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: 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.
  • Posted on: 06/20/2018

    IKEA says no to plastic

    For those who think it is an inconvenience, Google "pacific ocean trash" for starters. From first-hand experience, I know we have reached a crisis point in many areas, including Florida, where I live. But, many people live in a state of denial, driving right past what they should be able to see, being careless with their trash disposal, failing to recycle properly, and generally viewing taking care of the environment as an inconvenience they can't be bothered with. Eventually, it will be so up close and personal for them that they will have to face reality. In the meantime, it is left to governments, retailers, and manufacturers to reduce plastic and other pollutants at the source. So far, the efforts have been a drop in the bucket. I hope we will soon see retailers and brands truly step up to the plate and do the right thing. But, when you see a progressive retailer like IKEA planning to be people and planet positive by 2030, I don't think that is fast enough.
  • 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.

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