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: 12/02/2016

    Is transparency next for grocery private label?

    There were more pizza makers offering gluten-free pies than traditional ones at the Private Label Manufacturers Association Annual Conference last month. There were many more certified organic posters on the exhibit floor than ever before -- just about every other booth it seemed. And even the traditional stalwarts of the store brand industry were featuring non-GMO products.Overall, the more store brands promote their attributes in the same ways as national brands, the more they will be called on by the shopper to be transparent.
  • Posted on: 11/22/2016

    How important is convenience to motivating online holiday shoppers?

    There is still a social element of shopping and for online shoppers that’s limited to sporadic reviews and inadequate shopper helpers. There is a continued strong interest in engaging other people, both shoppers and staff, while shopping. This isn’t a generational thing, as Millennials seem just as apt to want to get out to the stores as Boomers. It’s more about what makes our consumer society move. Price, convenience, service, assortment, engagement and other variables all come into play when someone decides to shop online or at a brick-and-mortar store. The bottom line for retailers is to have an overall offer that captures the continued interest of the targeted customer base.
  • Posted on: 11/18/2016

    Will hundreds of small stores produce big results for Target?

    We see other retailers having success with smaller formats targeting urban areas, notably IKEA and Lowe’s, so Target isn’t trying something new. Also, as e-commerce sites like Amazon start opening brick-and-mortar locations they are likely to focus on these same areas, so this can be seen as a competitive move. The end run seems to be smaller footprints for traditional big boxes going forward and an even smaller footprints for the pickup/shopping facilities of the e-commerce companies.
  • Posted on: 10/21/2016

    Macy’s to RFID tag everything

    Answering the second question first -- RFID is the best tool now available.RFID is an exciting development for retailers and their supplier partners, but the real impact of the technology happens when it’s pushed beyond operations-oriented activities like inventory to customer-facing activities like merchandising and check out. That is what’s happening at Macy's, where the retail clerk will soon be able to ensure they have the right products on the sales floor for the right promotions at the right times. The next step is to have sales clerks armed with mobile units that can tell them what styles/sizes/colors are in stock (or not). Incorporate RFID into the POS system and you’re approaching disruptive technology status.
  • Posted on: 10/18/2016

    Is the craft brand trend healthy for big retailers and manufacturers?

    Points of differentiation in retail continue to be price, assortment and customer service. Craft brands create an assortment point of differentiation. It has been very effective in the beer category and is gaining momentum in many other areas. I even saw several exhibitors at the produce show last weekend in Orlando that were harping their “craft-grown” fresh fruits and vegetables. The trend has legs and retailers need to consider adding lines that bolster their marketing themes, especially for those brands originating nearby.
  • Posted on: 10/12/2016

    Will Amazon give new meaning to convenience stores?

    Amazon definitely learns from its own mistakes and the mistakes of others. It also learns from the successes of others (Prime is based on the Costco membership model). They have the shopping data to determine what will have the most impact for the most consumers in the markets they go after. They have pulled in the merchandising expertise from the industry, with several former brick-and-mortar retail execs now working for them. And, perhaps most importantly, they have people with great imaginations that can pull off engaging shopping concepts. Just like the rest of retail, the keys for success will be pricing, inventory/assortment and service.As a side note, the Cowen stat of Amazon having 1.1 percent of the U.S. grocery market is highly suspect. Maybe, just maybe, Amazon hits that figure if all sales of anything typically sold in a supermarket are included. But they’re not even close in the basic center store and fresh categories.
  • Posted on: 10/06/2016

    Will retailers find gold or coal in their holiday stockings?

    Perhaps like never before, sales for this holiday season will depend on the outcome of the election next month. If Trump is elected, people at the top and bottom on the income scale will be celebrating for very different reasons. The 1 percenters can expect a nice tax break going forward and so may be more inclined to spend a little extra. The lower income group that has supported Trump for the last year may also rejoice with a few extra baubles under the tree. The rest of the population will likely pull back on spending in anticipation of what they perceive as the dour economic consequences of the election. Net-net for a Trump win is no growth in sales for the season and perhaps a slight decrease from last year.If Clinton is elected, there will be more spending by the extended middle of the income spectrum (25 percent to 95 percent) and slightly less from the least well off. The 1 percenters will still spend, but perhaps not as ravenously as they would with the prospect of a tax gain. Net-net for a Clinton win is 2 percent to 3 percent growth in sales for the season.
  • Posted on: 09/30/2016

    Is Walmart arming for a global battle with Amazon?

    Neither Walmart nor Amazon has truly figured out how to do the last mile profitably. That’s where the the battle will ultimately be fought and where the opportunity is. Both are working feverishly on it (i.e., drones at Amazon, potential parcel delivery partnerships at both), but it seems to be a two steps forward, one step back sort of tango with the consumer. This means there may still be an opening for another party to enter the dance, although the financial requirement would be in the tens of billions of dollars if not more. Here in the U.S., I’m still thinking that the U.S. Postal Service could have a much bigger role in all this. After all, they’re at almost every home and office in the country every day.
  • Posted on: 09/06/2016

    Why are retailers struggling to get social media right?

    First off, it’s not just retailers that have had trouble with social media. Telecommunications, travel, hospitality, manufacturing, financial services and other sectors have all had challenges with social media, and many have far worse track records than retail.The keys to a great social media program are audience and content. Retailers need the right content for the right audience and that means pulling data from consumers. They can’t rely on Millennial marketers sitting in New York or Chicago when their shoppers are in the suburbs of Cleveland. This disconnect of marketers and the people they are supposed to be marketing to is one of the principal reasons why the retail social campaigns are not working. It’s also a more pervasive problem the industry needs to deal with -- many marketers just don’t get shoppers’ needs and wants. They’re too caught up in thinking they can create demand for anything anywhere, and they’re overestimating their capabilities.
  • Posted on: 08/22/2016

    Will Amazon drive-up grocery stores disrupt food retailing?

    Bad choice of words with "only," Ryan's right. My bigger point is the need for external incentives to drive progress.
  • Posted on: 08/22/2016

    Will Amazon drive-up grocery stores disrupt food retailing?

    I encourage all grocery retailers to believe this is true and act accordingly. Supermarket operators, especially the best of them, always need a bogeyman to keep them innovating and moving forward. It was Walmart for a long time and now it’s Amazon. Only by constantly looking over their shoulders do retail grocery executives meet the ever-changing demands of their shoppers.
  • Posted on: 08/19/2016

    Is Walmart on a roll?

    As we’ve seen time and time again, it’s the perception of low prices, not necessarily the reality of low prices, that drives shoppers to Walmart. They have been very good at marketing that perception for years, creating a marketplace where most competitors have had a hard time challenging them. The retailers that have been successful competing with Walmart -- Amazon, Aldi and other deep discounters, Publix, H-E-B, etc. -- have done so by relying on sharply different assortment models and/or stressing customer service. Those are the marketing elements that Walmart has traditionally not been as good at. To continue growing, they’ll have to turn that around and this latest bit of financial news suggests they are finally doing just that.
  • Posted on: 08/18/2016

    Have consumers accepted dynamic pricing?

    Let’s face it, consumers only like price changes when they are reduced. So that’s the only way shoppers will accept dynamic pricing -- when they see there are at least as many changes down as there are up. Actually, retailers will probably have to show more reductions to convince them it’s not solely a profit play, even if it is.Dynamic pricing is one of the end runs for pricing, but not the only one. Market forces may very well come up with a hybrid of consumer demand -- auction pricing or some barter-related approach. I imagine Jeff Bezos knows, but he’s not telling anyone.
  • Posted on: 08/02/2016

    Where should retailers concentrate their tech focus?

    Let’s look at this backwards. The biggest recent failures in retailing were by companies that notably invested poorly in technology. A&P had many problems, including inept management and an awful pricing and assortment model, but its lousy investment in technology certainly hastened its demise. They even signed on with one vendor several years ago as a way to get revenue (they’d get a commission for other retailers buying that vendor’s software) instead of fixing a problem or taking advantage of an opportunity.The list goes on -- Borders, RadioShack, Blockbuster, even Circuit City all made really poor tech investment decisions.Now which companies have made the biggest investments in technology over the years? Walmart, Kroger, Costco, H-E-B, Home Depot. And that’s not even getting into the online retailers. There is a clear correlation between investment in technology and a retailer’s success.
  • Posted on: 07/20/2016

    Will consumers buy subscriptions for Tide from P&G?

    Given this morning’s announcement that P&G rival Unilever is buying Dollar Shave Club, it’s clear the CPG companies are working aggressively to expand their channel reach to the consumer. The two companies will continue to duke it out for share of wallet through an increasing number of channels and I expect traditional retailers like supermarkets, drug stores and mass to do everything in their power to keep the shopper coming back to the store.The more interesting question is, who wins in the battle between the CPG companies and Amazon?

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