Nikki Baird

Managing Partner, RSR Research

Nikki Baird is Managing Partner of Retail Systems Research. Formerly, Nikki was a principal analyst at Forrester Research, where she covered extended retail industry topics like supply chain, RFID, retail operations, POS, and in-store management.

Most recently, she was director of marketing for StorePerform, a store execution management software provider, now RedPrairie. Prior to that, Nikki was director of product marketing for Viewlocity, a supply chain software provider focusing on adaptive supply chain execution and exception management. Nikki came to Viewlocity from PwC Consulting, now IBM Global Services, where as a senior manager she led IT strategy consulting engagements for retail and CPG clients.

Nikki has an M.B.A. from the University of Texas, Austin, focusing on operations and IT. She also holds a bachelor of arts in political science and Russian, with a minor in physics, from the University of Colorado, Boulder.

  • Posted on: 03/14/2017

    Will adding Spanish give Amazon an edge over rival sites?

    To be honest, I'm surprised to find out they weren't doing this already. They have to have significant translation capabilities given the number of countries they're in anyway. I can see that it might be challenging to manage with marketplace sellers, but in the end, their value proposition is convenience and breadth of assortment. I would think multiple languages would fall in the "convenience" category, especially when those languages cover a significant portion of the population. The easier it is for consumers to understand what they're buying, the easier it is to buy.
  • Posted on: 02/03/2017

    Why do so few shoppers think of BOPIS as a ‘smooth’ process?

    Retailers have to decide: are they going to make the in-store pickup as convenient to the shopper as possible, or are they going to make it "inconvenient" in the hopes that it keeps the shopper in the store longer, spending money on an incremental trip?Some retailers have gone after the former -- putting pickup at the front of the store and staffing it well, with trained employees and a system for managing in-store inventory and recording picks.Some retailers have gone after the latter -- forcing consumers to walk all the way through the store to the back to pickup and all the way back to get out, or they don't have the inventory accuracy to promise what they're promising, or they don't have regular staff available who know how to manage in-store pickup or customer service issues that might arise at pickup.It is about saving money for shoppers, but it's also about convenience. Too many retailers are used to thinking about how to make their stores inconvenient -- to trap consumers inside so they'll spend more. That's why those experiences are losing to online.
  • Posted on: 02/01/2017

    How will online shopping transform the grocery business?

    Personally, I've been waiting for this for a while. Grocers lag pretty much every other sector in retail in terms of embracing online shopping. I think they have been too complacent. Once someone (ahem, Amazon perhaps?) figures out the business model, I think this will go much faster than we've seen in other verticals, if only because consumers ARE already trained in online shopping. There is some pain for the shopper in moving your grocery list online, but once you've done that, it becomes a maintenance exercise. I can see a future where grocery stores are 80 percent fresh, 20 percent shelf-stable and impulse, and a big warehouse section for either home delivery or curb-side pickup. And that's definitely not how grocery stores look today, which means the transition will be painful.
  • Posted on: 01/26/2017

    Do retailers need to work on making more emotional connections?

    What I love about the need for meaning and authenticity is the inherent contradiction implied by a retailer "taking a stand for something" and yet also listening and responding to its customers, who then feel direct ownership over the brand. I think it is this friction that makes achieving an emotional connection with customers so hard -- you can't sit up on high in a vacuum and declare what your brand is, but if you don't own it then consumers won't see you as genuine and they won't buy in themselves.Meaning and authenticity are hard because they are hard to measure, they require a strong culture and they require far more than clocking in and showing up. They require your own emotional commitment from the CEO down to the newest stock clerk in a store or DC. It's the one thing retailers can't fake -- at least, not for very long. Consumers will sniff out fakers in a heartbeat. And it takes constant vigilance to maintain over time.
  • Posted on: 01/05/2017

    Will store closings and layoffs end Macy’s woes?

    I don't think there's any doubt that Macy's was still over-stored, and probably still is after these closures. But I also think they are not nearly aggressive enough in overhauling the store experience to match new shopper behaviors. And I was just flat-out amazed to find a Macy's men's department with four cash registers on December 17th and only one person on staff. Eight people in line. We left without buying anything, simply because we couldn't find anyone who could take our money in less than a 30 minute wait. Omnichannel isn't Macy's only problem.
  • Posted on: 01/04/2017

    Should workers have the right to disconnect?

    It's a two-way street. If companies expect employees to be "always on" then they should also expect that employees are going to conduct life business at work -- and should give employees leeway to make that happen.If companies expect focused attention at work with no room for that run out to the doctor's appointment or texting with your kid, then they should also expect they have no right to intrude when an employee is not working. It's employment, not servitude.But there is no one-size-fits-all answer. It depends on the work, and it depends on the worker. And companies -- and workers -- should have the flexibility to work it out for themselves, as long as one party is not taking advantage of the other.
  • Posted on: 12/20/2016

    Will a higher minimum wage translate to better service levels?

    Last Saturday, on what is expected to be the highest in-store traffic day of the season outside of December 26th, I stood in a line 20-people long at a retailer who had six cash registers and only three of them staffed. And then I went to a department store that had only one of the three registers in the men's department staffed, and a line eight-people long. I actually abandoned my intended purchases at the department store because number two in line ended up in a "Who's on First?" exchange about making a payment on their store-brand credit account that had me about ready to commit physical violence. I stood in that line for 20 minutes, and the beleaguered cashier didn't have anyone to call, and no one came to help him out.So I look at that experience -- where the labor is relatively cheap since a higher minimum wage has not kicked in yet in a lot of states and on a day when you would think retailers would want to capture as many sales as humanly possible -- and yet, retailers were still not staffing at a level that makes any kind of sense, given the day and the season.It makes me ask myself: when labor is even more expensive, will that really incent retailers to use it wisely? Or will they just become even more irrational about labor and cut it back even more? Why bother being open at all, if you're not going to staff? Just shut your doors and let Amazon win ...
  • Posted on: 12/14/2016

    Will Santa’s helpers deliver gifts in time for Christmas?

    Last year everyone was more careful and I fear that has created a false sense of confidence for this holiday. Even with carriers communicating cut-offs for ground vs. two-day vs. overnight, it still seems like there has been a bit of a slowdown on deliveries because capacity is more constrained than expected. But I wonder how all of this marries up with the fact that early indicators are that consumers actually did shop earlier in November this year. At some point the budget will run out and there won't be more to buy -- or deliver.
  • Posted on: 12/12/2016

    Is in-store videoconferencing omnichannel’s logical next step?

    I'm actually bullish on the concept, and I'm personally not a big fan of video. But here's the deal. Chat is awful. Especially when you know it's a bot or worse, someone in a call center in another country cutting and pasting stock responses into the chat window. Video enables a much more personal and human connection, and what better connection to make than one with an associate in your local store?It's not going to work for everything — I can't really see a grocery store thinking this is valuable, nor a grocery shopper wanting to video chat with a store associate about a can of peas. But when I was looking for a drum set for my daughter, for example — that would be a perfect opportunity, especially in the used/resale market. See the product you're most interested in, talk to an expert — and not just a faceless, nameless person, but someone you could go meet in person....And before people write it off as too expensive or too distracting for in-store employees, think about the value of already having a local connection — through online interactions — that could potentially drive not just one trip to the store, but repeat trips through developing a relationship.
  • Posted on: 12/08/2016

    Will e-gifting replace gift cards?

    As someone who knows how to find my family members on Facebook but would have to dig around to find a shipping address, I think it's safe to say that digital gifting is only going to grow.But I think retailers have to pay attention to the personalization aspect of it. RSR evaluates retailers' e-gifting experiences nearly every year, and we find that it's not about convenience so much as it is about making something that feels impersonal and distant actually be very personal and high-touch. Video, pictures, music and the ability to share socially are all important aspects of personalization that e-gift cards provide that are harder for plastic giving. And the idea of making it easy to give something that needs to be customized or configured will definitely help digital gifting gain acceptance.
  • Posted on: 12/07/2016

    Are retail associates ready to deal with abusive customers?

    I think retailers need to be sensitive to the amount of frustration their experience creates in customers. We've come out of decades of cutting labor in stores, of forcing self-service onto customers, of forcing store employees to tell customers, "I'd like to help you but my system won't let me do that." Violence on planes is a good example -- what do you expect to happen when you cram people together into less space than they've ever had, nickel and dime'd them to get there and then tell them things like "The flight is cancelled and we don't have another for four days, sorry." Of COURSE you will get people who are willing to cross the lines of polite society.I think you're seeing the same thing in action in retail, though to a much lesser extent. You made me stand in line at 6 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day in order to get the TV I can afford, and after standing in that line for hours, I got there and you didn't have it? Yeah, it's not going to be pretty. I filled my basket at your store, but now you expect me to stand in a line 20-people long because you only have one lane open? You can tell me all you want about how the three other people who were supposed to show up called in sick and it's not your fault, but guess what? It is -- because you didn't pay people enough to make them willing to come in, or you didn't hire the right people to begin with, or whatever it is.Violence -- even rudeness -- is not an appropriate response to these frustrations. It never is. But I see too many retailers who don't care if the line gets too long -- at least they saved on payroll. Or they don't care that they're advertising something that's out-of-stock and they promise no rain check, or the order that they told you was confirmed actually is out-of-stock and now it's too late for you to do anything about it because it's sold out everywhere. Retailers heap a lot of indignities onto customers and turn a blind eye to -- or then complain about! -- the consequences. They need to own their responsibility for contributing to the environment of frustration that leads to people lashing out. Everyone needs to have more respect and empathy for the people around them and bad customer behavior should not be tolerated -- but you might take a moment and ask yourself, why are they so angry at me?
  • Posted on: 11/28/2016

    Online wins the Black Friday weekend again

    No new factors that I saw. Just the same inevitable trends. Retailers want customers to come to stores because they want the opportunity to sell to them more once they get there. Thus doorbusters and early (or late on Thanksgiving) holiday hours. But consumers have changed their shopping behaviors -- they cherry pick the deals and meanwhile capture other deals on their mobile phones while they're in a competitor's store. Thus traffic is down, online is up and mobile is also up. No mystery there!
  • Posted on: 11/08/2016

    What will Christmas on Sunday mean for last-minute deliveries?

    I don't remember any egregious misses last holiday season on the shipment front, certainly not like in 2014. I would attribute that to better communication between retailers and shippers. Retailers can no longer treat parcel delivery as an infinite capacity resource, but if they can give relatively accurate estimates of what they will need and do it with enough advance notice then everyone can win -- retailers, shippers, and customers. But I agree with Lee -- it's going to be an issue no matter what day of the year the holiday falls on.
  • Posted on: 11/07/2016

    Ode to retail: Death of the traditional mall

    Well, there are two points in the article that especially resonate for me. One, that we can't keep looking at channel sales. Online needs to be combined with stores and success needs to be examined by geography of the customer, not by store location. Two, that mall owners need to adopt the mindset of concert promoters and, relatedly, that malls will be destinations first and commerce will be second.When people say "shopping is not dead" and "the mall is not dead," we need to be really clear about what we're actually saying. Sure the mall is not dead and there will be malls in the future -- new ones, even. But they already don't look like the mall I grew up with and they will evolve even more in the future, pretty much along the lines that Lee talks about here. There are too many people who hear "the mall is not dead" and think they don't need to change. And that, in my opinion, is a fatal error.
  • Posted on: 11/04/2016

    At Amazon Books, only Prime members get the best price

    Other than the fact that they started out offering the same prices to everyone and now have changed the policy, I feel like this is a non-event. Grocery stores offer club pricing to their members and have for years and years. If Amazon wants to operate that way, they are welcome to give it a go.What I don't fully understand, though, is that non-Prime members can still get the low prices online, right? Just not with two-day shipping? So Amazon is putting into place a strategy that it explicitly took advantage of at other brick-and-mortar retailers -- the online price is lower, so why would I buy it in a store? It will be an interesting experiment to see if the price difference is enough to incent people to join Prime if they aren't already members -- is the value of having it right now at the best price worth $99 per year? Or will consumers just add to cart on their phones and go home instead of joining Prime and buying it in the store? I guess Amazon wins either way ...

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