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: 10/19/2017

    Consumers don’t trust what CEOs are saying

    Lack of faith in corporate leadership is hardly surprising. From VW’s emissions scandal to Tanaka airbags, to Wells Fargo and the Equifax debacle the media is littered with stories of corporate corruption and malfeasance that include CEOs spinning their version of the facts.All businesses, including retailers and consumer brands, need to not only provide a “more authentic narrative,” they need to be more honest and ethical in their behaviors. Giving employees a louder voice is fine to bring a diversity to a message but if the general public simply doesn’t trust a CEO, then the company has a much bigger problem.
  • Posted on: 10/18/2017

    Should the holiday selling season be retired?

    For decades consumers have been conditioned to buy during the holidays, and despite the changing/evolving shopper patterns many still will. De-emphasizing the holiday season is a mistake. But the bigger point is that this is not an either/or proposition. Retailers can deliver an exciting holiday season for the shoppers who are inclined/excited by the season AND also do a better job of promoting throughout the year.
  • Posted on: 10/17/2017

    Rent the Runway sees new program leading to a ‘closetless’ future

    Dropping price will undoubtedly attract more customers, but how many more will be the question -- I’m not convinced it will be a significant increase. While I do agree that Millennials are likely more open to clothe sharing/renting, I don’t think this will become a mega-trend where clothing is a service.
  • Posted on: 10/16/2017

    A mall carves out pop-up space for online brands

    Hats off to Simon for launching the [email protected] concept -- this is the type of innovation other mall operators should consider. Making it easy for online and emerging retailers/brands to test consumer acceptance in major malls is good for the mall operator and the emerging retailer. Simon gets to test new potential tenants and bring new offerings to existing mall visitors and the new brands get physical retail exposure with a low investment and risk in major malls. Win-win.Mall operators should consider offering these new retailers additional support and services from analytics to merchandising in order to nurture their growth.
  • Posted on: 10/16/2017

    Should Coach Inc. have changed its name?

    Re-branding is always a tricky business and especially when you have such a well-known and beloved brand as Coach. The strategic rationale to change the master brand to a new, more inclusive moniker is reasonable, but perhaps management could have launched the brand change in a way that was more subtle and evolving in order to minimize concerns from Coach aficionados.
  • Posted on: 10/13/2017

    Are retailers shortchanging the digital transformation?

    There’s no question that retailers need to focus on their future digital opportunities, and many need to do much more than they are today. However the traditional businesses and physical stores are still very much part of this future. This is not an either/or proposition. Customer experience and service delivery must seamlessly move between online and physical and so investments need to focus on technologies, platforms and services that most effectively deliver that for their customers. I disagree with the argument that retailers are investing too much in their traditional businesses -- physical stores are and will continue to be relevant. As noted, 90 percent of business is still done offline.
  • Posted on: 10/12/2017

    Are store brands a ‘fundamental defining piece’ of the retail experience?

    This a powerful strategy for the retailers who have the capabilities to execute it well. Retailers should aggressively pursue private brands for all the reasons cited by Mr. Gamsey and to help differentiate. A well-executed and truly meaningful private brand strategy can provide a significant competitive advantage for any retailer.
  • Posted on: 10/12/2017

    Is a standalone beauty concept the right plan for Forever 21?

    Struggling retailers like Forever 21 need to find new ways to stay relevant. Given Sephora’s success and the strength of the beauty category in general, it's an understandable move, but it won’t necessarily be a successful one.Notwithstanding the connection to Forever 21, as a standalone concept Riley Rose has no brand awareness. In an already crowed and competitive field it will need to invest heavily to attract customers and steal share. I think it would be a less risky move to trial the concept as a store-within-a-store offering to better understand market acceptance before launching as a standalone concept.
  • Posted on: 10/10/2017

    Is Ace on-brand with The Grommet acquisition?

    I think it’s an interesting move for Ace. Product differentiation is a key way for retailers to compete and, with The Grommet, Ace will have a steady stream of unique products not available elsewhere. Ace could further leverage The Grommet products in-store by forming customer trial labs and reviews of the new, best products and then feature these in broader promotional programs.
  • Posted on: 10/10/2017

    Walmart seeks online edge with 35-second returns

    Easier returns programs can become a source of competitive differentiation and, to that extent, can contribute to sales improvements. Anything that makes it easier and more convenient for customers to buy, including returns processes, is helpful. However, while these programs are helpful, I’m not sure their impact will translate directly into a meaningful sales lift.
  • Posted on: 10/06/2017

    Costco ups its delivery game for online orders

    Delivery is fast becoming part of grocery retailing and even the mighty Costco can ill afford to ignore it even if it offends its "drive traffic to the warehouse" model. Given how frequently mob-scene busy Costco stores can be, there may be more demand for this service than Costco is expecting. If too many customers are interested in delivery, I think it could potentially be slightly negative since Costco relies on in-store impulse purchases to help drive average sale values.
  • Posted on: 10/05/2017

    Have retailers killed off Black Friday?

    While the frenzy around Black Friday is diminishing, there will be shoppers looking for bargains and I would advise retailers to continue to treat it as an important selling opportunity.While there will very likely be a decline in store traffic, this may actually be good for retailers. Here’s why. When stores get so over-run with traffic, conversion rates tank because it’s very difficult to efficiently serve customers -- mayhem is bad for conversion. To make the most of Black Friday, retailers should ensure they have strong inventory levels backed by compelling deals that encourage multiple purchases. Next, staff the stores adequately to facilitate conversion -- have staff focused on processing transactions to enable customers to get in and out quickly and efficiently.
  • Posted on: 10/05/2017

    Can AR trigger TRU’s turnaround?

    I think Toys "R" Us' executives are living in an augmented reality if they believe this initiative will help turn their business around. Toys "R" Us is facing existential risk based on a crushing debt load and financing structure. Their stores are tired, understaffed and, based on media reports, most of their suppliers are wondering if they’ll be paid. AR and in-store entertainment initiatives are mere distractions from the reality of what this once-mega toy retailing brand is facing.
  • Posted on: 10/04/2017

    Has Amazon really saved Whole Foods from its ‘Whole Paycheck’ trap?

    The shopper switching survey shows just how powerful the Amazon low price perception is. Marking down some select items to create proof was a well-played tactic by Amazon. However, perceptions ultimately need to be backed-up by reality. In order to truly win over the new switchers, Amazon/Whole Foods will need to deliver on the promise of lower pricing. Shoppers won’t tolerate price games in the long run.
  • Posted on: 10/03/2017

    Walmart deal shows it’s serious about same-day delivery

    Walmart’s acquisition of Parcel is consistent with its strategy of innovation and evolution of services to meet changing and emerging consumer needs. It’s clear that demand for same-day delivery will continue to grow and so investments in last-mile delivery services like Parcel makes good sense for Walmart.

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