PROFILE

Zel Bianco

President, founder and CEO Interactive Edge

Zel Bianco and Interactive Edge have been helping companies, specifically in the Consumer Goods industry, run more efficiently since 1994. Zel’s focus is always on the needs of the client. He strives to be a real business partner to every customer — no matter what the size of the contract or the scope of the implementation. He wants to help companies eliminate the cumbersome and time consuming tasks associated with data management and organization in order to free up users time so that they can do what they were hired to do: generate insights to grow their business. Zel enjoys helping clients bridge the gap between category management and shopper insights. He collaborates with clients in the development of a process that streamlines the flow of qualitative data into customer facing presentations and reports.

As the president, founder and CEO of Interactive Edge, Zel is responsible for setting the company’s strategic vision and developing business alliances. He is also an industry thought leader who has enjoyed presenting at many industry conferences such as the Food Marketing Institute (FMI), National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS), the International Committee of Food Retail Chains (CIES), SAP’s SAPPHIRE and SAP’s TechEd Demo Jam. He has been honored to speak at both DePaul University and Michigan State University, and has donated the Interactive Edge XP3 software for use by students at both of their business schools. Interactive Edge and its customers have won numerous industry awards in areas including Customer Management, Visionary Innovation, and Demand Data Analytics.

Prior to founding Interactive Edge, Zel held senior account management positions in the advertising industry, at Young & Rubicam and other large New York agencies. He worked with many consumer package goods clients and was a part of the account management team that introduced the IBM personal computer.

More information about Zel and his solution for presenting demand data analytics can be found at the Interactive Edge website.

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  • Posted on: 08/16/2017

    Will more promos fix Dick’s Sporting Goods pricing challenge?

    Maybe I'm missing something but I was recently in Dick's and bought a few golf clubs and shoes and I was extremely happy with their prices. I had to have a club re-gripped and again was very happy with the service and the price. Maybe the prices are better in the golf section? In my experience at least, the store was clean and organized and the associates on the floor were pleasant, helpful and knowledgeable. I hope they get over this hump.
  • Posted on: 08/16/2017

    What bad habits do retail solution providers need to break?

    Some solution providers have the attitude that they must have a big ticket deal in order for them to care and provide excellent service and support. Some retailers have been so tied to those solutions, even if they are not producing value due to the huge investment they originally made, that it is difficult for them to admit their mistakes. They continue to throw good money after bad. Short-term projects that are clearly defined and ones in which both the solution provider and retailer agree to the scope and time lines are the ones that tend to be successful. I feel that when you do the right thing for your customer, they will be there for the short-, medium- and long-term. In fact, if you put their success first, they will allow you to pivot when the need is there and even wait for a solution to be developed because they trust you.I have had to battle to get in the door with prospects because of the bad experiences they have had with some solution providers. It makes my job much more challenging. On the other side of the coin, I've had customers who have been with us for over 15 years because it's not about us, it's about them.
  • Posted on: 08/09/2017

    What to do when shop local turns into look local and buy online?

    Shoppers have to realize that once the mom-and-pops are gone, they are gone. For those of you that vacation in the Hamptons, take a look at all the chain stores that have over the years replaced all of the more interesting and local flavor that unique local stores bring to our lives. Now East Hampton looks like Soho with the exact same retailers that we can shop in the city. What's the point? These mom-and-pop stores deserve to be supported and not just to be browsed. We all enjoy good food at so many of the great restaurants that have opened in the area and we are generally happy to pay the crazy prices as we realize they have to make their money in approximately three months. Shouldn't we do the same thing for stores?
  • Posted on: 08/08/2017

    Why is big food turning to pop-up stores to tell brand stories?

    This is a must in the age of "Alexa, order me some yogurt and some more cereal." The role of pop-up stores is for the brand to tell its story so that when ordering from Alexa or when walking down the aisle, the brand pops out on the shelf where there is very little differentiation.A pop-up store allows the brand to shine and promote its best qualities without the competition breathing down its neck. In a world where the shopping will increasingly be done virtually, it is absolutely critical that the brand have a place to be seen, evaluated, tested and gather necessary feedback.
  • Posted on: 08/02/2017

    Are there too many grocery stores?

    Yes, the analyst from Barclays is right -- stop growing or we will all go out of business. Unfortunately that is not the American way as we are all judged on growth from year to year and in some cases quarter to quarter. Given these realities, the industry will need to deal with the massive amount of square footage that will be collecting dust. The industry, or more likely the real estate holders, will need to become very creative in turning these spaces into community colleges, community centers, senior living centers etc., just like malls across America are starting to do.
  • Posted on: 05/31/2017

    Will customers try Kohler showers before they buy?

    I like the idea. We are considering updating a shower in our apartment and would certainly take advantage of this. Once it's installed, it's done. No returns on this baby. Also I think Kohler will do this justice. If you've never been to their showroom in Wisconsin, check it out. It is one of the most elaborate and gorgeous showrooms I've ever seen. It is an experience in itself. I think this and other manufacturers/retailers that allow you have an experience will experience an increase in sales.
  • Posted on: 04/28/2017

    Will Amazon’s Echo Look be a clothes selling machine?

    I think it will be a winner for apparel sales. It may take longer from older consumers who worry more about privacy concerns but the young among us, those young in age and young at heart, will embrace it. Privacy be damned.
  • Posted on: 03/31/2017

    Why is Amazon trying to convince CPG giants to go consumer direct?

    Amazon is giving CPG manufacturers a heads up and they should listen. They ignore this at their own peril. The challenge is, how do vendors implement this in an aggressive way without causing a huge rift with their long-term retail customers? Is this not the primary reason Walmart purchased Jet?This seems like what is playing out in our politics. Constituents from both sides of aisle should put their country before their party for the good of the American people. I'm guessing that if Amazon, retailers and manufacturers put the shopper/consumer first, the rest will work itself out. Plus, as another discussion on RetailWire today points out, shoppers need our industry to get its act together on omnichannel and this is part of it.
  • Posted on: 03/13/2017

    Are retailers ‘blind’ to digital marketing’s flaws?

    Balance is the key in using both in the most effective way. I am seeing marketing activities come full circle to the industry, whether it be among retailers or solution providers. I have also been "blinded by the light" of social media as the default answer when traditional media such as trade publications both in print and online can be a much more effective way to reach decision makers who have the "juice" to make something happen. Yes, use social, but only as one tactic among many.
  • Posted on: 03/06/2017

    Is raising membership fees getting riskier for Costco?

    Get over it folks. As stated by the CFO, the prices certainly make up for the membership fee. I was there yesterday and a 24=pack of Gillette Mach 3 razors was $24.00. You would pay $24.00 for an 8-pack at any drug store, including CVS. Yes, the membership is well worth it. Yes, the timing is never perfect to raise the fee but given that it has not been raised since 2011, they need to do it.
  • Posted on: 02/22/2017

    How long should data consolidation take?

    We find this to be true all too often with the clients we work with, who tend to be mid-size to large CPG companies competing across multiple categories. Typical internal processes for data acquisition, organization, integration and reporting are manual and labor-intensive, so no wonder it’s taking these organizations five days before they get insight deliverables out to the field! Over many years of working with CPGs of all shapes and sizes, we’ve come to understand their pain points in this area intimately ... which is why we’ve continuously developed business user-friendly features into our solutions for everything from data prep and integration of disparate data sources to powerful drilldown and iteration capabilities. All of this has been done with an eye toward the end goal of increasing speed to insight, which drives speed to market, which creates competitive advantage.
  • Posted on: 02/15/2017

    Will having the same buyers for online and stores work for Walmart?

    We talk omnichannel and now we have to walk omnichannel. It's about shopper experience, remember? I am surprised they didn't try to implement this earlier. The concern is, how do suppliers react to this? Not from a logistical standpoint but to the pressure that will be put on them for even lower prices. When is too low, too low?
  • Posted on: 01/19/2017

    Will a movie and gourmet food combo drive crowds to the mall?

    Like I said in yesterday's comments, malls must try to mimic the experience of shopping and socializing that can be had in an urban and perhaps more sophisticated environment. Music, movies, food and cafes will make the experience more appealing to most. If mall operators do not push for more of this, they have themselves to blame as a mall without things to do other than shop will be boring and, God forbid, look and feel like their parents' mall!
  • Posted on: 01/18/2017

    Why does Gen Z like brick-and-mortar stores but not malls?

    What does not make sense is that most of the stores that can be found in malls are the same stores that are found outside of malls. It must be that malls are perceived as dated and no matter how many facelifts are applied to them they are still malls. You would think that the mall is much more practical for Generation Z shoppers because they can go from one store to the other without getting back in the car. Unless you live in an urban area most shopping centers seem to be built the same way wherever you are, Chicago or the New York suburbs or even in Rogers, Arkansas. Perhaps live music and free food would do the trick?
  • Posted on: 01/13/2017

    Will Alexa become the voice of IoT?

    This is way more than an operating system, it is a platform. Just like Apple, Amazon did it right and it will help them maintain their lead. I have not even scratched the surface of what my new Echo is capable of in and of itself, let alone all of the other devices that Amazon has allowed Alexa to be included in. Google and Microsoft will have their share, but I think that first-mover status in this case is a big advantage.

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