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: 04/24/2019

    Should retailers promote brand backstories?

    For years now, we've been talking about the importance of authenticity for brands and retailers. Customers want to know what they're buying and who made it -- its true identity. They want "clean" food and responsibly sourced products. This is undoubtedly true of well-familiar products as well.
  • Posted on: 04/23/2019

    Are secondhand sales the right branding move for Neiman Marcus?

    Luxury customers have made it abundantly clear that they want gently used product, whether it's from upscale consignment stores (check out Worth Avenue in Palm Beach!), or online sites like Poshmark and TheRealReal. It makes complete sense for Neiman's to get in on the action, providing its customers with a one-stop shop.
  • Posted on: 04/22/2019

    Is it time to push the ‘go faster’ button on cloud computing?

    The argument for cloud computing has already been won. The question now is whether retailers will move there quickly enough. Cloud is changing the personality of IT shops across the industry.
  • Posted on: 04/19/2019

    Is AI’s impact on demand forecasting more hype than reality?

    I recently had dinner with a group of CIOs who said their demand forecasting was all over the map. When I asked about AI, they said their merchants "don't trust the machines." As long as retailers are willing to accept mediocre results, we'll live with the consequences.
  • Posted on: 04/18/2019

    H&M launches online peer-to-peer styling forum

    Odd name, but a timely idea in the age of Instagram. This might be a particularly relevant service for students making the transition from campus to workplace. With adequate safeguards to check content, Itsapark could become a key element of the H&M experience.
  • Posted on: 04/17/2019

    Apple owns the checkout at Decathlon’s sporting goods store

    There are a number of operational issues around this kind of checkout, including the need for a surface upon which to fold apparel items, a printer for receipts (and gift receipts) and bags. It will be interesting to see how Decathlon handles these.
  • Posted on: 04/15/2019

    Is Bed Bath & Beyond smart to draw the line on coupons?

    Paula has identified the heart of the issue -- the perception (and reality?) that prices are higher here to accommodate for their ubiquitous coupons. Combine this with the reality that most of Bed Bath's merchandise is readily available elsewhere. The first thing this company should do is to convene panels of real customers and ask for feedback on how to proceed.
  • Posted on: 04/12/2019

    Should retailers worry that secondhand apparel is flooding the market?

    Thrift shopping became very popular during the recession, and the trend hasn't abated. It's tough for retailers to compete with their own merchandise, available for 90 percent off. Going forward, retailers are going to want to come up with a new business model or two to address this.
  • Posted on: 04/11/2019

    Amazon Go doesn’t want to leave cash on the table

    This is a blessing in disguise for Amazon; there's just no disputing that the human element is important, and disenfranchising young people and our less affluent neighbors wasn't a good look. This will wind up being a win for them.
  • Posted on: 04/10/2019

    Will Walmart clean up with its robotic workforce?

    If Walmart can address out-of-stocks in a meaningful way with this technology, they'll not only recognize better sales, but also mop the floor with the competition.
  • Posted on: 04/09/2019

    Will Rent the Runway become all the fashion for kids?

    If there's a business model here, Rent the Runway is on the right track. But where exactly do kids go that they need to dress to impress?
  • Posted on: 04/05/2019

    Trump’s China tariff dispute leaves retail and consumer brands in limbo

    The current occupant of the Oval Office promised tariffs, then delivered. Perhaps retail might have made a more discerning choice when choosing whom to support.
  • Posted on: 04/03/2019

    McDonald’s reverses positions, won’t actively oppose minimum wage hikes

    Our insistence on paying markedly low wages has finally come home to roost...employees in these jobs can't afford to purchase the goods we make. A recent Washington Post article addressed the issue of full-time workers in DC who live in tent camps. We as a society have to make this unacceptable.
  • Posted on: 04/02/2019

    Again, Amazon attempts to shed Whole Foods’ high price image

    Not only are Whole Foods' prices high, but many daily specials are available only to Prime customers. If this paradigm remains, Whole Foods will continue to occupy only a niche market.
  • Posted on: 04/02/2019

    Which data sources should be driving personalization?

    This is a key missed opportunity for retailers. Why can't I post that I'm looking for a dress to wear for a certain occasion, then have retailers suggest items? If you're planning to replace your kitchen, why can't you state dimensions and preferences and have retailers bid? And then, after the item is purchased, turn off the notification?

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