PROFILE

Ron Margulis

Managing Director, RAM Communications
Ronald Margulis is Managing Director of RAM Communications, a public relations firm based in Cranford, NJ. RAM Communications provides media relations counseling, trade marketing and communications support to clients in the retail, transportation, manufacturing and technology industries. Among the services offered are media relations, information sourcing, speech writing, issue research and analysis, editorial and design analysis, newsletter publishing, presentation and video scripting, marketing brochure and training manual production, focus groups and meeting planning.

With more than 1,000 articles published, Margulis is also an accredited journalist. His writings on the food, retail, tobacco, information technology and transportation industries have appeared in Canadian Business, Chicago Tribune, Cigar Magazine, Computerworld, Convenience Store News, Distribution Channels, Executive Technology, FT.com, Food Arts, Forbes, ID, Sales & Marketing, Shipping Digest, Supermarket News, Washington Times and several other newspapers and magazines. As an editor and reporter, he has interviewed more than 50 CEOs of leading global companies and dozens of government officials including four US Cabinet Secretaries, the Governor of the Bank of England and the Treasurer of Australia.

Margulis has won numerous awards for his writing, has written more than one dozen industry reports/white papers and is contributing editor of three professional reference books. He has been quoted in several leading newspapers and magazines, including The Wall Street Journal, Associated Press, Philadelphia Inquirer and Smart Money, on topics ranging from technology to crisis communications, and has been featured on Bloomberg Radio, Talk Canada, Westwood One and National Public Radio. He has spoken at numerous business and academic conferences, and is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists and the Public Relations Society of America.

Margulis graduated with honors from George Washington University, earned an MBA in economics from New York University and studied journalism at University of London. The son and grandson of supermarket operators, he also completed a management training internship and meat cutter’s apprenticeship at Wakefern Food Corp. (Shop-Rite Supermarkets).

Margulis is married to Patricia Paul, an artist. They live in New Jersey with their daughter Elena. His recreational activities and hobbies include fencing (President, Westfield Fencing Club), hiking, skiing, reading, cooking and map collecting
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  • Posted on: 02/20/2018

    Albertsons and Rite Aid combine to create food, health and wellness giant

    There are several ways to look at this merger in a positive light, including real estate and interesting store format potential, expanded health and wellness opportunities and sheer volume. But there are a few negatives, including geography (it doesn't give Albertsons full nationwide coverage) and e-commerce (neither retailer has a fully-baked offer).
  • Posted on: 02/05/2018

    Which commercial won the Super Bowl?

    Eli strikes the Patriots again and this time he’s not even playing! I enjoyed the NFL ad with Manning and Beckham for its originality. I’m sure I’m going against many of my fellow BrainTrust members with this one, but I found the Amazon ad anti-climactic.
  • Posted on: 01/22/2018

    Amazon Go goes live

    I visited the store with a few clients last month and peeked in to get a glimpse of the merchandising, the technology deployed and any customer engagement. We were impressed by the first two, as all the products we could see were well presented and there was frictionless checkout. On customer engagement, we had a hard time figuring out who worked there -- the people we thought were employees because they seemed to be helping other shoppers turned out to be shoppers themselves (at least they walked out with purchases). The one person who was clearly a store employee was at the exit and looked more like a bouncer than someone a shopper would ask for help from. Even given this potential hiccup, Amazon Go certainly is a game changer and the concept will be expanded in multiple forms.
  • Posted on: 01/19/2018

    Can Wakefern crowdsource away its out-of-stocks?

    It’s hard for me to believe this approach won’t be leapfrogged by more accurate technology that will link the planogram of the shelf with the transaction log data at checkout so the store system can alert management when stock needs to be replenished. I understand this may be a bit harder in fresh areas and with DSD products, but crowdsourcing seems like a stopgap solution to a problem that needs a more systemic approach.
  • Posted on: 01/18/2018

    Walmart CEO: ‘Retail is about change’

    The most striking point I took away from the session with McMillon this week was his statement that the feeling shoppers have after they've left the store, website or app is what determines how quickly they'll be back. He added that Walmart is now focusing on that moment, which seems like a big departure from the retailer’s traditional demand creation approach.
  • Posted on: 01/05/2018

    Will retail be woven into the fabric of the new, walkable suburb?

    Quick answer is yes, most retail channels need to look at formats suited to walkable suburbs. Even car dealerships and other channels that previously required acres of space may find benefit from having at least a showroom in these kinds of communities. For traditional mall-based retailers, you don’t have to look further than the success of towns like Westfield, NJ, which has attracted several of these kinds of companies plus many that are usually found in bigger cities to create a thriving downtown.
  • Posted on: 12/28/2017

    Will other grocers beat Amazon Go to the punch?

    The proper analogy here is with self-checkout, which didn’t give any retailer a true first-mover advantage. One retailer in the market will introduce it, then others will follow. There will be a lot of adjustments as customers either like it or don’t and operations work or don’t. Some retailers will pull the plug on the systems and others will expand them. Just like self-checkout.
  • Posted on: 12/20/2017

    Are shoppable recipes a bigger opportunity than meal kits?

    The key here is shopper analytics. Imagine what a turnoff it would be for a vegan to receive a recipe for chateaubriand or for a carnivore to receive a recipe with tofu and quinoa. Using loyalty card data or even market basket data for recipe information will help engage the shopper. Take that a step further with meal suggestions for special occasions and demographic sectors, and retailers will have a real winner.
  • Posted on: 12/06/2017

    What can retailers do to prevent sexual harassment?

    This really shouldn’t be a question of whether sexual harassment exists more or less in retail as compared to other industries. The question should be whether it exists at all. The answer is yes – it exists in retail and everywhere. Starting from that fact, retailers and everyone else need to understand that social norms do not accept groping, lurid comments, exposing yourself, etc. in the workplace and everywhere else. As for advice, it’s simple -- sexual harassment must not be tolerated anywhere, by anyone.
  • Posted on: 12/04/2017

    Barnes & Noble wants to get smaller, more bookish

    This is simply one more step toward a fire sale to Amazon, which can turn the locations into combo showrooms/Go stores/fulfillment centers. I expect this will happen before the end of the decade.
  • Posted on: 11/28/2017

    Will early out-of-stocks throw off Walmart’s holiday momentum?

    It comes down to customer service in the face of these outages. If Walmart promised to ship the missing item to the customer for free, no problem! If the retailer made them come back to the store with a rain check, problem. If Walmart didn’t offer the shopper any way to get the item at the sales price, big problem. If the shopper had to wait in a long line to get an unsatisfactory response, giant problem!
  • Posted on: 11/09/2017

    Are retailers caught in a content trap?

    The thing inhibiting change in the relationship between retailers and customers, particularly in the grocery channel, is the continued existence of trade promotion dollars. As long as retailers are getting funds to support products the consumer may or may not want, the two-way dialogue will be stifled. There is a great blog on this here.
  • Posted on: 11/03/2017

    Will this be the year REI regrets opting out of Black Friday?

    As a member of REI, I’d advise them to continue not worrying about Black Friday in the stores but step up their e-commerce activities. They don’t customize their outbound communications to match customer interest (either through sales data or survey), which would help engage shopper/members. And the site has amazing content that is updated regularly, but there isn’t any cross merchandising to speak of. I understand they’re trying to be unique in not being too commercial, but I’d wager members would like to know what to consider buying after they’ve read the story about setting up a camp kitchen.
  • Posted on: 10/31/2017

    Corona owner is getting into the legal pot business

    I’ve been visiting Colorado for business at least five times a year since before cannabis was legalized there and can report that the pot industry there is developing in the same trajectory as the craft beer and whiskey businesses. Smaller producers and a limited number of retail outlets at first, but then pretty rapid growth of both. Now that at least some of the dispensaries are accepting credit cards, I expect there to be some consolidation on both the supply and retail side. Further, I can see some sort of channelization of retailers -- co-ops, chains, independents -- going forward.As to the questions at hand, more than half of the states will have legalized recreational use of pot in five years, but I doubt it will be the law of the land until around 2027. And yes, mainstream CPG companies will move aggressively into the production, distribution and marketing of cannabis, led by the tobacco and, as evidenced by this story, the alcohol industries.
  • Posted on: 10/12/2017

    Are store brands a ‘fundamental defining piece’ of the retail experience?

    With all the positives store brands deliver to retailers, there are also several potential negatives. First and foremost of these is the impact on the retailer’s overall brand reputation if (when, really) there is a product recall or related safety issue. With store brands, the hit in these cases is totally on the retailer -- there is no national brand to push it off on. There is also an innovation challenge. Ask yourself, how many store brands are anything other than imitations of national brands? Private label marketers may not see this as their role in retail merchandising, but it has been widely reported that Millennials want new experiences and copies aren’t new.Other potential issues facing private label include merchandising (impact on trade dollars from national brands) and demand forecasting (the worst thing to happen to a store brand is to be out-of-stock).

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