PROFILE

Mark Ryski

Founder, CEO & Author, HeadCount Corporation
Mark Ryski is the author of two books on retail analytics, Conversion: The Last Great Retail Metric and When Retail Customers Count – books that are widely considered the definitive reference guides for the retail industry. He is also the Founder and CEO of HeadCount Corporation – the leading authority on retail traffic and conversion analysis. Founded in 1994, today Mark and his dedicated team work with retailers across virtually all categories and sizes from independents to large chains.
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  • Posted on: 01/09/2018

    Kohl’s is on a roll coming off the holidays

    These are truly impressive numbers and management gets full points, but like Macy’s and J.C. Penney, I think the results have more to do with overall market conditions than anything Kohl’s may be doing strategically. Time will tell, but I’m still skeptical that they can keep this up beyond the holiday season.
  • Posted on: 01/08/2018

    Amazon may put Alexa to work pitching brands

    To think that voice-activated virtual assistants will not be used to promote sponsored product is naïve. These are not merely benign devices meant to provide convenience to their owners -- they are a sophisticated marketing channel that will be fully exploited by the companies that provide them and the brands that promote on them.
  • Posted on: 01/05/2018

    J.C. Penney is feeling merry about its Christmas performance

    Lots of retailers had a good holiday season, so it’s difficult to say how much of J.C. Penney’s performance was simply good market conditions. That said, we do need to give management some credit for the results. However, notwithstanding the holiday season, many of the challenges faced by departments stores remain -- tired stores, incoherent product assortments and too many locations. Stealing share from failing competitors likes Sears is a short-term strategy.
  • Posted on: 01/04/2018

    Does online shopping have a cardboard box problem?

    Smaller box sizes and more intelligent shipping to minimize multiple boxes/shipments would go a long way to reducing excess. Reducing the packaging waste is not only a business imperative since the excess impacts profitability, but it’s also an environmental issue that impacts all of society.
  • Posted on: 01/03/2018

    Kroger may have an Ace (Hardware) up its sleeve

    This is an interesting play for both Ace and Kroger that I think could be successful. While I don’t think you would see a significant traffic lift, an Ace presence in Kroger stores would likely have a measurable lift in average sales values.
  • Posted on: 01/02/2018

    Retail and weather go together

    There’s no question that the weather impacts retail business, but exactly how will vary tremendously based on the type of retailer. I think the biggest myth is that retailers can’t plan for the weather. In our experience of tracking store traffic, we see patterns that fairly reliably recur based on weather conditions. Retailers who measure store traffic and understand how traffic changes based on forecasted weather can indeed make adjustments to improve results despite the weather. For example, cold and snowy weather tends to depress store traffic, but in-store conversion rates tend to spike since the shoppers who do venture out are highly motivated to purchase. Knowing this, retailers can focus their staff resources on processing transactions and re-deploy some of their excess staff to merchandising and other tasks. Retailers can’t control the weather but they can control what they do when weather happens.
  • Posted on: 12/28/2017

    What does Bass Pro owe Cabela’s hometown?

    This is never an easy task and it sounds like Bass Pro is managing it well. Let’s face it, when your business gets acquired it can be demoralizing, particularly for long-term employees who have built their careers with the company. Bass Pro appears to be candid and detailed with their plans and frankly that’s the best any employee can hope for under the circumstances.
  • Posted on: 12/27/2017

    What retail apocalypse?

    The U.S. economy, by every measure, has been performing very well over the last year and it’s not all that surprising to see this translate into a great holiday season for retailers. The timing of Christmas didn’t hurt either. I do believe that retailers are better adapting to the impact of online and mobile, in fact, retailers are disrupting themselves. While one good holiday season doesn’t necessarily quiet the death rattle some have predicted for retail, it certainly shows the resilience of the industry.
  • Posted on: 12/27/2017

    How should Apple manage its throttling scandal?

    Apple fans are so ardent, I suspect that Apple will ultimately get a pass over this issue. However, an issue like this can seriously damage a brand and Apple is well advised to be very careful in how it manages this issue. Dealing with the issue openly, honestly and quickly is always best.
  • Posted on: 12/21/2017

    BoxLunch builds a shopping mall presence with built-in charity

    Adding a social/charitable component to a retail business concept is a laudable idea and should be undertaken if it makes sense for the brand. For some consumers, connecting a purchase to a donation really does create a positive sentiment. However, what brands should be cautious of when pursuing this approach is to ensure that the cause they’re tied to remains relevant to their brand and their customer audience in the long-term since there are so many worthy causes.
  • Posted on: 12/20/2017

    7-Eleven goes omnichannel with mobile, BOPIS and delivery

    I’m skeptical that there will be a big market for this, but that’s why testing is important. You don’t know unless you test it. I agree that c-store purchases are largely impulse and/or connected to a fuel purchase since many c-stores are connected to gas stations and, as a result, pre-ordering for pick-up or delivery doesn’t make sense.
  • Posted on: 12/18/2017

    Are smart homes smart enough to foil package thieves?

    Yes and yes, smart cameras/locks/mailboxes help deter theft, but it’s still an e-commerce pain point. Of the systems described, smart cameras appear to be most effective not only as a deterrent, but also as a mechanism for actually catching the perpetrator. Frankly, I enjoy seeing the news coverage of a porch pirate caught red-handed on a surveillance camera. While the issue of theft is annoying and inconvenient, it’s merely part of the online world in which we live.
  • Posted on: 12/15/2017

    Best Buy’s gadget rental relationship didn’t get off the ground

    This looks good on paper, but I’m not convinced that the concept has legs. While recurring and incremental rental revenue has some appeal, rentals also cannibalize outright purchases which is not ideal for retailers like Best Buy. Also, like with game consoles and mobile phones, there is a high desire to own vs. rent. While this concept may be worth testing further despite the Lumoid failure, I’m skeptical that there’s a significant market for this.
  • Posted on: 12/15/2017

    Is real-time processing a must-have for retailers?

    There isn’t a single approach that is best for all, but the importance of taking action on this should not be understated -- this is a nasty hairball that all retailers need to address in a meaningful way. While “rip-and-replace” is the most traumatic and risky, it would probably yield the most complete, fastest approach. That said, there’s nothing wrong with Band-Aiding your way forward assuming that some of the existing systems are reliable.
  • Posted on: 12/14/2017

    San Francisco limits robots on its sidewalks

    It seems inevitable that some form of autonomous delivery will happen, however I doubt that it will occur within the next decade. The balance between public safety and encouraging development is delicate. Public safety should always take priority over development and it’s not hard to image the potential issues autonomous delivery systems on public sidewalks could cause. I suspect that the controversy on drones in all forms will evolve slowly as legislators grapple with the multitude of issues these systems create.

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