PROFILE

Bill Hanifin

CEO, Hanifin Loyalty LLC

Bill Hanifin brings over 25 years experience encompassing customer centric marketing, payment systems, and corporate banking to benefit the clients he serves. Bill has concentrated on developing and implementing Customer Strategies designed to address a range of business objectives from account acquisition and sales performance to improved customer retention and increased share of wallet and brand preference.

Bill has worked with companies in the airline, banking, hotel, retail, telecom, and business services sectors providing a range of services including Strategic Marketing Plans, Project Management, Financial Measurement, and Operational Solutions. A partial Client list includes American Express, BBVA Bancomer, Banco BHD, FirstCaribbean Int’l Bank, Grupo Posadas (largest hotel chain in Mexico), JM Associates Federal Credit Union, LaQuinta Inns, Scotiabank, Visa, and VitaCost.com.

Bill is a Founding Member of the Customer Strategy Network, a global network of independent relationship and loyalty marketing practitioners. He authors Loyalty Truth, a blog covering all aspects of Customer Centric marketing, and serves as North American Contributing Editor for The Wise Marketer, a global publication covering the loyalty marketing industry.

Bill is an accomplished speaker and trainer and is a requested presenter at industry trade conferences sponsored by Airline Information, SourceMedia, the Direct Marketing Association, Visa, Loyalty 360, and the Institute for International Research. He has led public and privately organized workshops in the U.S., Canada, Latin America, EU, and Asia Pacific regions.

Bill is a prolific writer on the subjects of Millennial, Loyalty, and Relationship marketing. In addition to his blog Loyalty Truth, his articles and quotes have been published in American Banker, Colloquy, Cards & Payments, Card Technology, Bankstocks.com, DM News, Fox News.net, Smart Money, and MSNBC.com.

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  • Posted on: 08/14/2018

    ‘Less is more’ when competing with Amazon

    Retailers have a unique set of assets to muster in defense of their turf against what some see as a hopeless battle with Amazon, Walmart, Alibaba. The key is to not try to offer everything to everyone, but to focus, specialize, and go deep in areas they know very well. At the recent WPP Global Retail Forum, I heard someone describe the new retail as flourishing at the "crossroads of hospitality, leisure, and shopping. Think about physical stores as "test beds," "idea pads," "meet-ups," "venues," even an oasis of enjoyment in a very busy world, and you might see where retail can prosper. There are smaller e-tailers, Hammer Nutrition is one that comes to mind, that lead with product knowledge. They educate and inform and in the process build confidence in the products they sell. Endurance athletes trust the Hammer brand as result of this process and might even pay a premium for products in recognition of the knowledge shared. I believe the more Amazon expands (especially into new categories), the more likely consumers will seek specialty providers of the products and services that most closely align with their brand identity.
  • Posted on: 07/11/2018

    Is your culture your brand?

    I agree with the general direction of Ms. Lee Yohn's list but find it puzzling that she chose "Use your organizational design and your operational processes to cultivate your cultural priorities" as the leadoff item. What is organizational design? Sounds much too generic and open to interpretation. Operational processes are generally absent human emotion or other elements that contribute to building culture. I notice that "sweat the small stuff" was the top vote-getter in the poll. It was my choice too. The reason this is important is that there must be consistency in what is said at the top of the organization and what actually takes place in daily work life. Leadership from the top sets the tone and it is the behavior of top executives that is carefully observed by employees. The consistency of behavior of our leaders generates more alliance and support of the culture being nurtured.
  • Posted on: 07/10/2018

    Amazon lowballs CVS and Walgreens on OTC med prices

    Amazon does bring value to the general consumer population by pushing imcumbent brands like Walgreens and CVS to sharpen their pencil and lower prices as needed. Amazon has a unique ability to cast transparency into the market, and the ensuing competition is good for consumers. That said, there is much more value to brick-and-mortar pharmacy than just picking up and Rx. About 85 percent of prescriptions filled are related to refills. For the balance of 15 percent, people are likely to have a more immediate need for the drugs and therefore place value on a visit to a local store. Thinking about the other items sold in a pharmacy, the value of a neighborhood store should remain strong for consumers for the foreseeable future.
  • Posted on: 07/10/2018

    Will lockers transform Home Depot’s BOPIS operations?

    The Home Depot locker strategy makes sense for the DIY chain, but also should become a standard for many other retailers. The locker meets the need to satisfy a well-documented customer use case, therefore is a worthwhile investment. While the strategy makes sense for many retailers, how the final steps of delivery are implemented should be customized for each retailer. For some, lockers are the answer. For others, a personal touch where an associate has quick access to the item and can bring added value to the delivery might work better. My only regret about the topic is now we have yet another acronym to add to our marketing vocabulary (small joke).
  • Posted on: 07/06/2018

    Urban Outfitters buys into installment payment plan

    Any advantage for a retailer to break through the noise of a highly competitive market and gain an advantage is worth a try. I'm a little disappointed that a trend could develop where consumers are encouraged to finance lower ticket items (clothes) that most financial advisors would recommend are purchased through cash saved and on hand. From a customer experience point-of-view, the long-term impact on the etailers using the system will be formed by the level of delinquency that develops and the feedback in social channels about late fees and collection processes.
  • Posted on: 06/22/2018

    Apple’s Ahrendts sees a ‘bigger purpose than just selling’ for retail

    The role of the retail store must continue to evolve and focus on sharing information, educating on the products and services sold, and providing service and support. Humans still have a need for face-to-face interaction with others and the ability to touch, feel, trial, query, and get support builds confidence in a particular product. That confidence translates into multiple purchases over time and higher brand loyalty. Apple is correct to adapt their hiring practices to focus on those who can deliver on a personal level and communicate care and empathy. Let's not forget however that anytime we use Apple, Amazon, Walmart or Starbucks as an example for others to follow, that these are power brands with far more resources and brand magnetism than is available to most retailers. The tricky part of these conversations is not whether Apple is doing it right, they are, but what part of their execution can be adopted by other retailers with a smaller resource pool and more mundane brand presence.
  • Posted on: 06/22/2018

    Supreme Court rules e-tailers must collect state sales taxes

    Disruption and disintermediation are the goals of many entrepreneurs. More power to anyone who can shift a model and discover a competitive edge. At the same time, there has to be a boundary of fair play in the marketplace. Requiring online retailers to collect sales tax as promulgated by this decision restores a fair boundary for all retailers. Now, let the competition begin again. With this obstacle taken off the table, will we see offline retailers be able to take advantage and reverse their fortunes in any way?
  • Posted on: 05/23/2018

    Best Buy’s Geek Squad is now available by subscription

    Total Tech Support should prove to be an effective tactic to create and maintain a higher level of engagement with customers of Best Buy. While cries of the Retail Apocalypse abound, retailers are scratching their heads about how to leverage their sunk investment in real estate. Being a showroom for Amazon is not going to be enough, and there needs to be an expansion of reasons "why" customers take time to walk into store locations. A subscription service with ties to the stores themselves is a worthy attempt to leverage the physical locations at Best Buy and to create higher engagement with customers. On first sight, I thought the price point of the subscription was high, but in consideration of hourly rates for local computer repair stores, $199 is more than reasonable for an annual bundle of time and service.
  • Posted on: 05/21/2018

    Will greater transparency drive a digital targeting backlash?

    When trying to understand how consumers will react to a change in the level of transparency used by advertisers, or changes to the techniques being used to deliver ads online, I struggle as consumers themselves don't behave consistently in how they give up their data to various parties online. Let me explain. Consumers sign EULA for software they purchase as well as use SSO to create accounts at e-commerce sites using their Google, Facebook or Twitter account information. It is safe to say that few of the EULA's are read and that few consumers understand what they are giving away through their use of SSO. Over 4 million people have sent their DNA to Ancestry.com through the mail to an unknown place where "someone" analyzes their family origins and returns a report. These examples tell us that consumers will release more information than they realize they are sharing and do so without prejudice if they think they are receiving a worthwhile benefit. The standards consumers use to evaluate the use of their online behaviour by marketers for retargeting seems to be higher and more precise. There is also GDPR to consider. I would disclose more and take the high road. At the end of the day, retailers are not going to win by tricking consumers into making purchases. Their products and services have to carry weight on their own.
  • Posted on: 01/04/2018

    Consumers want their digital promos and print circulars, too

    The pivotal comment in the article for me was this: "Overall, the survey found that almost half of U.S. households engage with at least eight different print and digital sources of information about products and sales." Turns out that of all the marketing buzzword nonsense that is proliferated in the marketplace, "omnichannel" is one that has substance. The rise of email did not spell the death of print and catalogs. The rise of social did not spell the death of email. And now, it seems clear the rise of the mobile device as the principal entry point for consumers to learn about a brand and its products will not mute the effectiveness of other existing channels. Using multiple channels to gain maximum coverage of a customer group is wise. Smart use of the data collected through promotional campaigns, blogs, clubs and loyalty programs is the basis to understand how to match customers with their preferred channels.
  • Posted on: 01/03/2018

    Should Amazon have Target in its acquisition sights?

    The most innovative move that Amazon can make is to avoid the predictable one of acquiring brick and mortar chains to expand its business footprint. Amazon has built its business on removing friction and cost from retail commerce. If their next move is to continue acquisition efforts in bricks and mortar (post Whole Foods), does this mean that they have exhausted their opportunities to disintermediate or innovate in the digital channel? Continued partnership efforts with retails already invested in brick and mortar might be a better step while Amazon fortifies itself with Whole Foods.
  • Posted on: 12/20/2017

    7-Eleven goes omnichannel with mobile, BOPIS and delivery

    Retailers are learning that it is not enough to have a mobile app. There has to be a strong value proposition for customers to download and use the app. Smart retailers like 7-Eleven realize this and are building "inside out," by focusing on core functionality like mobile ordering, delivery, etc. The new delivery service from 7-Eleven is a solid step towards building engagement with its app. That said, this strategy will surely have more traction when deployed by the likes of QSR and casual dining chains. It is questionable if the fundamental needs of convenience store customers are being served by a digital ordering service. Many big corporate chains (WAWA, Sheetz, Cumberland Farms) are focusing on improving the in-store experience to drive traffic and sales. This might be a higher priority than offering digital ordering and it will be interesting to see if 7-Eleven knows something the others do not.
  • Posted on: 08/16/2017

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

    Dick's could be the poster child for testing whether a focus on customer experience can outweigh other factors in maintaining market share. It is probably inevitable that the chain will have to soften its pricing and accept a future life with slightly lower margin. That said, if it thinks that price and promotion alone will protect market share and the core business over the long term, think again. Taking on the fight with, for instance, Amazon, seems to be a losing battle. Dick's should make some adjustments in its pricing formulas, but otherwise consider the many opportunities to leverage its physical store chain to attract and maintain customers. I've seen where Saks and other are opening gyms in their stores. I'm not sold on this as the brand does not fit with the activity. Dick's however, has the opportunity to bring people into the store to do what they want to do with the clothes, shoes, and equipment they purchase. It seems a perfect fit.
  • Posted on: 08/16/2017

    What bad habits do retail solution providers need to break?

    Fully agree with Dave Bruno below. My description is that we need to deliver first, build trust and only then seek to "ladder up" in the organization to sell more product or services. All too often, a first sale is made and more attention is given to incremental business than delivering on the reality of the day. Stay focused, be grateful for what you have, and build trust with your client. Good things will happen down the road.
  • Posted on: 06/30/2017

    Does Blue Apron’s ‘meh’ IPO spell trouble for meal kit services?

    A quick analysis of the financials disclosed in the Blue Apron circular shows amazing growth between 2014 - 2015, with growth in 2016, but at a reduced rate. Investors should have demanded to see how the growth pattern continues through the end of 2017 in order to draw conclusions about retention rates. I've seen criticism of the marketing spend at Blue Apron, but as a percent of revenues, the numbers have remained consistent in the 18% range. Overall, Opex is decreasing as a % of revenues over the 2014 - 2016 period. At least the company is controlling overall expense levels as sales grow. This is a company which might have been better advised to stay out of public markets. The model is too easy to duplicate for the company to sustain market value over a longer period of time. A better strategy would have been to achieve profitability and become an acquisition target on a smaller scale.

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