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.
  • Posted on: 06/23/2017

    What will a Nike/Amazon deal mean for the brand and other retailers?

    While late to the party, this is the right move for Nike. Brands need to constantly find channels to reach their consumers, and the reach of Amazon is unrivaled. Where acquiescing to the Amazon machinery might have been considered net negative to a brand's image years ago, that's no longer the case today. Amazon has become an important channel and I expect to see more brands join the party.
  • Posted on: 06/21/2017

    Will Amazon Prime Wardrobe change how Americans shop for clothes?

    The hits just keep coming from Amazon. The value proposition to customers is obvious and compelling; the potential impact on traditional apparel retailers trying to compete with this, very problematic. Existing Amazon apparel customers will not only use this service, but they will buy more as a result. Shoppers who have not purchased apparel on Amazon just might now as a result of this service.
  • Posted on: 06/21/2017

    Why did McDonald’s end its Olympic sponsorship?

    Ultimately every significant financial decision needs to be based on some form of payoff -- if McDonald’s believed that the Olympic investment was paying off (however they measure it), I have no doubt that their sponsorship would have continued. Obviously there is no shortage of other sponsors lining up to take McDonald's place, and so if McDonald's decides that the Olympics does make sense for them in the future, the cost of getting back in the game could be significantly higher. Overall, I don’t think this was a bad move for McDonald's and I suspect that they won’t regret their decision.
  • Posted on: 06/19/2017

    Why are so many associates being deprived of tech by their employers?

    Technology tools are tools of the modern work age. Depriving store personnel of the tools they need to be effective is short-sighted and ultimately hurts the business. While cost will always play a role in slow technology adoption for the retailers who struggle with profitability, claiming that distrust is the key issue for not adopting technology is more troubling. If retailers can trust their employees to serve customers, they should also trust them to use technology to do so. There are plenty of ways to ensure that employees aren't misusing technology; creating an environment of trust and respect is a question of culture -- that’s a leadership issue.
  • Posted on: 06/16/2017

    What happens now that Amazon is acquiring Whole Foods?

    Once again Bezos demonstrates his penchant for big, bold moves and acquiring Whole Foods is certainly that. I think this is an excellent strategic move for Amazon. Clearly Amazon has been making moves in grocery with the launch of Amazon Go and Fresh, but these are mere dabbles compared to the acquisition of Whole Foods -- this is a whole new ballgame. With 430+ Whole Foods stores, Amazon is now firmly in the brick-and-mortar retail business. Welcome to the party Mr. Bezos.
  • Posted on: 06/16/2017

    Did Amazon just patent tech that could end showrooming in its stores?

    I find it ironic that the company synonymous with showrooming has patented technology to prevent it. Preventing shoppers from searching online while in-store may reduce showrooming, but it won’t eliminate it since shoppers can still use their own data plans to search. And while the idea of overly restricting online access could be annoying for shoppers, finding some way to control, guide or curate what shoppers can access when logged onto a retailers’ Wi-Fi could actually reduce some of the loss that results from showrooming.
  • Posted on: 06/14/2017

    Who owns the in-store experience?

    In-store experience is the physical manifestation of the brand and therefore should be defined by the marketing and merchandising teams. However, store operations is responsible for delivering the in-store experience so they need to be fully engaged as part of the process. As Nikki rightly points out, there are lots of opinions about what the in-store experience should be and who owns it or should own it, but there’s often a disconnect with the people who are closest to the customer -- store operations. Ultimately, it needs to be a collaboration among the internal groups, but I believe that store operations needs to play a larger role.
  • Posted on: 06/14/2017

    Can fitness centers save malls?

    Mall operators have space to fill and so they're finding ways to fill it. Fitness centers, health spas and movie theaters can certainly help soak up some of the increasingly available and attractive space. Having tenants like these give people more reasons to visit the mall and so in this regard it’s helpful. That said, traffic intention/motive matters. Changing the tenant mix may give people a reason to visit the mall, but it won’t necessarily create a significant amount of sales opportunities for retailer tenants. Overall, it's a sensible and practical move by mall operators.
  • Posted on: 06/13/2017

    Has Rainbow Shops created a compensation model aligned with omnichannel realities?

    This is a complicated and emotional issue, but I appreciate Rainbow Shop's creativity in tackling it. Associating ZIP codes with stores is not a perfect system, but at least there is an attempt to connect online behavior to their physical stores and create financial incentives for staff to service these customers. Compensation is complicated and it will continue to evolve just as everything in retail continues to evolves. As long as retailers carefully consider and value the role store personnel play in serving customers and delivering a great store experience in determining compensation plans, they'll be on the right track.
  • Posted on: 06/13/2017

    Can retailers escape the scourge of free shipping?

    It will be very difficult if not impossible to put the free shipping genie back in the bottle. Consumers have come to expect free or low-cost shipping and I believe will switch retailers to get it. However, free/low-cost shipping is greatly impacting already fragile profitability for many retailers and is unsustainable in the long-run. Retailers will continue to experiment with all sorts of permutations like in-store pick-up and other incentives to minimize the impact, but I suspect that we’re going to be talking about the challenge of shipping costs for years to come.
  • Posted on: 06/12/2017

    Would Nordstrom be better off private?

    The intense scrutiny publically traded businesses are subjected to every quarter can be a significant burden to any business. With all the tumult and change happening in retailing, I suspect that it will continue to be a bumpy ride for retailers and perhaps department stores in particular. Now seems to be a good time to take Nordstrom private. This will enable management to execute new initiatives and make adjustments and refinements without having to deal with the distraction of Wall Street expectations and/or the impact on their stock caused by other retailers or industry issues.
  • Posted on: 06/09/2017

    Is it time for stores to ditch the free Wi-Fi?

    Low-cost unlimited data plans are greatly diminishing the impact of retailers dropping free Wi-Fi as a shopper incentive. I think the impact would be relatively low now and even lower as time goes on. And as for the benefits of using shopper data/behavior from their free Wi-Fi systems, these too will diminish over time. Ultimately retailers need to analyze Wi-Fi usage rates and monitor the activity level. If usage is diminishing, they might consider discontinuing; if usage is high then clearly they should continue to invest in, support and promote the service.
  • Posted on: 06/08/2017

    What does it take for retailers to thrive amid shifting consumer preferences?

    All points mentioned have merit, but one I think retailers need to really consider is the first point ‘Go Where Others Aren’t’. Differentiation seems to be a lost art. There is so much overlap and “sameness” today, retailers need to find ways to create meaningful differentiation. The other point I think is worth noting is ‘Experience.’ While customer experience has always been an important topic for retailers, it was largely focused on the in-store experience. Today, “experience” encompasses a much broader range of customer interactions which makes it significantly more challenging to manage and effectively deliver. Most neglected? That's easy...'Act Early.'
  • Posted on: 06/06/2017

    Is UNTUCKit the next big thing in apparel retailing?

    UNTUCKit has found a niche and it’s doing well to make the most of it. As long as market demand remains, there’s no obvious reason why they shouldn’t be able to scale this business. I do find it curious, however, to watch pure-play e-tailers make their first forays into brick-and-mortar. They seem to be far more cautious with how many stores they open and where they open them as opposed to traditional brick-and-mortar retailers who have traditionally been much more aggressive/optimistic in opening locations.
  • Posted on: 06/06/2017

    What will happen to J.Crew without Mickey Drexler as CEO?

    I applaud Mr. Drexler for admitting it was time for change and then taking himself out of the game. Apparel seems to be one of the most disrupted categories and consequently one of the most challenging. Changing of the guard is net positive, but James Brett will have his hands very full trying to find a new, sustainable path for J.Crew.

Contact Mark