PROFILE

Ricardo Belmar

Sr Director, Worldwide Enterprise Product Marketing, InfoVista
As large enterprises in the manufacturing, retail, logistics, banking/finance and related industries embrace and accelerate digital transformations via unified communications, collaborative, mobile and cloud-based applications, the need to deliver the best user experience to all users, customers, applications, and devices is ever increasing. Ricardo helps these organizations find business value from technology investments by optimizing their enterprise network and applications to drive user experience and omni-channel customer experiences.

Ricardo is the Senior Director for Worldwide Enterprise Product Marketing at InfoVista. In this role, Ricardo develops market positioning and strategy for InfoVista’s enterprise solutions globally, leveraging his more than 20 years of IT industry experience.

Ricardo actively engages with industry influencers in retail, consumer goods, banking, payments, and restaurant industries on technology trends via Twitter and LinkedIn. He was named Social Media Mayor at the 2015 Retail Executive Summit, the 2015 ENGAGE Summit and 2016 RetailTech Conference by RIS News. He has conducted video interviews of senior executives from retail, banking, and restaurant brands as well as many industry analysts and is frequently interviewed by retail industry publications. Ricardo is also a supporter of the RetailROI charity organization.

For more information, visit: www.infovista.com
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  • Posted on: 11/17/2017

    Is private label grocery about to go to the next level?

    Absolutely, private label brands will expand! Better to call them retailer brands I think as that is what they represent.Wegmans, for example, is extremely adept at this. Shoppers seek out any new Wegmans branded item in their stores as they've established their brand to represent more than just value, but quality as well. Plus, the big brands in food actually have their brand reputation working against them in the minds of many younger consumers (e.g. millennials and Gen Z) because they represent everything that was wrong about the food we eat — not healthy, full of preservatives, grown with chemicals and other perceived nasty by-products and bio engineering, etc.Private label brands are seen by these shoppers as representing fresh, healthy products and that is fueling their growth. It's much more than Amazon/Whole Foods, although that may make this entire category more mainstream for some shoppers as Amazon presents those positive brand qualities for many of their loyal customers.
  • Posted on: 11/17/2017

    Indie retailers can survive – even thrive – during the holidays

    My recommendations would be slightly different (although all the ones mentioned are good, except maybe QR codes!):Be unique and be relevant! An independent store may not be able to win on price, but absolutely has to win on great service and that's an enviable experience to differentiate. That keeps customers loyal and coming back to the store. You need knowledgeable associates to accomplish that. Then, find the unique products consumers in your community want that they'll be interested in coming to the store to shop rather than search on Amazon.
  • Posted on: 11/17/2017

    The RetailWire Christmas Commercial Challenge Global Edition – M&S vs. Sainsbury’s

    The goal of every advertisement spot is to establish an emotional connection between the viewer and the brand. M&S does exactly that with a brilliant use of Paddington in an amusing yet still emotional adventure with "Mr Claus". A wonderful ad that I'm sure will resonate positively with their audience for the holiday season.Sainsbury's tried to take a much more fun approach for the holidays by highlighting all those fun and often wacky things families do when they come together for the holidays. While it does give them an opportunity to showcase products you can buy, it seems a bit forced to me. I feel the most successful holiday advertisements are the ones that don't focus on products but just put the brand in a positive light.The winner for me is M&S.
  • Posted on: 11/16/2017

    Tech lets gift receivers decide what they get for Christmas

    There are many practical benefits to this concept in terms of making gift giving more efficient and reducing returns for the retailer, but it does miss the emotional sensation of receiving the boxed gift and unwrapping it with surprise. For some people and some occasions, that is as important as the gift itself. Tools like GiftNow trade one aspect of personalization in the gift giving process for another. In some instances that helps and in others it may take away from the experience. There is definitely a place for this and I expect it to bring success to the retailers adopting it this season — especially those sending gifts from far away that never had an intention of being given in person.
  • Posted on: 11/16/2017

    Will breakfast at Tiffany’s attract Millennials in search of ‘Instagrammable’ experiences?

    Every brand must evolve its image to attract younger generations and Tiffany is not immune to this. The trend of transforming retail spaces into experiences is clearly reflected here and is part of a broader re-imaging of Tiffany. It's not clear to me the target millennial and Gen Z customer of the future have enough historical reference to the movie to make that connection with the cafe, but the point is that isn't necessary at all for this to be successful.However, experiences alone won't lead to sales if the products aren't as fresh to the target audience. Not sure that's been addressed here and the risk is that the care will just resonate with loyal customers and tourists alone. It's a great effort and we should see more of this from Tiffany and other luxury brands trying to connect with an audience that doesn't have the same respect for luxury that prior generations did.
  • Posted on: 11/16/2017

    Amazon Go still plans to transform convenience in retail stores

    The success or failure of Amazon Go will depend on how effective their sensing technology protect against shrink. It has to be flawless or merchandise will walk out of the store and take margin with it! The extra time Amazon took to perfect this gives a sense that they've achieved a particular performance metric they needed to trust that the technology won't break under high traffic numbers in the store. If all that works, then Amazon may have a big winner with this concept. I expect more Amazon Go stores to be rolled out before we see this adapted to Whole Foods -- let the smaller footprint stores prove out the concept and technology. Once you put it in a Whole Foods, the scale question becomes much greater!
  • Posted on: 11/13/2017

    Retailers need supply chain urgency – now

    Retailers are often distracted by anything they perceive to have a customer facing "shine" or "polish" to it. Optimizing and elevating their supply chains nets about the same consideration as upgrading the store data network -- it's just too"unsexy"!Steve does a great job highlighting the need for retailers to think differently about their supply chain -- not just as an internal benefit but as part of a customer-centric strategy. Two of the top brands in the minds of customers are Amazon and Apple - and both could be defined by their supply chains! That says a lot about why retailers should focus on this now.
  • Posted on: 11/13/2017

    Are data sharing concerns still holding back true personalization?

    Perhaps retailers should be asking themselves what data would their customers willingly share with friends vs strangers. Somewhere in the middle lies the answer for personalization. Most consumers wouldn't share personal information about political preferences, family contact info, or social issues with anyone other than their closest friends or family. So why would a retailer think they would rank in the same category with their shopper? That said, it's pretty clear the majority of consumers now expect some level of personalization when shopping -- certainly something based on knowledge of past purchases with the retailer as a baseline.
  • Posted on: 11/13/2017

    Lowe’s and Macy’s join rivals chasing smart home opportunity

    The smart home category is here to stay and we're seeing more and more retailers trying to capitalize on the trend. For some, like Lowe's, it's a natural extension of what makes their store work on many levels. One, the products themselves aren't far off from other product categories they sell. Second, people shopping at a home improvement store are used to being able to ask for advice and how-to instruction on products. As long as most smart home products remain hard to use (or at least perceived that way) by consumers, this will be a differentiator for those stores. In the past, most store displays around complex technology products leave a lot to be desired and are partly to blame for why consumers want to research such products before going to a store. Associate training is key!Then there are stores like Macy's and other department stores. Back in the day when the department store carried every category, this would make sense. Today, Macy's is essentially an apparel brand and they look like they're just being tactical to see if they can latch onto a trend. Not too far off from Kohl's teaming with Amazon. It's a stretch to see if it works outside of a flagship store. When you factor in the use of store in a store concepts to accomplish this versus natively supporting it with your own displays and associates -- it doesn't add up to a recipe for success.
  • Posted on: 11/10/2017

    Are these the best or worst of times for consumer brands?

    From the perspective of opportunity, it has never been better. From the perspective of risk and challenge, it's never been worse! So, while the rewards are tremendous for those who "get it right," the challenge is overwhelming for many. Brands have a fantastic opportunity to build loyalty directly with consumers today but they'll have to work pretty hard to achieve it! Why? Because competition for loyalty has never been tougher -- it's just much easier for any startup to get into the game and quickly build brand loyalty as a disruptor via social media or word of mouth. Big brands used to just need to place ads on TV during the right shows to build their brand loyalty. Now, that model is over -- it takes multiple channels and multiple actions to generate engagement, plus it's now a 2-way street, not just from brand to consumer. Brands that don't recognize that will find themselves feeling this is the worst of times.
  • Posted on: 11/10/2017

    Omnichannel is just a term to describe everyday shopping

    The debate over "omnichannel" as a term is a never ending one -- we have to call it something, and it isn't fair to say "it's just retail" because the fact is most retailers are just not able to deliver on that promise. Omnichannel is clearly where retailers need to be if they are to serve their customers anywhere and anytime they want to shop.At the end of the day this really boils down to convenience, whether it's BOPIS, ship from store, curbside pickup, home delivery, etc., it's all about making the experience as easy and frictionless as possible for the shopper.It's become pretty obvious by now that newer retail brands have an easier time adapting. Why? They have fewer legacy systems and processes to deal with and can more quickly implement new digital platforms.Size is also a factor. Unless you're Walmart's size, you'll wish you were smaller with fewer stores to quickly roll out those new omnichannel experiences. Most retailers fall in the middle ground of being not quite large enough to have the scale needed to overcome tech deployment challenges and being just big enough that it is a real challenge in the first place. Look at Walmart and Rebecca Minkoff for the two extremes!The upside is definitely there as more and more shoppers simply come to expect this approach from retailers. Not having capabilities like ship from store, buy online and return to store, etc. will cause more shoppers to walk away from a purchase and buy elsewhere. Millennials have shown us this is the way of the future and retailers have no choice but to get there.
  • Posted on: 11/10/2017

    Has Google solved the problem of long lines at grocery checkouts?

    Checkout continues to be a major pain point for shoppers. From Google's perspective I'm sure this feature made sense given their usual data-driven approach. Google maps already shows you time plots of the busiest times of day for most business locations. This is just an extension of that for grocery stores. I see this providing limited value, however, most people plan their visit to the grocery store based on many time of day factors. If Google told you the checkout lines would be longer than usual at that time, your choices become a) go to another grocery store -- this choice is limited based on your location as you may or may not have nearby access to another alternative, and b) decide to wait and go at a different time. Shoppers will choose based on their situation, but some shoppers have a brand/product preference and simply won't go to another store, therefore they'll just wait. In that scenario, what's the benefit to the grocer?I think the real answer to this challenge lies in the technology grocers need to make checkout go away completely as a separate process. Until that's ready, the focus should be on proper staffing. I'm with everyone else who has commented that when you see a store with 20 checkout lanes, and two cashiers, you're left wondering who did the labor planning when those 2 lines are 6 customers deep!
  • Posted on: 11/09/2017

    Retailers are missing out on food photo ops

    Grocers have been very resistant to change as an industry where I believe independents have moved more quickly to embrace social media in general and food photos in particular. While I don't expect food photos of the produce section of the store to attract traffic, clever grocers are focusing on photos of prepared fresh foods to attract customers to the store. One larger chain I've seen doing this successfully through multiple channel is Wegmans, who often showcases complete meals in photos, and then through links takes you to full recipes with shopping lists for customers to enjoy. Other grocers are missing out on a tremendous opportunity to leverage a trend restaurants have been benefiting from for quite some time!
  • Posted on: 11/09/2017

    Are retailers caught in a content trap?

    Most retailers are used to a very direct cause and effect relationship. The digital world has introduced more indirect cause and effect relationships around influence (social media), product discovery, and a multi-way interaction between consumers, brands, and retailers. The direct promo to sales relationship retailers are so used to, has many more variables to it once we integrate digital into the equation. Content development has an important role to play in digital, once that used to be provided by store associates primarily, and now rely on a combination of in-house generated content and content from brands. In the future, retailers will augment this with AR and VR technologies which should give them a renewed ability to integrate the digital and physical worlds in a more natural way for consumers.One area retailers need to focus more on as they work to build stronger loyalty and build lifetime customer value is to enhance the 2-way dialogue via social and other channels. I expect chatbot technology and other AI tools to help retailers here in the future.
  • Posted on: 11/09/2017

    Will 24/7 curbside service help Nordstrom pick up late Christmas sales?

    I think Nordstrom will see more benefit out of the PR for this 24/7 curbside pickup service than they will in practice. How many people do they expect to show up at these stores at 3:30 am? Enough to cover the costs of staffing for this? I'm not so sure. However, it certainly does speak well of them in delivering yet another customer focused, convenience service. "Convenience" for shoppers has been the hot topic as we move into the holiday shopping season this year and this is a great example of Nordstrom showing other retailers how to be more like Nordstsrom!

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