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: 02/16/2018

    Rule #1 of location analytics in retail – don’t be creepy

    Consumers, led by Millennials and Gen Z, are becoming more and more desensitized to location tracking in general, so long as they perceive a value exchange for this information with a business. This is why retailers are so positive on the concept. However, full disclosure is absolutely critical -- it's just too easy to make a mistake and not only lose credibility with your customer but also lose trust. It's very difficult to regain those trust elements with a consumer. Consumers have plenty of choices and if they perceive a loss of trust, they'll move on to another brand that they do trust.There will always be a bit of a "creepiness" factor in location-based services, but I see consumers in the future will gladly accept this in exchange for value. Value, however, will be more than just a coupon or discount offer. In the near-term retailers will have to tread carefully here or they risk repeating the Nordstrom incident of a few years ago.
  • Posted on: 02/16/2018

    For independent grocers, it’s innovate or die

    The best and most innovative path for grocers is to focus on assortment and convenience for the shopper. That may mean delivery services, but it's not limited to that. Providing health and wellness related features and products in-store, freshly prepared foods that are unique and leverage higher-margin products and offering recipes and ready-to-go shopping lists to customers are just a few examples of what independent grocers could potentially provide better than national or regional chains. Independents typically know their customers better than anyone and that gives them the opportunity tailor both the experience and the merchandise to what their customers want. There is great potential to focus on value over pure price!
  • Posted on: 02/16/2018

    Walmart reimagines in-store shopping for mobile

    Walmart's innovation train keeps on rolling! Retailer mobile apps generally lack something important to every shopper -- value! The value comes from making the in-store shopping experience easier and more productive. Walmart is smart to add more value to their app in a way that makes the visit to the store easy and more convenient. In many ways, the features they are adding take the place of an interaction with a store associate. Why is that helpful? It's like adding a personal store associate in every shopper's pocket! This doesn't mean they can eliminate associates, but it does mean they can focus on harder issues to help customers. Coupled with Walmart Pay and the links to in-store services this is a great move by Walmart to transparently add more technology to the in-store experience while bringing added value to the shopper. I will add that a key implementation facet to this is great store Wi-Fi with plenty of network bandwidth. For other retailers to duplicate this, they'll need to ensure they have the right technology in place to properly prioritize guest access to that bandwidth to keep the experience performing at its best for every customer. While I expect Walmart has solved this, not every retailer thinks about this aspect ahead of implementation!
  • Posted on: 02/15/2018

    Sam’s Club takes on Costco and Amazon with a new strategy

    These are all good moves for Sam's to make, but they do feel a bit defensive rather than innovative moves to differentiate themselves from Costco, Amazon, and Boxed.com. While Costco should start making more digital-centric moves for their part, they really don't need to respond to what Sam's has announced directly. I doubt Amazon will even take notice as they are so customer focused rather than competitor focused.
  • Posted on: 02/15/2018

    Grocers hit restaurants in the gut with hot bars

    There is absolutely an opportunity for prepared food in grocery stores. The key is to provide unique preparations, both finished and partially finished (a la meal kits), that leverage other private line products in the store. Whole Foods and Wegmans do this well in our area. There have been many occasions in my household where we have tried a Wegmans prepared dish, only to seek out and buy some of the private label ingredients in the store the next week to cook ourselves. Wegmans further supplements this with their food magazine offering recipes and other preparation ideas to their customers. The cross-merchandising potential is tremendous.
  • Posted on: 02/15/2018

    Can Circuit City come back from the dead?

    There are bound to be comparisons with Best Buy. They have two main things going for them:1) Successfully recognized what showrooming was doing to them and they adapted accordingly with increased expertise, experiences, and services.2) Last man standing. As each competitive store brand left the market, Best Buy gained customers who ultimately stayed with them because of the experience.For Circuit City, I see a few doubts:1) Brand equity - many people do not remember them fondly and quite the contrary, did not have enjoyable experiences with Circuit City.2) They can't compete on price alone so what is the differentiated value proposition to the consumer?3) Consumers want more than product in this category - service is a major part of the purchase puzzle. What will they offer here?4) What is the merchandise mix? Consumer electronics has grown as a category since they left the market. Will they sell appliances? Or focus on products like TVs, home theater, smart speakers, and other small electronics. Will they sell mobile devices? The assortment will be critical.5) How long will it take them to establish those experiential showrooms to help build the brand?I think it's a very uphill battle to succeed in this space, and we haven't heard anything original enough to feel that they will achieve success!
  • Posted on: 02/15/2018

    Can Circuit City come back from the dead?

    Exactly. Even if the shopping experience (either online or in-store) is truly differentiated, most consumers that remember the brand will not be tempted to try it given their past experience.
  • Posted on: 02/15/2018

    Can Circuit City come back from the dead?

    Completely agree. In fact, Mark, your comment may break the record for most thumbs up by the time the day is done! Circuit City had many problems as a retailer that led to their demise, and unless new management has a completely new approach and only shares the name, it's not likely to succeed. Honestly, the name doesn't even carry fond memories for most people that still remember them so I wouldn't even say there is an inherent brand value at stake either.
  • Posted on: 02/13/2018

    Will Instacart and Shipt give Amazon a run for its money?

    I don't believe any of these contenders have truly solved the last-mile delivery problem for most consumers. In my area, none of the delivery services are operating yet and this is a fairly typical suburban area. The competition will be good for consumers and it will be interesting to see how each of these manages to differentiate. If nothing else, this tells us Amazon doesn't have all the answers -- yet. I wouldn't bet against their deep pockets (or at least their willingness to invest while worrying about revenue and profit later) but while they used to have a clear advantage in shipping and delivery, that advantage has quickly eroded as consumers now expect fast delivery -- all the time from every retailer.The grocery business is behind compared to other segments in my opinion, but given the amount of news coverage given these days dedicated to the segment I would say it is quickly changing as the top competitors all realize the potential business opportunity at stake. For my money, the first service that hits my town is going to do exceptionally well with all the pent-up demand around me!
  • Posted on: 02/13/2018

    Why are customers willing to pay for product samples from Sephora?

    Subscriptions boxes like Sephora's are a part of the retail transformation the industry is going through. They are here to stay as a new marketing tool for retailers that use them wisely. Why? It's all about convenience and discovery! Two elements that are critical to a modern customer experience that shoppers seek out. I don't see this as an indication of the decline of stores at all - in fact, Sephora is smartly using their box to drive traffic to their stores via unique services and experiences as the article explains. They continue to demonstrate to the industry how to best blend multiple channels and techniques into a seamless shopping experience that further enhances loyalty! The only downside here for Sephora is that they are a victim of their own popularity as evidenced by the back ordered subscription boxes. They will need to address this quickly or the approach may backfire on them.
  • Posted on: 02/13/2018

    Macy’s new Muslim clothing line launches to accolades and anger

    This is a smart business decision from Macy's designed to address an underserved market. They are not alone in addressing this market as the article points out. Given the political and cultural ramifications, I wouldn't call it a win-win for Macy's as almost any move in fashion is going to encourage haters to attack you no matter which end of the spectrum you are on. It's part of what makes fashion, fashion! If everyone loved it equally, it wouldn't be fashion, it would just be clothing.It's interesting to note that they are introducing this online vs in-store and that may be indicative of Macy's wanting to try it out first and gauge demand before fully committing. I suspect as others here have noted that the fashions themselves will appeal to more than just Muslim women and that may affect how Macy's judges success of this new line.
  • Posted on: 02/08/2018

    What legacy did IKEA founder Ingvar Kamprad leave to retail?

    Ingvar Kamprad brought to life what retailers today still strive for -- a great in-store experience that makes the shopping visit memorable for the customer providing a true sense of discovery and delight while building solid loyalty to the brand. And to think he did it without digital technology! A model of experiential retail that today's retailers can still learn from.
  • Posted on: 02/08/2018

    Will Office Depot’s BizBox become the go-to place for SMBs?

    I like the concept -- and it seems to set a more distinct direction for Office Depot than they've had in recent years. One challenge I see, however, is location. I'm not convinced existing Office Depot locations are conveniently located to where most of their target customers are. It may make more sense to open new locations for this concept and close other Office Depot stores instead of remodeling existing locations. Focusing on services and things SMBs need that they can't get online (at least not easily) makes sense so long as Office Depot staffs these locations with appropriate expertise. Their current stores don't exactly inspire confidence in this area, however.
  • Posted on: 02/08/2018

    Amazon rolls out Prime Now deliveries from Whole Foods

    Finally, Amazon brings to life what we all expected when the acquisition was announced. Whole Foods product selection made available to Prime members in an ultra-convenient manner with 1 or 2-hour delivery. This should bring Whole Foods new customers (from Prime) as the expectation is that many Whole Foods customers were already Prime members. I expect this to roll out quickly anywhere there is good proximity to a Whole Foods location and Amazon distribution capability. This is something other grocery brands simply can't match easily! It's exciting to see where this takes grocery delivery in general in the US as in Europe, particularly the UK, this model has already taken hold.The key is in the details, however, including the subtle reference to prices for some items may be different on Prime versus in-store at Whole Foods and which products are made available or not via Prime. I also agree with James Tenser's comment about the stock replenishment issue that's been reported at Whole Foods -- will this make it worse, or is this a sign that has been resolved?
  • Posted on: 02/07/2018

    Macy’s launches in-store pop-up concept for brands

    Having seen some of Macy's recent efforts in pop-ups and store-in-a-store at their flagship Herald Square store, I think they are on to something great here. Foot traffic at the Samsung shop and the B8ta shop at Herald Square was tremendous when I visited last month. If Macy's chooses the products wisely in the Market section this should make a noticeable improvement in traffic for the store. The question is will these shoppers buy something else while they are at Macy's. The debate over this point is interesting to me since it's the same as when Kohl's announced their Amazon mini-stores in some Kohl's stores for the exact same purpose. I believe pop-ups are quickly becoming the future of retail and may be one of the saviors for department stores by delivering on the "treasure hunt" thrill shoppers seek out.Assuming the fee is reasonable, and presumably helps Macy's cover costs of associate help and marketing assistance -- plus some reasonable profit amount for Macy's since they aren't taking a portion of the product sales -- we should see many interesting product ideas show up in these Market shops. It will be interesting to see the most popular durations -- will it be a month, 6 months? And how long will Macy's treat this as a test? I expect they'll run the course for the remainder of this calendar year with expectations of expanding next year.This won't solve all of Macy's issues but I love seeing each new "experience" Macy's introduces to the mix. We're starting to see why their management has been so much more positive lately!

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