PROFILE

Chuck Ehredt

CEO, Currency Alliance

Charles (Chuck) Ehredt is a seasoned entrepreneur and problem solver who built a career on turning business challenges into opportunities by aligning people with the right technologies. Now the CEO and co-founder of Currency Alliance, Chuck oversees a new way for international brands to collaborate through loyalty initiatives, so they can affordably capture a spectrum of customer insights that ensure better personalization and maximum lifetime value. As a serial entrepreneur, Chuck has launched 12 companies across multiple sectors and has helped fund 23 as an angel investor.

Chuck has also invested in 23 companies as a business angel investor and remains active as a mentor and coach for early stage companies or mature businesses trying to find their new product-market fit.

More information can be found at www.currencyalliance.com or linkedin.com/in/charles-ehredt

Serial entrepreneur at the convergence of FinTech and Marketing.
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  • Posted on: 06/16/2021

    Is simpler better for rewards programs?

    The answer is that both reward structures drive different types of behavior - albeit among different percentages of customers. Complexity is bad in every loyalty program, but tiered programs do not need to be complex if designed wisely. When customers don´t understand how to earn points or how they can redeem the points for rewards, then take-up will be modest and benefits will be reduced for all stakeholders (including customers). The best designs are simple and understandable by the mid-tail customer (i.e., the average customer). Frequent customers will figure out how to game the system for their own benefit and should be rewarded for the level of engagement. However the biggest pot of money is in the mid-tail and longer-tail customers that could be much more frequent and allocate more share of wallet if there is something useful in it for them. Unfortunately, most programs are optimized for frequent customers and do little to grow share of wallet among the middle mass of customers.
  • Posted on: 06/11/2021

    How do retailers and brands overcome consumers’ ‘green’ skepticism?

    Retailers need to walk the talk. It is as simple as that. It also helps if they share what they are doing with consumers via in-store marketing, social media, and other communications channels, but the most important thing is to stop the greenwashing. Consumers are not stupid.
  • Posted on: 06/09/2021

    Did the pandemic fundamentally shift retailer/vendor relationships?

    The pandemic led to all types of situations, and led to many new relationships and business models, so the adversity probably led to strengthened relationships where trust and respect exists, and strained those relationships where the supplier is treated like a vendor -- and not a partner. In my particular case, I learned that all the travel to demonstrate we care about the relationship is worth about half the expense we were incurring prior to COVID-19, but also our prospects and partners learned that we can be very accessible. The old expression that "what goes around, comes around" will play out during the recovery and those that acted badly will have double the work to do to keep their business headed in the right direction.
  • Posted on: 06/04/2021

    Does every online retailer need to have a third-party marketplace?

    Considering marketplaces now means that brands are already late to the party. However the opportunity for grabbing market share is still possible with an intelligent design, good mix of appropriate partners, and efficient operations to ensure real value can be delivered to customers. Marketplaces have been evolving for thousands of years. Before Amazon, the most dramatic evolution was shopping malls. Who knows what it will be in 20 years but, for the next 10 years, capturing and retaining customers as they increasingly migrate purchases (or at least shopping) online is of paramount importance. That can be achieved by operating a marketplace, but even with success of their own marketplace brands need to learn how to operate in marketplaces not controlled by themselves. That is where customers are spending their spare time and brands need to be visible in the appropriate digital spaces. I see lots of medium and smaller brands optimizing their presence in marketplaces, but very few large brands engaging in this. That is a massive mistake for the large brands.
  • Posted on: 05/27/2021

    Will Walmart and Gap be good partners or strange bedfellows?

    This is another good example of retail extending to create marketplaces where consumers can find more of what they want in one place. Gap may be new in home fashion, but the "comfortableness" and "value" associated with the Gap brands is highly relevant and will gain scale with Walmart's distribution. We will see much more of this (it has been happening online for a decade and now it is extending to physical retail).
  • Posted on: 05/24/2021

    Vans can’t skate by on its pre-pandemic reputation

    It is true that fashions come and go, but Vans has built a solid base of customers and been able to innovate over time, so I think this is a temporary dip. They have strong online communities that keep customers engaged, and sales professionals at store level that reflect their target customer. Leadership will be key, but unless they fall out of touch with their core segments the loyalty built over many years will keep Vans relevant.
  • Posted on: 05/21/2021

    Are student loan repayments the next big perk in retailer loyalty programs?

    This is a good example of retailers adapting their loyalty programs to offer rewards that are more tailored to the desires of each customer segment. Customers should have much more choice than just cashback, proprietary points, or discounts. Of course, some points/miles can have much higher perceived value than their cost, so offering exchange between loyalty currencies can also appeal to those who know how to maximize value of an opaquely-valued loyalty currency.
  • Posted on: 05/14/2021

    Will Walmart’s early payment program be a difference-maker for minority vendors?

    Big Box retailers, bakeries, and many other types of chain stores grew their location count during the past three decades by generating working capital from suppliers. Customers pay when goods are sold, but retailers paid their suppliers in 60-90 days - so store expansion could be funded with the float. I remember selling toys to Target 10 years ago and we had to get $5 million in bank funding just to accept the order. It is nice to see Walmart trying to be a bit more fair to their supply chain - especially after killing so many companies during the past 30 years. Hopefully customers notice too.
  • Posted on: 05/14/2021

    Hubert Joly says ‘human connection’ laid the foundation of Best Buy’s turnaround

    This is a classic example of good retailing - i.e., knowing your customer so you can meet their needs. It is not easy to implement in an organization with thousands of employees, but Joly got the right team to get the right culture in place. So many other brands need to pay attention to this. It has been a while since I felt the employees of a retailer cared for me and my needs at all (with a few exceptions). That is a shame.
  • Posted on: 05/14/2021

    Should retailers continue to require associates and customers to wear masks?

    Retailers and their employees should comply with laws and health recommendations. Beyond that, some customers may not care if employees are wearing masks, but since some will care, I think retailers should require their employees to wear masks to make the shopping environment as safe and welcoming as possible until there is no remaining threat.
  • Posted on: 05/12/2021

    Uber Eats delivers dinner with a side of blush

    This collaboration is probably not as much about cosmetics as it is about measuring the elasticity of Uber's marketing capability. Their subsidiary in the Middle East (Careem) has been playing with the super app business model for some time. People who have observed how OTAs evolved over the past 20 years, how FinTech digital banks are evolving compared to traditional financial service providers, etc. anticipate that consumers will ultimately adopt one or two primary portals (apps/websites) through which they do 60 percent to 80 percent of their shopping. The operators of such marketplaces will command enormous influence over consumers AND brands in the future. Mobility operators are in a great position to win customer attention because people need mobility two to 10 times every day (and that frequency is much higher than the supermarket or other retail channels). Even self-driving car developers are eyeing the opportunity to command eyeballs during short trips and commutes to let customers take care of other needs during this captive period of time.
  • Posted on: 04/30/2021

    Should retailers welcome vaccine passports?

    Retailers don´t require passports today and I doubt for most, it will improve confidence for those shopping, or those trying to figure out where to shop. Requiring this would just add friction. For non-retail venues, passports may be much more relevant if people are in close proximity and people are not wearing masks.
  • Posted on: 04/26/2021

    Will stock ownership work as a loyalty program perk?

    This is an interesting idea that will appeal to some customers. But just like most other programs, offering only one type of reward will not appeal to many customers, so I believe this needs to be an alternative redemption option in a catalog of many choices. The other point is that it sounds interesting and cool (good buzz). However in practice, people might spend 10 percent of their discretionary monthly spend at the grocery store, but only 1 percent to 2 percent at any other retailer. So for a person spending $30,000 per year on "stuff" - only 1 percent of that will go to a particular retailer (i.e., $300). If the retailer gives 1 percent in loyalty value to buy shares, they are getting $3 per year in a particular company. That doesn´t really move the needle. However on a credit card with 1 percent cashback, if I invested that in the stock market over 30 years, we are now talking about $15,000 to $20,000 in future wealth. Not huge, but would buy a nice around-the-world trip upon retirement.
  • Posted on: 04/23/2021

    Can retailers wait any longer for government to move on climate change?

    Every business has a responsibility to help protect the planet for future generations and, with the growing portion of customers that are concerned about the environment, retailers need to be more proactive rather than just waiting for legislation to force them to evolve. Business cases I saw a decade ago for becoming more sustainable were not particularly attractive unless you built your brand on it (Patagonia, etc.), but today the ROI from most initiatives simply make good business sense. Furthermore, employees are also increasingly concerned and motivated to contribute, so the time is right for brands that have just been green-washing (or doing little) to get engaged.
  • Posted on: 04/20/2021

    What goes into delivering a ‘wow’ shopping experience?

    In the last couple years, CX (in-store and online) has been advancing rapidly, and time-starved customers are becoming less patient. It now seems that the best experience received anywhere is what customers expect from every brand they engage with. Of course most brands are not positioned to deliver excellence on a consistent basis. And that is OK. It is much better to be consistently good rather than sometimes excellent and sometimes poor. In fact, it can be dangerous to deliver an outstanding customer experience (sometimes) because it may raise customer expectations - and then those customers will be disappointed when they receive a good experience. So striving for "wow" should be on the minds of staff but delivered only in exceptional situations.

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