PROFILE

Martin Mehalchin

Partner, Lenati, LLC

Martin Mehalchin leads the Retail & Consumer Customer Experience practice at Lenati, a Seattle-based sales and marketing strategy consulting firm. Martin has spent his career working with executives and managers to help them define their strategies and then translate those strategies into results. He has 15+ years of experience developing strategies and driving innovation for retailers and brands. He is an experienced speaker and seminar leader and he particularly enjoys helping clients understand how to use advanced technologies to drive business growth.

With specialties in Customer Experience and Loyalty, Lenati’s Retail and Consumer practice helps the world’s best-known brands deepen their connection with millions of customers around the globe. Our proprietary research tools enable a deeper understanding of your market and customers.  Taking a holistic view across all channels, we design new ways to align every part of your business around your customer.

Follow him on Twitter @mehalchin

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  • Posted on: 07/22/2016

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

    While I applaud Macy's for their willingness to test and experiment here, the amount of back end integration for apps like this one to support more than a few limited use cases is typically enormous. So they are a long way away from replacing store associates.In a large format setting, a better play would be for AI to help lead the consumer to the right store associate and then help enhance that interaction.
  • Posted on: 07/07/2016

    Is Nordstrom smart to bring Trunk Club’s fulfillment in-house?

    Nordstrom has spent years and invested $100s of millions in building their platform for eCommerce. It only makes sense to get all of their operations on that platform and not continue to incur additional expense for one-off, acquired facilities. Both brands know how to deliver great customer service so this should not be noticed by Trunk Club's customers.
  • Posted on: 06/30/2016

    Retailers stand out on Fortune’s ‘100 Best Workplaces for Millennials’ list

    There are very few industries where you can have the chance to run a $50 - $100 million business before the age of 30. Store managers of big box doors or brand flagships get to do exactly that. For millennials looking for that kind of early responsibility, retail can be a great choice.
  • Posted on: 04/20/2016

    Is it time for Victoria’s Secret to say goodbye to its print catalog?

    Three hundred million copies and 22 annual ships definitely stopped making sense a while ago. I don't think Victoria's should eliminate the catalog entirely, they should convert it to a "mag-a-log" format, use it to tell good stories around the brand and the products and ship maybe four issues a year. If this transition is executed well the catalog will retain it's iconic status and be a useful tool for driving shoppers to e-commerce or the stores.

  • Posted on: 04/15/2016

    Loyalty is tough to build, easy to destroy

    The destructive power of negative experiences is why 80% of the time it makes more sense to focus on building an effortless experience instead of trying to provide "surprise and delight."

    REI is one retailer that even though their stores provide the occasional wow, does a really good job of focusing on the basics and fixing problems. They have made themselves easy to shop across channels and when there is a problem they have a great culture of doing "whatever it takes" until the consumer is satisfied.

  • Posted on: 04/13/2016

    Will Macy’s change marketing direction as CMO departs?

    Anyone promoted from within is likely to be too steeped in the category driven, promotional marketing approach that Macy's and other department stores have long relied on. They need an outside CMO who can work with other functions to drive a CRM/lifecycle approach to marketing in order to revive a struggling business.

  • Posted on: 04/07/2016

    A new business wants to reshape product returns

    While the devil certainly may be in the details for Happy Returns, I think this is an idea with big potential.

    Reverse logistics cost (for the retailer) and hassle (for the consumer) is one of the big remaining factors constraining eCommerce growth and profitability. If Happy Returns, or someone else, builds the efficient platform for consumer returns, it could unlock the next wave of eCommerce growth, particularly in the apparel category. Others are trying to reduce return rates by building online fitting/sizing tools but it's proved super hard to make those work for a broad range of consumers and items. Reducing logistics costs may turn out to be an easier way to solve the problem.

  • Posted on: 04/07/2016

    The ‘shopper journey’ doesn’t mean what you think it does

    Customer Journey Mapping is a valuable technique that is losing some of its value due to misuse and overuse. We recently published an infographic that explains four lenses on customer experience and how to use each one.

    Customer journeys are best used to document and understand how customers are interacting with your brand. You then use that understanding to develop new affordances and individual interactions that, when well executed and orchestrated, can become part of a future shopper-driven journey.

  • Posted on: 04/04/2016

    The role of the store associate in digital transformation

    We always encourage our clients to look at both sides of the coin when starting a design project: What is the consumer experience you are trying to create and what is the role for digital AND how can you use digital (and data) to support store associates in serving the consumer and their delivery of the experience?

  • Posted on: 04/01/2016

    Have omnichannel initiatives taken attention away from stores?

    The headline misses the point as it shouldn't be an either-or question. The whole point behind omnichannel before it became an overused buzzword was to invest in initiatives that spanned both digital and stores. Retailers who get this are bringing technology to the store experience as well as building up online and arming associates with data and tools to help them better serve customers.

    Finish Line has execution and vendor relationship problems that should not be blamed on omnichannel.

  • Posted on: 03/22/2016

    Location remains retail’s MVP

    Yes, location definitely matters and it's only growing as these MVP type malls flourish at the expense of everyone else. Another "winner take all" pattern in our society and economy.

    I will caution that the Credit Suisse study may be confusing correlation with causation. Apple is such an outlier in terms of retail metrics and the presence of an Apple Store in these malls skews their sales per square foot much higher than the mean. Which came first, the chicken or the egg?

  • Posted on: 03/15/2016

    Costco is quietly getting rid of its smokes

    Costco has a somewhat well deserved reputation as a "conscious" company, so I am surprised that they would be stealthy about eliminating tobacco as opposed to up front about it like CVS.

  • Posted on: 03/15/2016

    True Religion turns to Apple Watch to improve customers’ experiences

    I love that they are focusing this initiative on enabling their store associates to deliver elevated service and I like the multi-screen approach with the monitor presumably controlled from the watch. If consumers have to download an app to make this work, that could be an Achilles heel leading to low adoption. They should build experiences that work for 3 tiers of consumers: walk ins, those with a True Religion username (from eCommerce), and those with the app. Those consumers with the deeper connection to the brand could have the richest experience, but they shouldn't throw up barriers to engagement for the casual customer.

  • Posted on: 03/03/2016

    Are yesterday’s department stores ready to make a comeback?

    Is this an Onion story?

  • Posted on: 02/18/2016

    Wine stores face threat from direct-to-consumer channel

    Commenting late, but today is #nationaldrinkwineday so what the heck.

    Judging from the volume of comments on this one, a lot of panelists must be wine aficionados like me. These days I buy almost all of my wine from a couple of email based retailers, Garagiste and Full Pull. Why? Like Nikki Baird said it's all about curation and storytelling. These retailers offer a handpicked assortment and they tell me the story behind each wine. Compare that to the typical wine store that is just racks of bottles.

    Wine stores have so much opportunity to up their game in response to changing consumption patterns and delivery models. Use visual merchandising strategies to demystify wine: provide rich, engaging information like food pairing suggestions, the winemakers approach etc. Build a community around your store through events and social media. A really bold approach would be to partner with wineries and become a pickup point for their wine clubs: the wineries would see lower shipping costs and the retailer would benefit from additional traffic and impulse, add-on purchases.

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