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: 12/12/2017

    Will meal kits be a hit on Walmart’s virtual shelves?

    It's very smart for Walmart to enter the space using third parties. There is zero risk for them and only an upside. Walmart can learn the space on the backs of Home Chef and Takeout Kit.This is a tough space. Whether or not it can be profitable is the long-term question. Raising the cost of middle America's food bill is never a good idea. And in order to scale the meal kit business, middle America has to be the target, not the top 10 percent.
  • Posted on: 12/11/2017

    Will last-minute pickup payoff for Walmart?

    In-store pickup for last minute gifts will probably drive some incremental revenue. Is this an Amazon killer? Walmart would need to do a lot more to get the retention Amazon has.Prime members, which at last count were over 50 percent of the adult U.S. population, can get last-minute delivery on the 24th in most markets.If stores were convenient and consumers wanted to drive to the store, park, walk in, pickup, walk out and drive home then e-commerce would not be growing as rapidly as it is.
  • Posted on: 12/07/2017

    Will shoppers pay services to do returns for them?

    The number one reasons startups fail is a lack of a market. The second reason is not having a sustainable economic model. I am a founder of five startups and I mentor startups at a university and business incubators. I look at this as a product with no market and economics that are not scalable.Think about this. If you are going to pay someone to stand in line and execute a return for a customer, how much does that person get paid? Let's assume $15 per hour. It has to take at least an hour with pickup, transport and standing in line to execute the return. Each customer would need to return seven items just to cover the cash outlay.Returns are not that difficult that they require a third party. Especially e-commerce sales. With companies like Amazon, they send you a return label to put on the return and drop it off or leave it for the postman.The pivot for a company like this would be to focus on a niche market of higher-end users and not try to make this a mass market play. Charge more and focus more on a shopping concierge company.If this startup does get funding to scale, the economics do not work unless you have hundreds of users in a small geographic area making hundreds of returns daily. I don't think this makes sense on any level.
  • Posted on: 12/05/2017

    Which off-price retailers will withstand the test of time?

    Even off-price retailers need to provide value other than a cheap price. When the selection becomes stagnant and redundant, they lose consumer interest.The original model of off-price retail was a buying group scouring deals around the world and providing discovery for the shopper. There were different and unique products all of the time. So it made the trip worthwhile.I compare this to the center of a Costco store which changes on a regular basis and the customer is surprised by some of the deals.But today, it is a model of building products for these off-price stores. So the selection becomes the same. For example, the Last Call stores have built-in branded sections for jeans, shirts and shoes. As a customer, that signals that these are not a deal and they will always be there. I have no reason to visit the store because I know what items they have day in and day out. And I know the price. This kills the discovery aspect.TJX, on the other hand, seems to have products that are different each time I go to the store. They are still the true off-price retailer to me as a consumer. There is still room in this segment to grow. If there is a shakeout, TJX will still be standing because they are still focused on discovery for the consumer.
  • Posted on: 12/04/2017

    Barnes & Noble wants to get smaller, more bookish

    Reducing the square footage and focusing on the core product is probably a good move. However, I think that these are defensive moves for the company. This is not going to make the company thrive into the future. There needs to be a re-thinking of the model. What is it that a customer wants in a bookstore today? Who is that customer? What is the model that is going to allow the company to thrive and not re-trench?Barnes & Noble needs to pay attention to consumer behavior and develop a model that addresses those questions. If just reducing the size is the only answer Barnes & Noble can come up with, then this is just a slow slide backward into irrelevancy.
  • Posted on: 12/01/2017

    Target is the early star of Christmas – online

    I have always loved Target's approach to developing modern stylistic controlled brands. This sets them apart and provides a unique reason for shoppers to frequent their stores. Certainly, the Magnolia association is timely.Target has focused on the correct categories with their new brands for the holidays. This should lead to a great holiday selling season.The challenge they face is price competition from larger brands who are deeply discounting to grab sales and customers. Another challenge for all retailers is the Amazon effect during the holidays.
  • Posted on: 11/22/2017

    Amazon launches exclusive with Calvin Klein

    This move sends a clear signal to department stores, that Amazon is far more important to a brand's growth than traditional retail. Fashion brands may want to re-evaluate their Amazon strategy as well and get into the game while fashion is still in its infancy on Amazon.But Calvin Klein is smart. Amazon is where the consumer is shopping today and developing that relationship with Amazon is the right thing to do to stay relevant to the consumer.Brands, in general, are a bigger part of Amazon's growth push. Migrating away from an open marketplace with multiple sellers competing on price, to a more controlled marketplace selling brands is Amazon's future. Hence the development of the improved Brand Registry.Amazon is the department store of the future.
  • Posted on: 11/21/2017

    Do retailers need a new approach to store brand marketing?

    Retailers are not great marketers. So expecting them to develop a brand and get behind that brand is foreign to their core.The reason national brands get better exposure is that there is funding behind it. The merchants have no incentive to market private brands because the more sales coming from private brands, the less funding from national brands. Retailers don't think in terms of net profit or differentiation. They think in terms of gross profit, rebates, discounts and accruals. When they do put private label on sale, it is generally a price focus vs. a quality focus.That said, Costco has done an amazing job turning Kirkland into a national brand. It is even sold on Amazon and other marketplaces online. Target does a good job in specific categories and Nordstrom as well. I am not certain concepts like Brandless will survive. Once they got past the initial hype, the retention does not seem to be there primarily because of quality issues.Private label products and controlled brands have the potential to provide a point of differentiation for many retailers. The strategy and execution need improvement in order to be successful.
  • Posted on: 11/20/2017

    Who will be left standing after the next retail shakeout?

    I don't think a strategy is as simple as these three options. There is always an option for prestige as a brand position and others as well. The Third Wave option is more of a discovery position focused on independent "experts," but that position is highlighted with national chains. I do not agree with the over-simplification of brand positioning into three buckets.That said, department stores need to determine how best to engage with a target customer. The retailers, outside of Amazon and e-commerce, are singularly focused. In my mind, the department store is becoming irrelevant in the shopping experience. I see consumers choosing category "experts" to spend their money with.Amazon is a unique platform and is more than a retailer at this point. They are becoming ingrained in the consumer's life as a content solution, search platform and retailer.Department stores need to find something to stand for in the consumer's mind to survive.
  • Posted on: 11/14/2017

    Walmart’s online prices drive customers to its supercenters

    I am not convinced this makes much sense at all. With Walmart's powerful supply chain and logistics, it would seem that they should be able to be the price leader online as they are in physical stores.In the long run, it will cause more confusion with customers and eliminate those who don't want to go to the stores.
  • Posted on: 11/13/2017

    Retailers need supply chain urgency – now

    In 2017, there is no excuse for even the smallest company not to have total supply chain visibility from the point of manufacture to the point of sale and beyond. This technology has been developed, proven and implemented since the 1980s. The cost of this technology has been reduced to the point that even a mom-and-pop store can afford it.The issue with most retailers today is believing what the data tells them, trusting the data and not bypassing the system. This is what leads to corruption of the data and making bad decisions from bad data.With or without supply chain visibility or upgrades, focusing on a great customer engagement is key to competing today. It is no longer a retailer-centric world. E-commerce has created a customer-centric retail environment. Amazon has created a bond through the Prime ecosystem that is very difficult for others to compete with. Innovation and personalization are necessary today to compete.
  • Posted on: 11/07/2017

    Amazon scales back Fresh deliveries

    Delivering perishables is going to be the last domino to fall in a digital world. Consumers still want to select their own meat, produce and bakery products because everyone has a different preference.But I think Amazon has learned, and knows, a tremendous amount about how consumers shop. I believe this is a "step back and re-organize," not an abandonment.I am sure the Whole Foods acquisition is a part of a revised strategy.
  • Posted on: 11/06/2017

    Amazon undercuts rivals by adding discounts to marketplace seller prices

    Part of my business is managing Amazon selling accounts for our clients. Amazon has put discounts on several items. We have seen growth come from these discounts. Since it has not cost the brands any funds and increased the item sales, we view it as a positive.Although we are not fans of competing on price, Amazon clearly wants to dominate the holiday shopping season. We are seeing 32 percent growth across all categories in the marketplace. I am in favor and think it is a smart move for the consumer.
  • Posted on: 11/03/2017

    Was Amazon scamming or searching for its HQ2 location?

    I believe Amazon had a general idea of the area they wanted to be in, i.e.: East Coast or Midwest. But I don't think they were set on a specific location. Certainly close to Washington DC would make sense since Bezos owns the Washington Post and owns a home there. New York makes sense because fashion is a huge initiative for Amazon.The Mid-Atlantic to Northeast makes the most sense because of the technology corridor from northern Virginia to Boston with access to innovation and talent. But to know what the considerations should be would assume you know Bezos's long-term strategy.There are several areas that could work for what we do know about Amazon. Having cities compete is not a bad thing. It happens all the time with other industries. We just don't hear about it as much because they are not as visible as Amazon.
  • Posted on: 10/31/2017

    Is inventory or staffing the biggest omnichannel challenge for stores?

    Supply chain product flow and inventory visibility should not be an issue for a retailer of any scale today. There are so many great systems to provide this information in real-time and track inventory from store to store, warehouse to warehouse.However the issues raised in this discussion seem to be more about staffing or training of staff. That is the biggest challenge. If the staff does not know what to do with inventory or how to direct inventory, that is a bigger challenge.Technology can solve the problems of taking orders, moving product from place to place and providing in-stock visibility. But technology, even AI, will not take the place of store-level service. That is where most of the retail problems occur today. The person you interact with at the store level represents the retail brand. If the retailer does not train or provide the tools, then all the inventory systems in the world won't service the customer properly.

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