, expect to see a message upon entering the store. I do think more awareness on the part of the retailer may help but making good offers via the phone would also work to the retailer's benefit. Do not just tell customers what is on sale but what special sale is there for them based on their shopping history. Most people like to be greeted by store staff and especially by managers. Retailers who use the Wi-Fi phone app to greet shoppers could be a more practical path to a more aggressive use of the technology.
  • Posted on: 02/03/2017

    Will a new staffing model improve Lowe’s customer service?

    Staffing changes are not the key to Lowe's future success. They need to continue to invest in technology but not robots and give the staff the technology to be able to answer questions, find products and check inventory. Anyone who knows me knows I am a big fan of giving each floor staffer a mobile device to help them be knowledgeable and engaging with the customer. If I have the information or can get it, why not help each customer? It's not robots but people that make real customer service work -- for Lowe's or for any retailer!
  • Posted on: 02/01/2017

    How will online shopping transform the grocery business?

    Today, many households need two incomes to enjoy the lifestyle they want to have and so I do see online shopping for groceries reaching the tipping point sooner than later. We will continue to see smaller chains either sell out or disappear and it will be a survival of the fittest. The industry will adjust as it did to the advent of c-stores, super centers, dollar stores and even in response to the rise of quick-serve restaurants. It will be better but smaller with chains such as Kroger, Publix, Albertsons, Wegmans and Whole Foods doing well.
  • Posted on: 01/24/2017

    Will growing competition in Florida slow Publix as it heads north?

    Not much of a chance Publix has such strong roots in Florida that even with most of the competition it still does very well. Their biggest challenge would be Walmart since so many retirees in Florida have limited spending ability. However, the lack of friendly workers at a Walmart gives Publix the edge in service. I do think a Wegmans far exceeds a Publix and they will begin to border on each other somewhere in the Carolinas and that will be an interesting and competitive story someday soon.
  • Posted on: 01/13/2017

    Penney CEO says stores critical to omnichannel push

    Marvin Ellison believes he is on the road to recovery for J.C. Penney and lets hope he is on that road. In doing so, he knows that the stores will play a big role when he finds the right solution and/or software that joins the online/mobile experience with that of shopping at the store. Does the store have what I need? If not, what nearby store does, or do I buy online to get my item? Without the stores it becomes a pure online business and again it's UPS and FedEx making all the profits. I do approve of the strategy and more retailers need to take the bold step of finding a way that in-store and online can both work to support each other. Something to look for and find at NRF this year!
  • Posted on: 01/04/2017

    What does the strong 2016 Christmas foretell for retail in 2017?

    Retailers should know that a good Christmas shopping season is the indicator for the year to come. So all things being equal it should be a good year for retail. As long as the stock market continues to do well and people have confidence in the newly elected administration consumers will continue to spend more. There will be ups and downs but for the long haul all will be good if indicators continue as they have in past years.
  • Posted on: 01/03/2017

    Should Costco raise its membership fees?

    Costco is in a solid position competitively to raise its membership fees, especially for the value one gets by being a member. The company's excellent return policy and the warranties on all electronics are values that can support the increase.Competition from Amazon and others will always be there and the management at Costco will continue to be more innovative and not only meet but beat them most of the time. The crowds and parking hassles will continue to be a Costco tradition we love to hate, yet checkout seems to be quick and efficient every time!
  • Posted on: 12/21/2016

    Can Fred’s thrive as a national competitor?

    Fred's has been more regional than national and may find it very difficult to play with the big boys. If they can change their image to be more of the hometown pharmacy maybe they can compete, but I do not think so. No offense to the company but the name "Fred's" does not bring a warm caring and kind vibe to me. But then again a company named Walgreens did it and so did Consumer Value Stores (CVS' original name). It is going to be a rough road for Fred's.
  • Posted on: 12/13/2016

    The RetailWire Christmas Commercial Challenge: Macy’s vs. Target

    I do like the Macy's ad over Target's message. First of all Target's "The Toycracker" is too long and the message is too complex. Macy's on the other hand is simple and more on-message to their theme even if it hints at being a commercial. I think more adults and children will connect with Macy's vs. the infomercial from Target. Target may lose a customer or two!
  • Posted on: 12/09/2016

    Does Costco need to follow a different path online?

    I do not see Costco aggressively improving their online business. The key to warehouse club shopping is the hunt for new stuff that was not there last month or even last week. A real treasure hunt! I have yet to find any real threat to the Costco model except maybe in the purchase of large items such as outdoor furniture. It is easier to have these items delivered for free than to haul them home from Costco. Costco does carry some items online that don't appear in their clubs. Continuing to carry those items and more may be their greatest opportunity online.
  • Posted on: 12/07/2016

    H-E-B’s go local approach produces results

    It is a good start on the new local sourcing trend we are seeing in grocery. It is done mostly in produce, but now teaming up with local restaurants will appeal to many customers. I do question the taste and quality of the product as so many microwaves and ovens are different. I would also question if the restaurant going into manufacturing is a new opportunity for growth or failure. It's been done before with P.F. Chang's, and very successfully, but there were more items, too.

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