Cathy Hotka

Principal, Cathy Hotka & Associates

Cathy Hotka has personal relationships with most of North America’s most influential retail technology leaders. Cathy Hotka & Associates is a different kind of retail IT marketing firm, leveraging close relationships with CIOs to assist technology companies, and working with retail CIOs to create thought leadership materials. The company was founded in 2002 and enjoys working relationships with many Tier 1 retailers and vendors.

Prior to creating the firm, Hotka created the CIO Council for the National Retail Federation, and staffed the American Petroleum Institute’s IT Council. She has worked on Capitol Hill and the White House, and has been recognized by Computerworld, CIO, Executive Technology, and the Wharton School of Business.

  • Posted on: 06/10/2019

    Walmart debuts store-to-fridge fresh food delivery service

    Delivery into the kitchen sounds downright perilous in some cases. Each one of us knows a house in the neighborhood that we wouldn't enter on a bet. All the training in the world won't prepare these couriers for some of the things they'll see. My brother lives in a lovely neighborhood in a historical district, but his next door neighbor is a hoarder who owns a 6-foot python. In-fridge delivery sounds like the next step on the road to customer-centricity, but dangers lurk.
  • Posted on: 06/07/2019

    Will associates rocking new vests help improve Walmart’s image and results?

    Love the new vests. The biggest challenge, though, is the wage. I'll seriously date myself here, but I was making $5.50 an hour over 40 years ago. Walmart is moving in the right direction, but a little extra cash would go a long way.
  • Posted on: 06/06/2019

    Stores have cut out-of-stocks. Why don’t consumers know that?

    Perceived out-of-stocks remain a persistent problem in the industry. Members of the Store Operations Council blame several factors, but over-busy store associates are a key factor. Until we can get more talent in the store we'll have this problem.
  • Posted on: 06/05/2019

    Walmart’s checkout pilot puts shoppers in the fast lane

    I'm with Paula. My local grocer's self-checkout is downright hostile to people who are checking out a full basket. First it insists that I must stop scanning and start bagging because there are "too many items on the counter," then, while I'm bagging, loudly and repeatedly asks me if I've finished scanning. Self-checkout is great if a customer has a few items; beyond that, it's just a pain.
  • Posted on: 06/04/2019

    Walmart to expand its talent pipeline with a debt-free college plan for high schoolers

    Walmart also has a leadership program; in many cases, its graduates represent the first graduation in that family. The retail industry needs to do a better job of bragging about retail careers.
  • Posted on: 06/03/2019

    Will the price of avocados make Americans say enough to Trump’s tariffs?

    This president has enjoyed the previous Administration's economy, but these new moves are about to apply the brakes. When avocados are too expensive, when fruit is too expensive, when cars are too expensive, the economy will slow. Grocers will have no choice but to raise prices. What's unclear is whether consumers will blame their government, or retailers.
  • Posted on: 05/30/2019

    How can retailers help employees improve? (Hint: Not by criticizing them)

    One familiar topic at the Store Operations Council meeting is mentoring sales associates. Most of them want to contribute and bring new ideas. They're looking for a chance to shine. Great managers will offer encouragement and look for ways to build them up.
  • Posted on: 05/29/2019

    Are Apple’s classes getting in the way?

    Jeff Sward is right. Classes sell products! Apple is definitely savvy enough to figure out how to deal with the abundance.
  • Posted on: 05/28/2019

    Can department stores shake themselves out of the doldrums?

    It's hard to get excited about department stores when aisles are stuffed with racks of merchandise that's being marked down. While TJX lures customers with thoughtful merchandising and tempting displays, many department stores seem to be saying "help us get this stuff out of here." Big changes are needed.
  • Posted on: 05/24/2019

    Do the benefits of using facial recognition in retail outweigh the risks?

    Stop 10 customers in a store, tell them that their face is being analyzed, and watch them walk right out the door.
  • Posted on: 05/23/2019

    Are retail HQs and stores suffering a communication breakdown?

    If there's one message that emerges from every meeting of the Store Operations Council, it's that stores are given too many tasks, which results in uneven performance. There are no easy answers.
  • Posted on: 05/22/2019

    Should retail boards include seats for store associates?

    I'm no fan of Mr. Sanders, but executive compensation isn't tethered to reality. Walmart's CEO makes over $62,000 per day. PER DAY. Could he have a relevant conversation with a store associate? A board seat may not be in the cards, but unless we want a permanent underclass in this country, things have to change.
  • Posted on: 05/21/2019

    When the going gets tough, the tough get transparent

    Now that customers have access to information from almost unlimited sources, it is imperative that brands and retailers commit to transparency. Rothy's customers (including the Duchess of Sussex) are loyal, and will appreciate the company's forthrightness.
  • Posted on: 05/21/2019

    How should retailers raise prices to offset tariffs?

    I'll add another tip to Bob Phibbs' great list: educate the public. Certain items (like appliances) are being affected dramatically, and explanations for price hikes in the department should help with sticker shock.
  • Posted on: 05/20/2019

    Just how big is Amazon’s ethics challenge?

    Amazon has come a long way since its early days as "Earth's largest book store." I'll guess that the questions raised in this story are shared by industry observers, not average Americans, who tend to give huge corporations the benefit of the doubt. Some of us, though, keep Alexa unplugged and prefer real free shipping, not "free" shipping that costs $12.99 per month.

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