PROFILE

Manish Chowdhary

CEO and Founder, Pulse Commerce
Manish Chowdhary is the CEO of Pulse Commerce, the leading cloud platform for order & inventory management. He is a thought leader and speaker for technology innovation and all things ecommerce. In January 2017, Manish was recognized as one of The 30 Most Innovative Business Leaders by Insights Success Magazine. He has been featured in the New York Times, Internet Retailer, and other leading publications.

To learn more about Pulse Commerce, visit: www.pulse-commerce.com
  • VIEW ARTICLES
  • VIEW COMMENTS
  • Posted on: 09/17/2017

    Professor says price gouging is simple supply and demand at work

    The economic arguments outlined are sound. Supply and demand will, as stated above, encourage suppliers outside the affected area to move more product into the affected area.I recall a blackout in Manhattan. Cash machines weren't working. Credit cards couldn't be processed. A bodega let me stock up on water and canned goods on store credit. He didn't double his price. Instead, he gained a customer for life.The retailers with the long term view will think about how they can help their customers, neighbors and community make it through the tragedy. They'll prevent people from hoarding goods by rationing. While that's not a free market approach, it's a humane one.People remember who helped them and who did not. They remember which stores doubled the price of air conditioners in a heatwave, or doubled the price of snow shovels after a storm. And they will remember the stores who seemed to genuinely care about helping everyone weather the storm.
  • Posted on: 09/17/2017

    Survey says grocery has reached its digital tipping point

    Is there any retail category or channel that is not affected by "digital?" No.Are services like Fresh Direct and Amazon Pantry growing? Yes.Has a trip to the grocery store changed substantially? In my opinion, no."Tipping point" is a strong term. It implies that now everyone will alter their way of shopping within the next 10 years. We might have asked this question about smartphones in 2009/2010, and the answer would have been yes.If there is a digital tipping point, what are we tipping towards? With smartphones that answer was clear -- "higher smartphone penetration." In the grocery channel, the answer is still quite unclear.Perhaps, in five or 10 years, we'll be talking about how every trip to the grocery store starts with an online pre-order. Or that more and more grocery stores will look like Amazon Go. In the meantime, until we know what we're tipping towards we have not reached a tipping point.
  • Posted on: 09/17/2017

    Will Postmates’ on-demand delivery work better as a subscription model?

    Without visibility into PostMates profitability, this conversation is a bit of a conjecture, based on each of our perspectives on consumer behavior. It's more challenging to have a perspective on the impact on profitability.HIGH VOLUME USERS WILL SUBSCRIBE Will a subscription model work better for Postmates? From a customer loyalty and usage perspective, the answer is a resounding, "yes." Those customers who believe they'll use the service 2 or more times per month will see the value in subscribing, and with less friction, will likely use the service more, and send less of their orders to Seamless, überEats, et. al.TRANSACTIONAL USERS ONLY USE SERVICE FOR "FAR" ORDERS In a city like Manhattan, though, there's little value in the service if ordering locally. For example, if my favorite Italian restaurant is 2 blocks away, I've been receiving free delivery for years. Why would I pay a $5.99 delivery fee? The implication is that the only reason to use the service on a transactional basis, is if orders are from farther away (i.e. more expensive to deliver).SUBSCRIPTIONS WILL LOWER AVG. DELIVERY DISTANCE This means that, with a free delivery service (i.e. I've already paid my $9.99), I'll start using the service for all orders, including those that deliver free anyway. The net effect is that the average delivery distance will decline, and may boost margins.DIFFERENTIATON How will PostMates differentiate versus Amazon? The same way Amazon does -- the service has to be consistently stellar. Fast. Accurate. Subscription pricing is not a differentiator. Delightful customer experiences are differentiators:
    • Infinite list of restaurants, liquor stores, etc.
    • Fast and accurate delivery -- with hot food delivered hot
    This approach may very well be less about loyalty, and more about decreasing the average order distance to boost margins and profitability.
  • Posted on: 09/16/2017

    Is BOPIS degrading the in-store experience?

    We can also look at BOPIS as a way to: (1) increase online conversions; and (2) bring the online shopper into the store.Consider a consumer who is shopping online for an item they need today -- .e.g. gear for tomorrow's fishing trip, or a gift for tonight's party hosts. Three retailers have the item they want, and at the same price. A store that offers Click & Collect is poised to win. This consumer isn't deciding whether or not to come to *your* store. He or she is avoiding the drive from one store, to the next, to the next. Or, they want to make sure the item is in stock before driving 20 minutes.Once in the store, as Mr. Phibbs and others have mentioned here, a retailer has the opportunity to delight the customer, and entice them back to the store for an enjoyable shopping experience in the future. If we bring an online shopper into the store, we also have another opportunity to deepen the customer's connection and loyalty to the brand.BOPIS may be degrading the in-store experience for some. It's also an opportunity to bring the online shopper into your store, instead of your competitors'.
  • Posted on: 09/15/2017

    Nordstrom tries a no-merchandise store

    Nordstorm is renowned for their customer service. I've experienced it first hand; their culture creates a meaningfully better and different shopping experience. This is especially true for the fashion-challenged.One interesting aspect of the discussion so far is the conjecture about what Nordstrom is seeking to accomplish. Following is some context to consider:
    • $14.5B 2016 revenue
    • $2.5B 2016 ecommerce revenue
    • 123 full-line stores
    • 215 Nordstrom Rack stores
    • Five Trunk Club clubhouses
    I believe there are 2 different goals in play and an interesting approach:
    1. GOAL 1: Differentiate the $2.5B ecommerce business by delivering a new kind of high touch, omnichannel service experience.
    2. GOAL 2: Create a model for introducing that experience to new locations where the economics of a full-line or even a Nordstrom Rack store isn't economically viable. For example, Manhattan's nearest full-line Nordstrom store is in New Jersey.
    They're taking an interesting approach, too.Nordstrom appears to be applying the Lean Startup methodology. This is just one small store in addition to their other 325+ locations -- i.e. this is not a big bet, relatively speaking. Nordstrom can use it as a testing sandbox, continuously adjusting the model until they figure out how to make it flourish. Once they do, following the Lean Startup methodology, they will put their foot on the gas, and open stores in locations they may have already identified.A number of us applauded their test and learn mentality. This is exactly what's happening here. If it's a complete bust, how much money will be lost? If it's a home run, how much share will they take from Saks, Neiman Marcus, and others? The risk/reward equation seems to be very much in their favor.In a world of "innovate or die," this experiment will be a boom for Nordstrom, even if, in isolation, it's a bust.
  • Posted on: 08/11/2017

    Can retailers inspire greater sales using Pinterest?

    Thanks for the interesting post and discussion. There's another good reason to love Pinterest. Pinners.The reason why we can (1) Sell; (2) Advertise; and (3) Entice customers back to the store is because there are over 175mm monthly active users to whom we can... sell, advertise, and lure into our brick & mortar stores.The question of whether to include Pinterest in your customer experience mix --- browsing, shopping, buying, owning -- is long past. The retailers who are behind should catch up fast -- lest they lose their fair share of Pinterest engagement and sales.Working with mid-sized retailers, we've found that they know they need to be there, and grapple with "how." One of them shared his learnings in this webinar about how to market and sell on Pinterest.Pinterest has its own SEO, so to speak. How do you optimize your Pin content? What are the most effective marketing techniques? Given that not every competitor knows the answers, those that do are gaining share in the channel. It will be interesting to see if any retailers manage to leapfrog the competition with their Pinterest expertise.
  • Posted on: 08/11/2017

    Click and collect and ship-from-store change associate job descriptions

    This is a fascinating discussion, full of interesting points.On the one hand, numerous companies and studies have shown sales increases of 20% - 30% from Buy Online Pickup In Store. Plus the elimination of shipping costs.On the other hand, a consumer survey by Ivend showed that only 31.6% of Click & Collect customers found the pickup process to be "smooth."So the opportunities are there for the taking, so long as execution is impeccable. This slideshare about Buy Online Pickup In Store is a good primer for someone reading along who wants to get a clear view of the potential upside and the important execution issues to resolve before making the leap.
  • Posted on: 07/27/2017

    Can robots keep shelves stocked at Schnucks?

    The robotic technology being tested by Schnucks should benefit the customers, employees and vendors. The data that is collected is intended to keep the shelves stocked appropriately if the employee acts on the data s/he receives. Going into a store and seeing fully stocked shelves will make for a better customer experience -- no more trying to reach that last item on the top shelf.Deploying the robot during shopping hours should be monitored -- if there isn’t any interference with the customer, it should not be a problem. Using this technology to aid in forecasting for the vendors is great, but that is just one piece of the supply chain puzzle.
  • Posted on: 07/26/2017

    Can in-store experiences save retail?

    Retailers need to focus on both data analytics and the customer experience. Creating a unique in-store experience can be like creating a unique unboxing experience. Engaging with the customer and gathering information during that process is key -- what works and what doesn’t. How the retailer processes and applies their findings is also important. Consumers will continue to shop online, but keeping the consumer brand loyal is also important.
  • Posted on: 07/20/2017

    Will facial recognition tech make for happier customers at Walmart?

    Customer service and customer satisfaction are both important to Walmart as with all retailers, but adding in facial recognition is not going to be the solution to customer service and staffing reduction. The information collected and communicated back to the store personnel can be interpreted in all kinds of ways. The accuracy of the information is not foolproof and what the employee does with that information does not guarantee success.Customers may not appreciate this technology and many would find it an invasion of privacy. If someone is having a rough day, they may not want to engage with the store personnel. This will probably not reduce staffing costs and could result in additional customer issues.There can be benefits with regards to data analysis on consumer behaviors, but privacy concerns will continue to be a hurdle.
  • Posted on: 07/19/2017

    Will Dick’s price match keep it on top of the sporting goods category?

    Dick’s will continue to feel the competitive pressure from Amazon and other online retailers. It is great that they are offering the “best price guarantee” and many people will take advantage of that offering. There are some consumers that will go all out to get the lowest price on an item and take the extra time to call in, speak to a rep and finish the checkout over the phone. Then there are the other consumers that would rather checkout quickly and save their time (which is also money).Dick’s price match will likely maintain its market share -- it won’t hurt them.
  • Posted on: 07/18/2017

    Is online fulfillment from stores too complex for e-grocery?

    Currently, consumers using in-store fulfillment may be accustomed to something being out-of-stock. The current expectations seem a little lower than in other retail channels. That expectation is going to change quickly. The need for real-time inventory visibility is growing with all online retailers.Systems are becoming more advanced to meet these needs, maybe not as quickly as we would like. Having a 360 view of your inventory is extremely important. Even more important is having your inventory be accurate. This will be a challenge for online grocery retailers, but technology will start to catch up.
  • Posted on: 07/14/2017

    Will Walmart win back-to-school with click and collect services?

    Walmart is on the right track with making BTS less of a hassle. With offering store pickup options and the Teacher List, it creates a stress-free way to get it done for users that are comfortable engaging online. And having in-store customer service to help the consumer find everything on their list, they are continuing to build that relationship with their consumer that may not be as comfortable online.Understanding that back-to-school shopping can be stressful -- for both the consumers that are more digital orientated and the consumers that would rather walk into the store and engage -- is extremely important. Walmart is stepping it up with their BTS offerings to address their online consumers and their in-store consumers. These solutions will have an impact on their sales.
  • Posted on: 07/12/2017

    How is Walgreens getting older shoppers to use its mobile app?

    Several of the challenges for older consumers (or any consumer) using apps on mobile devices is trust/security and usability.The Walgreens app keeps it simple and takes into consideration their older audience. Having an app that is simple does not make it bad. Ease of use should be adopted by other retailers -- it brings the retailer closer to the consumer. Features in the app like the pill reminder are another touch point for the retailer to the consumer that strengthens brand loyalty. How quickly and easily you can refill your prescription and understand that it went through to the pharmacist or access information about your prescription gives the user a sense of confidence and trust in the retailer.
  • Posted on: 07/11/2017

    Will Prime Day give Amazon an insurmountable advantage online?

    With or without Prime Day 2017, Amazon will continue being a leader in the online retail community, no doubt there.Since Prime Day is only available to Prime subscribers, that alone will drive subscriptions.The Prime Day discounts on the Echo devices, Dash buttons, and Fire devices will continue to create a growing presence in consumers everyday lives. Amazon is making it easier to purchase with these devices by making them a part of your surroundings and making Amazon part of everyday life.It will be interesting to see the numbers from Prime Day 2017 and to see what Amazon comes up with for 2018.

Contact Manish