PROFILE

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.

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  • 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 ...
  • Posted on: 11/01/2016

    Will integrating plus-size clothing boost Meijer’s apparel sales?

    I'm with Anne on this one. I think it's a great move in theory, but I think some of the practical realities may make it more challenging than it seems on the surface. Plus-sizing isn't just "bigger," it's a different fit. And lots of things that look flattering in smaller sizes aren't flattering in larger sizes -- and vice versa. So while it's a nice idea to really serve both shoppers, Meijer should continue to have some styles that are plus-size only, and some that are smaller sizes only. They can probably work that out with effective signage and some visual merchandising choices, but it's not a clean 100 percent fit to just take plus-sizes and shove them behind the smaller ones.
  • Posted on: 10/11/2016

    Should retail prices in-store be the same as online?

    We've seen it in our research again and again. Retailers would love to have different prices online vs. in-store, arguing that the costs of each channel are different. But you shouldn't be looking at your business through the lens of a single channel -- certainly, your customers do not. Your costs are your costs, no matter which channel, and everything should be priced accordingly, not based on the channel the inventory moved through.Even worse, having different prices online vs. in-store breaks trust with your customers -- as a customer, I'm supposed to trust that you are going to take care of me and offer me a fair value. But if I'm standing in a store and looking at your website, and I find the website lower, that just makes me feel like a fool for trusting you when you've obviously decided that store shoppers are more stupid than online shoppers and therefore will pay more. Because whether you mean it that way or not, that's how consumers will perceive it.That said, there is absolutely an opportunity for retailers to offer different *promotions* online vs. store, and that's something consumers understand and seem willing to accept. But you should still be prepared to match prices for the consumers who insist on it.I believe retailers completely underestimate how damaging it is to break trust with their shoppers, and this is one area where retailers can do an enormous amount of damage, fast, if they're not careful.
  • Posted on: 10/04/2016

    Will limiting incentives make Amazon reviews more credible?

    My faith in the reviews process has definitely been shaken by a recent purchase of, of all things, shampoo. I ordered the product after extensive reading of reviews for multiple options before making my choice, and my choice was definitely made based on the fact that the reviews for this product were much more positive than the other options. But when my product arrived, inside the box -- not the shipping box, but the actual product box -- I found an insert that said "review the product and we'll send you a free bottle."That gave me pause. And it shows how, sure, Amazon can tighten controls over incentivized reviews in the official sense. But how could they possibly stop these kinds of end-arounds like an insert in the box? I don't think they can. Community and transparency help, but I don't think it will be enough. Which means there probably is a future where reviews are about as useful as the comments on YouTube videos, which is unfortunate.
  • Posted on: 09/01/2016

    Has American Girl made a wise move into Toys ‘R’ Us?

    As a parent who now has two carefully wrapped and preserved American Girl dolls sitting in her garage waiting for the next generation, I am of two minds about this question. One, I agree -- it's all about the experience. There is an American Girl store at my local mall, and not only is the store itself an experience but several of the restaurants around the store also offer doll-related experiences, like special dining options for families out for a trip to the store and doll-sized seating at special tables in the restaurants.But I've also seen a lot of knock-offs of American Girl dolls, ones that are exactly the same size but just "not exactly" the same quality or level of detail. If you care about the stories and the brand and the detail (and don't care about the money), then no matter where American Girl is sold, the knock-offs will pale by comparison -- most especially by a direct comparison.So if Toys "R" Us is going to sell American Girl-sized dolls no matter what, and American Girl retains at least some control over the experience, then they might as well be in the game.I think ultimately, though, American Girl needs to create a better online experience -- a gaming experience or virtual world experience. They have one, but it's kind of lame. For my daughter, at least, it pales in comparison to, say, Minecraft. Which is why all of our American Girl dolls are now in the garage. American Girl has a good experience, but what if, increasingly, it is the wrong one? Then distribution through Toys "R" Us is neither a benefit nor detraction to the brand. It's just a delay of the inevitable.
  • Posted on: 08/09/2016

    Is a ‘DARK’ cloud looming for brands over GMO labeling?

    I'm not strongly for or against GMO. When there are millions of people starving, and GMO promises to increase yields and resist disease and drought, it's not so easy to be against it. And when risks are being taken in regards to our food supply and decisions are being made without understanding the full implications of those risks, it's not easy to be for it.I think the conclusion that the front line of the battle is going to be grocery store shelves is sound. This bill was passed in the face of a large and growing group of voices that want at least transparency so that they can decide for themselves, and it was pushed through in the manner of politics as it existed before the digital age. If consumers don't like the outcome, they will indeed organize and vote with their pocketbooks -- Whole Foods' position on this in particular seems out of step with its customers. And digital makes it easier than ever to organize and sustain that kind of anger.But look at what's happened in the cereal aisle over the last 10 years, as parents decided they actually DID care about what was in those Cocoa Puffs, and the brands were forced to respond with whole grains, no high fructose corn syrup, fewer dyes, etc. For every brand or retailer who decides to ignore customer voices, there will be ones that differentiate and win by listening, even if it means participating in a paid certification program or coming up with their own scheme.
  • Posted on: 07/11/2016

    Are self-checkouts dooming impulse purchases?

    I thought about going there too. I'm glad you said it. Impulse selling is based on the idea that the longer you're in a store, the more you buy, so why not wait in a line and be tempted by the candy bar? When the real value comes from making consumers' lives easier (by getting them in and out of the store quicker), thus earning lifetime loyalty. Tough news for Coca-Cola and Mars, though.
  • Posted on: 07/11/2016

    Are self-checkouts dooming impulse purchases?

    I don't think it's as complicated as all that. I just think self-checkout pods aren't designed to foster impulse purchases. The shopper mentality is no different if you're standing in line waiting for a full-service lane vs. standing in line for SCO. The problem is the full service lane is designed to guide you in and embrace you in a two-sided assault on the impulse shopping front.SCO pods themselves have little room for impulse items like racks of gum or mints, and most retailers don't have any real line control leading into their SCO lanes. SCO gets used enough, at least around here, that there is almost always a short line -- it's those people standing around in the middle of the aisle holding baskets and looking pained because they know they're blocking the way for everyone else, but there's nowhere else to stand while they wait for a pod to open up.Put the same kind of all-embracing path full of impulse items leading into an SCO checkout, and I have a feeling you'll see the same kind of effect as in full-service lanes.
  • Posted on: 06/13/2016

    Walmart Canada to stop taking Visa at the checkout

    The only thing I can say about this is that if the credit card companies think retailers' anger about some of their practices is just a storm that will blow over, I think this, along side the various lawsuits, is proof these disputes are not just going to fade away -- in the minds of retailers and in the minds of consumers.
  • Posted on: 06/07/2016

    Target designing stores as go-to place for smart home tech

    The reality is that more and more products come with technology either in them or necessary in order to make them work. I'm still not sold on a smart-home -- I'm still scarred from trying out the Kivo (keyless entry system) and standing on my porch waving my phone at the lock which would not let me in my own home. And I'm convinced there will be a news headline someday soon (if not already): "Family forced to send Bitcoins to Russian hackers to turn their refrigerator back on."That said, the tide is inevitable. It may be the early days still, and this version 1.0 from Target may not last or may have to be rebooted at some point, but they're smart to dip their toes in the water. Selling smart tech is not the same as selling, say, peanut butter. You kind of have to put more effort into it. Better to learn that now than when it really counts.
  • Posted on: 06/06/2016

    Will shoppers want to interact with AI ads?

    I watch my kids, 11 and 14, and I think that generation will be much more voice, video and hands-free oriented than any of the rest of us. They barely learned how to write before being given laptops for school. The only papers they turn in are for math. They are truly the YouTube and Siri generation. In fact, they get annoyed with me when I don't use the voice features of our car -- which they, I confess, know how to use better than I do.
  • Posted on: 06/06/2016

    Will shoppers want to interact with AI ads?

    To the extent that customers are willing to interact with ads, I think this will make ads more engaging and perhaps more valuable or useful for consumers. The problem is this doesn't change the fundamental problem of ads, which is that they are an interruption play in a world where consumers increasingly look to avoid such interruptions.What I would rather see IBM do with The Weather Channel assets is actually predict the weather better. Or at least let me interact with the app in a more natural-language way: "I want to go for a hike in an hour. What are the odds I'll get rained on?" THAT would be more interesting to me. If Watson can build enough trust with consumers around the weather, then maybe consumers would be willing to take recommendations too -- "It's going to snow today. How about some soup for dinner?"But making consumers wade through a bunch of ads they haven't asked for -- however smart and chatty those ads might be -- that's a no-go for me. Sure, some people will love them. But it's still an analog way of advertising, no matter how much AI is behind it.

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