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: 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.
  • Posted on: 06/08/2016

    Will social and shopping ever go together?

    It appears that consumers use different digital channels for different purposes, and are resistant to combining those purposes in a single channel. Most e-commerce add-ons to Facebook have not proven successful, so it does not surprise me that Twitter has experienced the same thing.Consumers go on Twitter for the sharing of information and insights (as well as a bit of ranting). They are not in the mindset to make a purchase there, and Twitter in and of itself is really not optimized to provide information for purchases anyway.For social channels to succeed and driving e-commerce, they will have to build standalone customer experiences on different platforms, or focus their efforts on driving consumers to make mobile purchases.
  • Posted on: 06/07/2016

    Is monitoring employee data the right move for retailers?

    Wearables can help store associates improve the customer experience and in that case they are clearly worth the cost in technology, software and training. Retailers can also monitor traffic patterns of associates to identify under-served areas of the store. Both of those initiatives would improve the overall store experience for customers and have clear benefits in potential engagement and retention.Wearables monitoring the health of associates crosses the line and opens the retailer to potential lawsuits and invasion of privacy issues. Not recommended.
  • Posted on: 06/06/2016

    BOPIS needs more work

    Given how recently the online purchase pick up in-store option has been made available, the results reported in this article are actually fairly positive. The greatest opportunity stems from a lack of mobile integration. Companies are still building their e-commerce strategy based on the desktop rather than on the mobile device. This is evidenced by the lack of focus on in-store pickup in the online app, which may very well represent the greatest revenue opportunity for retailers in the online universe.All in all, a very good start.
  • Posted on: 06/03/2016

    Getting past retail’s gatekeepers

    I would be thrilled by Carol's vision of the new retail organization if I had run into any retail organizations that resembled it.Rather, retailers I speak to are often still locked in a battle between merchants, who are trying to optimize product margin and marketers who are trying to optimize customer value. In the middle between the two are the e-commerce team and store operations, who are pulled back and forth like they are sitting on a teeter totter.It is clearly harder for solution providers to articulate their value to retail decision-makers because the number of potential solutions and overlapping (often conflicting) claims made in the marketplace. No matter what you say, someone can find a piece of software that claims to do exactly what you do. The environment is crowded, noisy and conflicting, and this environment, combined with intense retail pressures present challenges for all solution providers.
  • Posted on: 06/02/2016

    Amazon Prime’s retention rates are just sick

    Amazon Prime encourages customers to purchase from additional product categories beyond what they originally came for. Customers with a high confidence level in e-commerce (becoming the standard these days) and seeking convenience (also a growing standard) are attracted to add products to their purchases since the shipping is free and Amazon provides a sticky customer experience.In my experience, the added value services are less of a benefit than the broad array of products, competitive pricing, strong customer experience and free shipping.Research has shown that retained customers purchase more often and "deeper in the catalog" than newer customers. What Amazon loses in shipping fees is offset by the incremental purchases. Not only do those incremental purchases provide additional revenue but they also permit Amazon to leverage volume to get better deals from manufacturers, thereby increasing their margin.
  • Posted on: 05/25/2016

    PIRCH’s in-store experience picks up where Home Depot leaves off

    PIRCH has taken customer experience to a new level in appliances, but in a model that is tremendously high cost. The questions are whether this model is sustainable or scalable. The number of Kohler bathtubs you have to sell to pay out such a high cost system can be daunting.Is there a high-touch model that is not so high touch? Lose the barista and all the fancy fixtures, staff the store with knowledgeable store associates and permit customers to "try before they buy" and you probably have most of the meat.
  • Posted on: 05/18/2016

    Is the retail sky falling?

    I am bullish on retail for 2016 and 2017. The biggest gains will be driven by improved mobile commerce and enhanced customer experience in retail stores. Retailers who have no clear position in the market — neither luxury nor discount, will still find themselves squeezed from both directions.

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