PROFILE

Phil Masiello

Founder and CEO, Hound Dog Digital Agency
Expert digital marketer for eCommerce, Mobile Apps and Amazon Marketplace Sellers. Author of Think-Engage-Thrive: Marketing Actions To Skyrocket Your Brand In The Digital Age

Phil Masiello has founded or co-founded several disruptive business models, focusing at the intersection of emerging digital technologies and consumer lifestyles.

Most recently, Phil was the founder and CEO of 800razors.com, an online seller of Made int he USA shaving products for men and women that compare in quality to the national brands at a fraction of the cost and conveniently delivered to your home. Prior to that, Phil co-founded Raw Beauty with former supermodel Carol Alt to market her skin care line Raw Essentials on the television shopping channels, retail and eCommerce. Prior to that, Phil founded The Daily Market Grab and Go Meal Stores, Fabulous Food Stores and several other notable businesses.

Phil is an expert business startup builder in the B2C channel with a primary focus on lifestyle, health, beauty and fashion products. Adept at developing effective digital and social strategies and campaigns to build awareness, brand recognition and top line sales growth.

For more information, visit <b><a href="https://www.hounddogdigital.com/">the Hound Dog Digital website... </a></b>
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  • Posted on: 06/19/2017

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

    I don't see employee distrust as the primary reason. The cost/benefit will also always play a role in the decision. But from my observations, the reasons are twofold.First, most decision makers don't understand the technology and don't believe it will help sell more product. Second, most brick-and-mortar retail executives are out of touch with the consumer and don't focus on improving the store experience.These types of changes and technology adoptions only occur when a crisis hits and the customers begin leaving en masse. It is what we are seeing today. This "retail apocalypse" is nothing more than consumers taking control of where they shop. Where they get the best value and experience.Weak retailers who have not embraced changing consumer shopping paradigms are the ones failing. They have not focused on what their customers really need and want. Strong, innovative omnichannel retailers are surviving and thriving.
  • Posted on: 06/16/2017

    Where’s the art in data-driven marketing?

    Marketing has always been data driven. The only difference is that we can get an overwhelming amount of data faster than ever before. Understanding what the data is telling a marketer and interpreting the data to engage with consumers is absolutely art and not science.A good example is the use of keywords. We accumulate lists of high value keywords for any given business. Reviewing just the specific keywords and the search volumes attached tells a very limited view of the consumers search habit. But carefully reviewing the long tail keywords to determine what problem the consumer is trying to solve by the different ways they use the keywords is the art. This led to the evolution of semantic search vs. keyword search.I don't see a lot of resistance to using data-driven techniques. The resistance is always believing and trusting what the data is telling you.
  • Posted on: 06/16/2017

    What happens now that Amazon is acquiring Whole Foods?

    Amazon wants to be a significant player in the grocery space. They also want to dominate rapid delivery of e-commerce orders for food and other products. They want to apply their technology and customer knowledge to physical store supply chains and streamline the process.In my opinion this is brilliant. Whole Foods will become a better operator with Amazon's technology backbone. Amazon will get a stronghold in physical stores to build their mini-fulfillment center plan and deliver to the consumer faster. And this will further set Amazon apart from Walmart and other competitors because they can move faster.
  • Posted on: 06/14/2017

    Who owns the in-store experience?

    Great discussion point. This is the fundamental issue with many of the struggling brick-and-mortar retailers today. The hierarchy of many of these companies is disjointed and not at all focused on the customer. In reality, no one owns the customer experience. Retail is retailer-centric. The focus is on what is best for the retailer.Operations is centered around expense control; labor, inventory, in-stock positions, etc. All important components but a balance is needed if the customer experience is paramount. Very few operators see labor as an investment in the customer. Many times the customers get in the way of operations' efficiency goals. Merchandising is directed at increasing rebates, discounts and accruals. So the product assortment decisions are made, in many cases, on pure financial goals not on consumer targeting. In many retailers, marketing is treated as nothing more than advertising.If a company were truly consumer-focused, then marketing would be the driver of the business. No other group within the organization is directly responsible for developing customers and revenue channels.
  • Posted on: 06/13/2017

    Can retailers escape the scourge of free shipping?

    I think trying to reduce a consumer expectation or change an expectation never works. You can't change consumers or consumer behavior. That has been the issue with retailers for years. Retailers try to make consumers conform to their method of doing business. E-commerce is consumer-centric so the consumer is in charge.The problem is not free shipping. The problem is how we think about free shipping.It is true that Amazon has set an expectation of free shipping to consumers. Pure-play e-commerce companies view free shipping as part of marketing, whereas retailers view free shipping as an expense. That is short-sighted.Free shipping is not going away. Retailers need to adapt their business model, streamline processes to make them efficient and low-cost, negotiate the best rates they can with USPS, UPS and FedEx and offer free shipping with a minimum purchase. What retailers need to focus on is building the average sale, the customer LTV and retention rates. These will ultimately pay for the costs of free shipping.
  • Posted on: 06/12/2017

    Is Walmart’s innovation leader right that the AR revolution is a sure thing?

    As a marketer, I am intrigued by AR technology. I can see a million benefits in using the technology to enhance the selling experience. I have studied it and have an affiliation with an AR development group. But so far, there is one major obstacle.The consumer.According to a recent study, 53 percent of consumers under 35 don't see the value in AR outside of gaming. There were some other insights such as concerns about motion sickness and the lack of content.The success of AR is going to depend on the quality of the content, the value of the content and the device it is delivered on. I don't believe that wearables/glasses are going to be the answer.In order for the technology to be adopted by a mass market, it needs to be integrated into the apps we use frequently and standardized. All of the people hyping AR are the tech people and the hardware manufacturers, which is great. But in order for it to succeed the consumers need to jump on board. From what I have seen people are chasing what they believe, not where the consumer is heading.
  • Posted on: 06/09/2017

    Is IKEA really going to start selling on Amazon’s Marketplace?

    52 percent of all consumer product searches online occur on Amazon. That number is expected to rise to 60 percent in the next two years. Amazon and eBay account for close to 60 percent of ALL e-commerce sales. Amazon alone is projected to reach 60 percent of all e-commerce sales by 2020. Clearly the consumer is looking on Amazon's marketplace to fill their needs.If you search any category on Amazon, you can see sellers from the independent brand to the niche brand to the major brands selling on Amazon Marketplace. So if IKEA, or any brand for that matter, is not represented on Amazon Marketplace then they are just giving their business to the competition. Because that is where the consumer is looking.But let's also clarify that if you are an FBA or FBM seller you are in control of your brand, marketing and sales. It is no different than listing on an affiliate site. Not everyone on the marketplace is selling to Amazon. Think of Amazon.com as a big lead generation marketplace for brands.
  • Posted on: 06/08/2017

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

    In my mind, the most important concept that retailers miss is the third point of capturing the lifetime value of a customer vs a single transaction.I try to make this point with many of my clients. When you build customers, you don't fear competitors. If you continually focus on your customers, what they need and love, then it doesn't matter who opens a store down the street or sets up a website. You know you have done your job well when the competitors open and you don't lose any sales.You always want to be aware of your competition, but not let them drive your decisions. Wegmans is not affected by another supermarket opening down the street but the opposite is not true. Amazon is not affected by another website starting up, no matter how much hype is around it. Both have loyal customers who trust them because they continue to add value throughout the customers long term.Most retailers do not have customers, they have transactions. I have been in many Monday morning meetings at retailers where the discussion is always around sales, average transaction and projected gross profit. I have never been in one where anyone focused on the number of customers comparable to last year or week.
  • Posted on: 06/05/2017

    Are retailers selling their souls and giving away customers to Amazon?

    That would be a heck of an algorithm to write and maintain. To customize product visibility by where a unit was sold? That is a stretch, I think. Amazon has always been a customer-centric marketplace. As is all e-commerce. The consumer is in control online. And Amazon algorithms show the best product at the best price provided by the seller with the highest rating. There is far more complexity, but that is the foundation of Amazon and e-commerce.Retailers are retailer centric and show what they THINK the customer wants or benefits them. Where the Alexa device is purchased or even who sells it, is irrelevant. Amazon doesn't need to play those kinds of games. The consumer is the one who is speaking.Amazon has built loyalty and trust with the consumer not by boxing out competitors, but by focusing on the customer, providing value and understanding what they want. Target losing customers is Target's fault. Not Amazon's. Staples losing customers is Staples's fault. I will say it again. If these companies spent the last 20 years focused on understanding their customers the way Amazon has, they would have nothing to worry about. But they didn't. It is the very reason why consumers will drive past 5 traditional supermarkets to shop at Wegmans. They understand the customer and solve their problems.
  • Posted on: 06/05/2017

    Are retailers selling their souls and giving away customers to Amazon?

    I agree Ricardo. Selling the device is not the problem for the retailer. The bigger problem is the vulnerability they have created.
  • Posted on: 06/05/2017

    Are retailers selling their souls and giving away customers to Amazon?

    Ken, I like the discussion. However, I disagree. Staples is a retailer who sells other brands. I don't know of a proprietary product that Staples sells that no one else does. So if Staples chooses to sell products on Amazon, which they do, then they put themselves in that competitive position and need to be on the Alexa program or lose out to their competitors. Staples sells commodities on Amazon. Is Staples-branded paper different than anyone else's? They sell masking tape, printer paper and other office supplies along with over 100 other sellers. So they are fighting for the buy box every day. They are vulnerable. What does Target have that you can't find anywhere else? Nothing. That is my point. So in those cases, you are just another seller on Amazon. And you're vulnerable because you don't have any brand loyalty for your printer paper. The lowest price wins and, therefore, they don't have customers. They have transactions.But Brands like Ghost Bed, Stanley B&D, Gillette, etc., that have differentiated items, are thriving using Amazon as another channel of distribution. They have been smart to limit other sellers on the platform so they can hold onto a price and get their brands in front of the 52 percent of consumers who start their product searches on Amazon.I agree that Google Home would not be selling on Amazon. But the comparison you make in the article is not one of brands, but of retailers. My point is that yes, these retailers are vulnerable to losing their customers to Amazon because they have not spent the last 20 years focused on their customers like Amazon has. But brands that are using Amazon as another distribution channel for their products, that understand the platform and limit the competition, are thriving and building a loyal customer base.
  • Posted on: 06/05/2017

    Are retailers selling their souls and giving away customers to Amazon?

    First, lets define two things. Alexa is an interface device and Amazon.com is a selling marketplace.Selling a good manufactured by another company is exactly what Target, Best Buy, Staples and the others mentioned sell all the time. Does Target or Staples not sell HP printers? Have they not built their businesses selling other brands? In fact they have.And herein lies the problem for retailers that has manifested itself. Retailers have not built anything that cannot be taken away by better execution. Because they do not have anything proprietary that sets them apart from another retailer. They all sell the same products as the next guy and it becomes a real estate game of location. If these retailers you mentioned had spent the last 20 years understanding e-commerce and the consumer, they would be in a more powerful position.To the second part of the article: Amazon marketplace sells brands and products by brands. I have been a seller on Amazon for over a decade and I can tell you that if you understand the platform and handle your business correctly, you can build your brand on Amazon. There are many brands on Amazon thriving and creating a solid customer loyalty base. I am certain they are happy to be part of Alexa, I know I am.Amazon has the customers loyalty and trust. Amazon sells other brands. But Amazon does not own, nor can they commandeer, a brand. So I don't agree at all. A great consumer brand has nothing to fear. Weak retailers have a lot to fear.
  • Posted on: 06/02/2017

    Could 3-D tech move apparel manufacturing into stores?

    Consumers want to feel like they are getting extreme value for the money they are spending. Customization is a big part of this. It allows consumers to express their individuality.I don't ever foresee this being the entire offering for a brand. So I don't believe "on-demand" customization will replace the entire supply chain. Some consumers will always want the choice of immediate gratification rather than waiting for a custom order. But on-demand customization will be an essential component to brand and retailer differentiation.
  • Posted on: 06/01/2017

    Should Amazon buy Macy’s?

    Amazon is building physical stores in an effort to reach consumers faster with same-day delivery. Purchasing Macy's would make business sense for Amazon in two specific ways.First, it would provide 720 micro-fulfillment centers to support same-day delivery. Second, it would provide Amazon with a better fashion knowledge base and fashion platform to compete.If this acquisition did happen, it would change the retail business model. Amazon puts customers first and uses data to better understand and service customers. And because of this, they would be much more efficient at managing the extended supply chain and create a highly profitable business unit.I would love to see it happen.
  • Posted on: 05/30/2017

    Will Google change the game by linking clicks to in-store purchases?

    What sets digital marketing apart from all other advertising efforts for e-commerce is that everything can be tracked and measured. Brick-and-mortar retail has a more difficult time. Having the ability to link clicks to in-store purchases will improve the retail brands' tracking of online ad spend and provide a more profitable decision making model.Any insight into the shopper journey would be something that both the brands and the marketers would embrace. This will take the guesswork out of effective ad channels. I am a big fan of better tracking throughout the shopper journey.

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