PROFILE

Al McClain

CEO, Co-Founder, RetailWire
Al McClain is CEO and co-founder of RetailWire.com, the expert discussion community for the retailing community. He has spent 30+ years in the retail, tech, and CPG spaces. Al's career highlights include sales and management stints with Luzianne-Blue Plate Foods, Bestfoods, Red Rose Tea, and Progressive Grocer (Trade Dimensions and Retail Insights divisions). He also co-founded IdeaBeat.com in 1997, a precursor to RetailWire.com. Frequent RetailWire clients include Oracle, IBM, SAP, IRI, Emarsys, Intel, iQmetrix, Infutor, Listrak, etc.

Al has spoken extensively at industry events for the National Grocers Association, the Institute for International Research, the Magazine Publishers Association, the d2 Digital Dialogue Conference, the Category Management Association, and Future Stores Miami. He has written for publications such as Nielsen Wire, Loyalty Management, and Forbes.com. He lives in South Florida.
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  • Posted on: 05/02/2018

    J Sainsbury CEO’s singing hits a sour note on social media

    It's an unforced error. Fairly innocent, I think, but it sends the wrong message to customers and employees. He should have realized he is in front of a camera, in an era of social media hype.
  • Posted on: 04/30/2018

    Walgreens tests lower prices, membership savings

    Agree with you on the way the $20 fee sounds, Ben. It is an admission that their prices are too high, but they are not sure what to do about it. Also, many prescription plans force consumers to use either CVS OR Walgreens, taking away trips from the one that is not authorized. And, with the push by many plans to force consumers to get prescriptions by mail, it further reduces trips to the drug store.
  • Posted on: 04/20/2018

    Walmart ditching khakis for jeans in dress code test

    To me, this is an indication that we are at or very close to full employment. Big companies are thinking about raising wages and allowing employees to dress more comfortably, to retain and attract employees. I'm sure other standards will be relaxed if unemployment stays low. As far as the appropriateness of jeans goes, people are dressing far more casually than they were years ago, everywhere they go. 50 years ago, many men wore coats and ties to travel on airplanes. A few weeks ago, the 30ish year old passenger seated next to me on a flight had on pajamas. Anything goes.
  • Posted on: 04/06/2018

    Thrive Market wants to change the world with new organic meat and seafood line

    I know storytelling and narrative are all the rage, but this quote doesn't pass the BS meter: “Thrive sought out cattle raised on lush grass year-round, pigs allowed to forage naturally in pastures, chickens allowed to roam freely, and seafood sourced in a way that’s mindful of our oceans.” It sounds great and I wish it were true, but if it is too good to be true, it usually is. Maybe it will lure in the younger generations who haven't been around the block enough yet.
  • Posted on: 03/28/2018

    Retailers can reduce turnover by treating employees like consumers

    Bingo. Retail employees generally work in small groups and have one or two managers, so in-person communication works better than dashboards or whatever. What's needed is for the chain-of-command to pay attention and reward store-level employees. Unfortunately, many retailers pay lip-service to the value of store associates while paying top execs 100x what associates make, if not more. Pay a living wage, give the occasional raise and bonus, provide work schedules more than a week in advance, allow for flexibility of schedules, talk to employees the way you would customers. It's all basic stuff that isn't done in many cases.
  • Posted on: 03/01/2018

    Dick’s responds to Parkland teens – won’t sell AR-15s anymore

    Note: my PERSONAL opinion only. Congress appears paralyzed (surprise), so good for corporate America taking a stance. This is such a polarizing issue that retailers and brands really have to pick a side, and I think they have generally chosen the right one. It's also a retail issue as we have had many, many "active shooter" scares in malls in recent years, and those frighten the heck out of retail workers, and rightly so.
  • Posted on: 02/27/2018

    Barnes & Noble, once an indie killer, is losing out to mom-and-pops

    But, Vahe, at some point they lost their way and the stores became run down, and they removed many of the comfortable chairs for fear that customers would linger too long. Nowadays, on my rare trips to B & N, I rarely see a place to sit.
  • Posted on: 02/22/2018

    Can mobile apps put an end to disgusting store restrooms?

    If commercial restrooms were generally clean and plentiful, there would be no need for apps like this. Perhaps bad reviews will shame some operators into maintaining and cleaning their restrooms better.
  • Posted on: 02/16/2018

    For independent grocers, it’s innovate or die

    I'd suggest focusing on the perimeter and cutting WAY back on center store items, just having enough to satisfy shoppers needing a few fill in items. There is no way an independent supermarket can match the big boys on price or assortment on center store items, national brands, or commodities. Instead, focus on a large assortment of fresh produce, deli, seafood, and prepared foods. Independents can do a great job on prepared foods and there is also an opportunity to build a presence by carrying more local brands.
  • Posted on: 02/12/2018

    L.L.Bean ends its famous ‘lifetime replacement’ guarantee

    The new policy is still generous and L.L. Bean can certainly afford to lose those who don't like the new policy, and this will help their profitability. Meanwhile, I don't think it has anything to do with social media. It has to do with a general decline of the percentage of people doing what's right.
  • Posted on: 02/02/2018

    Is a Super Bowl ad worth $5 million?

    The Super Bowl remains THE American TV event of the year. But, it has built-in controversy this year. Will some players kneel? How will NBC cover that if it happens? What will Trump Tweet? Will someone get a concussion or other serious injury? I'm sure the ROI is there for a great commercial, but there is risk and opportunity advertising alongside controversy.
  • Posted on: 01/31/2018

    Race and security meet in lawsuit brought against Walmart

    Agreed, Jasmine. Locking up a 48 cent comb seems unusual, and making the customer go pay for it before returning to shop is equally unusual. At least I hope it is unusual.
  • Posted on: 01/31/2018

    Will retailers regret raising worker expectations around corporate tax cuts?

    Politics aside, the retailing industry is not a good path for entry level employees looking for a long career in a healthy industry, and the opportunity to earn a great income. There may be other reasons to join the industry, but the idea of getting wealthy or even doing real well financially shouldn't be one of them. Whether voters will realize the promises made in terms of greater income and better health care aren't coming true is another matter.
  • Posted on: 01/25/2018

    Starbucks and Amazon go cashless in Seattle

    Hi Mark, I think Cathy's point is that there has been an underlying assumption on the part of consumers that businesses would accept what has been called "cash money." It may be legal for businesses to refuse cash, but it does send a signal to the unbanked that their business is not wanted. My guess is the unbanked aren't buying coffee in Starbucks or shopping at Amazon Go anyway, but it does seem to be a bit of an elitist position on the part of these businesses.
  • Posted on: 01/23/2018

    Would Iceland’s equal pay law work in the U.S.?

    One issue with this approach is that employees at one level spend a lot of time angling to get to the next pay level or grade, because of the pay difference, than actually working.

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