Al McClain

CEO, Co-Founder, RetailWire

Al McClain is CEO and co-founder of, 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 positions with Reily Foods, Bestfoods, Red Rose Tea, and Progressive Grocer (Trade Dimensions and Retail Insights divisions). He also co-founded in 1997, a precursor to

Al has worked with many major tech companies and spoken at Shoptalk, the National Grocers Association convention, IIR’s Shopper Insights conference, the Magazine Publishers Association conference, the d2 Digital Dialogue conference, the Category Management Association conference, and Future Stores Miami. He has written for publications such as Nielsen Wire, Loyalty Management,, and He lives in South Florida.

  • Posted on: 11/09/2018

    Why are Wall Street analysts so irked over Apple’s reporting changes?

    While there is no mystery here, in that large retailers and brands try to present themselves in the most favorable light, it should give investors and consumers pause. When companies aren't transparent about their financials, what else aren't they transparent about?
  • Posted on: 11/08/2018

    Will Walmart’s bring your own device policy work for it and its associates?

    Yes, it potentially makes communications with store associates easier for Walmart. But, the quote from the store associate seems scripted from corporate, and I think we'd hear how much the phone bill discount was if they were proud of it. In this new gig economy, where the individual bears more and more responsibility for everything, I guess it is unsurprising, but large corporations should provide what their employees need in the way of communications tools. If they are not going to do that, they should discount the phone bill AND the phone purchase heavily.
  • Posted on: 11/06/2018

    Why aren’t women buying Amazon’s private label clothing?

    The case has been well made for Amazon's lack of success in private label apparel, so far. And, there are other categories where they have not succeeded, so far. But, "so far" is not forever, and it strikes me that they are testing and learning. Eventually, they will address manufacturing and quality issues, as well as marketing. And, don't be surprised if they acquire an apparel retailer (at a discount), that provides locations where shoppers can try Amazon apparel in-store before they buy.
  • Posted on: 09/28/2018

    What would the nation’s strictest plastic ban mean for New Jersey’s retailers?

    In terms of whether NJ has a litter problem, I was appalled at how bad it was every time I drove there when we lived in the Northeast. The problem was demonstrably worse than in CT where we lived, or in NY, alongside the major roads. That said, this is a good start. In addition, state and local governments need to DO THEIR JOBS and pick up trash from the sides of their roads. In many cases, states and localities have outsourced this to volunteer groups, and some of those programs work and some don't. Here in Palm Beach County, FL, volunteers pick up an average of 50,000 pounds of trash per year in the 17 natural areas. That is just in one small part of one county! We need to do more collectively, and soon.
  • Posted on: 09/26/2018

    What’s Dunkin’ without Donuts in its name?

    Seems to me it revitalizes the brand a bit and puts them in a better place to compete with Starbucks. Their new cups also look a bit hipper to me. The risky part is getting rid of donuts, even if they aren't really getting rid of them. Another coffee and donut chain (Tim Horton's?) might sneak in there and grab some of the donut business. And, donuts might not be "in" right now, but they could make a comeback. Anyone remember what happened to bacon?
  • Posted on: 09/21/2018

    Will the EU’s anticompetitive investigation follow Amazon back to the U.S.?

    Something has got to give eventually with Amazon. There seems to be literally no business at this point that they don't want to get their tentacles into. (Christmas trees, anyone?) I like the service and convenience of Amazon, but I think it is coming at a great cost to competition. With Trump, Bernie Sanders, and the EU against them (for different reasons), they may be facing some stronger headwinds.
  • Posted on: 09/06/2018

    ‘Cosby Show’ star’s experience shows work is different at Trader Joe’s

    Unfortunately, this situation also shows the value, or lack thereof, that many place on retail workers. Store-level employees work long hours, irregular shifts, do hard manual labor, and are expected to wait happily on every customer, regardless of the customer's conduct. For that, they are often paid bottom-tier wages. Top execs at retail companies would be well served to pay living wages, and take care of their employees in other ways such as offering better health care, better 401K plans, etc. and let their customers know how hard their employees actually work.
  • Posted on: 08/24/2018

    Will Kroger’s ban mean the end of plastic bags in grocery stores?

    Its a start. It's not fast enough for me and many others, but Kroger will no doubt get plenty of complaints. Plastic is such a huge pollution issue, but still gets overlooked by those who don't look in rivers and streams, or even out their car windows along the roadsides, and don't pay attention to their own habits.
  • Posted on: 07/20/2018

    Costco, Sam’s Club and the great Polish hot dog controversy

    With all the real problems in the world, it is amazing that removing the Polish at Costco has this many people worked up. I wish for a day when more people would care about things bigger than this, but that's my personal problem. Sam's scored a minor PR advantage, but I can't imagine more than 0.00001% of Costco members would actually cancel their memberships over this and/or switch to Sam's. Meanwhile, it sure shows the power of social media to make much ado about "nothing".
  • Posted on: 07/18/2018

    Walmart to take another shot at Netflix and Amazon, too

    At this point, I'm starting to wonder if Walmart's top execs are thinking that they need to be in every major business that Amazon is in in order to stay competitive? Maybe that is true, to the extent that they almost want to be everything to their middle and lower income customers. But, as Charles Dimov said, this and many of their other ventures are long-term plays, so I hope they have the fortitude to stick with them long enough and focus enough resources on them that they have a chance to succeed. Meanwhile, I wonder if there will ever be a tipping point for Amazon or Walmart, where they have too many ventures going to be really good at many of them?
  • Posted on: 07/16/2018

    Can Papa John’s recover from its founder’s racial slur?

    This is not going away any time soon. The company is named after him, he has said offensive things prior to this, and the company has not severed ties with him. Even without this crisis, the company had issues with its food quality.
  • Posted on: 07/11/2018

    Kroger shakes up own-brand fashion with one fell swoop

    Right. I am really not thrilled with the name. Hopefully, it won't be on the clothes. Maybe this works for basic items like socks, shirts and tees.
  • Posted on: 07/11/2018

    Is your culture your brand?

    I agree with you, Sky. There is a lot of inauthenticity out there, which manifests itself in phony, unrealistic marketing and glorified social media posts and videos. It seems that the bigger a retailer or brand gets, and especially once it is public or part of a public company, the more likely they are to post corporatized fluff, which has little connection to their origins.
  • Posted on: 07/09/2018

    Are shoppers ready to pay to park at the mall?

    If malls want to attract more shoppers, free parking is table stakes. Better yet, make parking a true convenience and offer free valet parking. Skip the "validate your ticket" idea and stop forcing customers to download various parking apps, making the process even more of a hassle, when folks are apt to decide it is just easier to order what they want by smartphone.
  • Posted on: 06/29/2018

    Kroger to deliver groceries using driverless cars

    I don't think having to walk 20 feet to unload groceries from the vehicle will be an issue for most shoppers. The "rules of the road" for the service will be spelled out, and those who have an issue with it will go elsewhere. But, most consumers have no issue with the pick up part of BOPIS, and this will be easier than that.

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