PROFILE

Mark Price

Managing Partner, LiftPoint Consulting, Inc.

Mark Price is founder and managing partner and founder of LiftPoint Consulting Group, which he has led for over 14 years.  He is a frequent speaker at conferences as an expert on data-driven marketing and authors articles on the same topic. Mark has a podcast called The Lift Point and also blogs regularly.  He is responsible for leading client engagements, e-commerce and database marketing and talent acquisition for his firm.

Prior to founding LiftPoint Consulting in 2002, Mark was the Practice Leader for Zamba Solutions, focusing on data warehousing, marketing automation and data mining. Mark’s business experience also includes brand management at General Mills and Ralston Purina.

Mark has an MBA from the Darden School of the University of Virginia and a BA from Haverford College. He lives in Eden Prairie, Minn., with his wife,  poodle and Great Dane.

Other Links from Mark Price:

LiftPoint Consulting Blog

 

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  • Posted on: 09/27/2016

    Can a revamped Office Depot compete with digital?

    If workplace design and IT help are the cornerstones of the new Office Depot design, then I am concerned with their viability. What is needed is a new look at an old concept — capitalizing on the strengths of retail, the immediacy of the experience and the personalization — to differentiate against the online providers. Training of store associates must be the cornerstone, as well as a true customer first philosophy. Expanding services is part of the answer, but if the customer experience does not move along with it, and if the services are me-too, then the effort will be doomed.
  • Posted on: 09/01/2016

    Has American Girl made a wise move into Toys ‘R’ Us?

    If you are going into mass retail, American Girl is doing it in the right way. Do not offer the core brand, but keep it for your higher end retail channels. Offer lower priced sub brands and accessories at the mass retail level. In this way, you can keep the brand still prestigious and have access to the volume available through a mass retailer like Toys.
  • Posted on: 09/01/2016

    Amazon to test 30-hour week

    I think this move is unexpected, since Amazon is famous for the 60 to 70 hour work week. For warehouse workers and certain non-line departments it may make sense; for the rest of the organization it represents too large a pivot to be believable.
  • Posted on: 08/31/2016

    Retail executives have no clue about digital

    The greatest barrier for retail executives today is the perception that digital, while important, still represents about 1 store's amount of retail dollars. The low amount of total dollars has led retailers to discount the importance of retail and specifically mobile, in consumer purchase activity.The greatest priority, given the uncertain patterns of retail sales, have been on developing the strongest combination of discounts and products to drive enough sales to meet expectations. Long-term vision and planning has been difficult to do in such an environment. However, that is no excuse. Without the short-term there is no long-term; but the converse is also true. Lack of long range planning will lead to more of the same — commoditization and price discounts.
  • Posted on: 08/31/2016

    Is good karma the newest customer reward?

    At this point, retailers have spent their way into parity in loyalty programs. Ultimately, to differentiate their brands, retailers must use content and commitment to succeed. Sharing "karma" opportunities with consumers is one approach, but ultimately to reach a large share of their highly profitable best customers, retailers will need to personalize communications and develop communications that fit the needs of these highly valuable customers.
  • Posted on: 08/02/2016

    Where should retailers concentrate their tech focus?

    Technology presents two major opportunities -- supply chain and customer experience. From a supply chain perspective, costs can be reduced and profits increased by reducing out-of-stocks (which also can improve customer experience). From a customer experience standpoint, optimizing for mobile and improving the website experience as well as improving store associate interactions are critical areas where technology can make a big impact.No need to be "state of the art" -- these aspects are the basic blocking and tackling of improving customer experience to drive greater AOV and customer retention. Make the experience as quick and pleasant for customers as possible -- that is a good investment of technology dollars.
  • Posted on: 08/01/2016

    Is online a bigger threat to independent merchants than big boxes?

    I am not sure that the positioning of "local" will have a meaningful impact on a large segment of customers. Customers are drawn to physical stores for a number of reasons, based on their segments — convenience, variety, service, support, etc. Online is a grater threat to larger retailers because those retailers have more generic product and poor/average service. As a result, they can only compete on price.
  • Posted on: 07/29/2016

    Will 365 concept prove to be the future of Whole Foods?

    The ERP elements of the 365 store concept are long overdue. Centralized buying and auto-replenishment have been accepted practices in grocery for some time. If those factors drive the cost savings, then all is to the good.However, by reducing customer-associate contact in the store and making it more self-serve, Whole Foods risks alienating the customer segment that builds personal relationships and needs associate support in-store. The self-serve segment may be valuable in the short-term, but ultimately will be limiting over time.
  • Posted on: 07/28/2016

    Is it time for marketers to embrace radical transparency?

    While I admire the sentiment around radical transparency, I am not sure that consumers have yet been trained in what is a fair market value (mark-up) that retailers should receive. Also, those costs vary substantially from retailer to retailer and even from store-to-store.Also, and perhaps more importantly, the price of a product is not determined by a cost-plus mentality but by the perceived value that the customer has for the item they wish to purchase. Training customers to focus on price as a relative mark-up it to ignore that value equation entirely.
  • Posted on: 07/26/2016

    Why has retail’s transition to data-driven enterprises been so arduous?

    In my experience working in retail customer analytics, I have found that the biggest challenges have nothing to do with analytics at all. Rather, the hurdles involve organizational structure, culture and compensation.Accepting insight from a team outside the merchant group is often seen as a loss of power and influence to a group that has long believed that they run the company. The "gut instinct" and "I know the category better than any data could show" culture leads retailers to continue old merchandise selection and discounting practices. For example, every segmentation I have done has shown that some stores index higher for specific segments than others — yet how many retailers do you know that vary store layout and assortment based on that insight?Finally, compensation. If merchants are compensated on margin percent or simply on margin from their category alone, they will be unwilling to adjust products, offers or timing to meet customer needs. Instead they will drive the company to continue to "force" products down the throats of consumers who do not need them, just like in the old days.Until those issues are addressed, customer analytics will always face a serious uphill battle for acceptance.
  • Posted on: 07/22/2016

    Will AI mobile apps replace associates on Macy’s sales floor?

    There is a significant consumer segment that prefers to deal with technology on their own time and at their own pace, rather than have to wait for customer service or support. The ability to access real-time inventory at a location level, as well as rapid answers to standardized questions, will improve perceptions of customer service as well as free up time for store associates to reduce out-of-stocks and improve the check-out experience as well. A strong move forward -- for the right segment, of course.Other segments will continue to want in-person service and will be unwilling to migrate to technology solutions -- so the answer must be multi-faceted to succeed.
  • Posted on: 07/08/2016

    Are in-store personalization tactics becoming less creepy?

    Remember, when these surveys are conducted, they tend to be among all shoppers. The key question is, how do your best and highest potential customers respond to this new technology? Those segments are the most important and deserve special focus.Overall, in-store personalization will become less creepy based on its ability to improve the customer experience and provide valuable information to customers at the point-of-purchase.As store associates become more comfortable leveraging technology to make suggestions and provide valuable information to customers, these tactics will move into the mainstream. It is not just the technology, after all; it is how that technology is delivered that matters.As consumers also become more comfortable with location-based marketing on their mobile phones, retailers will be able to use customer purchase history and location-based services to provide information to customers on their own devices.Over time, I have grown less and less concerned about the "creepy" factor. Consumers are increasing the rate at which they accept new technology and strategies, when that technology can actually make a difference in their lives.
  • Posted on: 07/07/2016

    Do retail marketers have an appetite for data science?

    Retailers today face a difficult challenge in their analytic strategies. They need to move quickly to identify and take advantage of market opportunities, and may need to leverage an analytic infrastructure that could take months if not years to develop, particularly when you take into account the integration of multiple sources into a single view of the customer.Hiring data scientists does not solve this problem. The best analytics is not valuable to a company if the insights cannot be acted upon. Outsourcing analytics to a firm that combines data science with a deep understanding of what is practical can permit retailers to accelerate the implementation of the insights dramatically. Over time, retailers will become more adept at conducting their own analytics, however if the goal is to accelerate time to action an outsourced firm represents a strong opportunity.Note: my firm provides customer analytics and execution support for retailers, so I am slightly biased :-)!
  • Posted on: 07/06/2016

    Should retailers outsource delivery logistics?

    There are tremendous upsides and very few disadvantages to outsourcing delivery logistics for small to medium size retailers. The question is one of focus — smaller organizations must concentrate on reinforcing their key differentiators to their most profitable customer segments. Whether that is finding unique products, delivering support services that are different than larger organizations or providing content, these organizations must be crystal clear in their focus in order to thrive and succeed.The only downside of outsourcing logistics and delivery is if the outsourced partner cannot be consistent in their services. Then the blame will fall squarely on the retailer, who has limited ability to identify or fix the issues.Nonetheless, I am a huge fan of this approach.
  • Posted on: 07/05/2016

    Are out-of-stocks driving shoppers online?

    In the out-of-stock problem, retailers are facing the fruits of their own labor. For years, retailers have attempted to improve profitability by reducing inventory and decreasing staffing. What happens as a consequence of those two strategies is that consumers are faced more and more often with empty space in place of the product they would like to purchase. As a result they go online.No one should be surprised about this. The value of lost revenue from out of stocks can be dramatic; one of our clients discovered a multimillion dollar opportunity from poor stocking of just one product at one major retailer.In order to successfully combat the surge of online products, retailers will be forced to increase their investment in both hard and soft assets. There is no other way around it.

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