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: 09/14/2021

    Will Kohl’s be known for something other than its retail partners?

    Businesses with the reach and breadth of Kohl's are becoming platforms, so adding brands that attract customers is a natural extension of such a marketplace. Ms. Gass may be under pressure for not meeting investor expectations, but at least she sees how the market is evolving and various potential roles for Kohl's to play in the new landscape.
  • Posted on: 09/10/2021

    What’s the ideal age to start a retail business?

    I don´t believe there is a best age to start a new business, but the ability to make the best decisions often comes from cumulative experience - so people who have built up the relevant experience will have an edge. What is more important is to have the right idea and business model. Younger entrepreneurs may be less locked into traditional approaches of doing business, so their ability to find a clever new approach that stands out in the market may be more possible. And, of course, few good or great businesses have ever been built with a great deal of passion. Therefore the entrepreneur needs to be committed to something that creates value for customers - and then they are off to the races.
  • Posted on: 08/19/2021

    Do downtown shopping districts need their own loyalty programs?

    Any group of complementary businesses should consider collaborating to co-create more value for customers. Downtown Loyalty Programs may be the epitome of complementary businesses. The key to long-term success is fairness to all stakeholders, a unit of measure (points) that have real economic value and are stable over time, and the technology cost (vendor) is cheap (i.e. about 0.02%-0.04% of sales). We can deliver the technology at this cost, but often local politics and turf battles get in the way of execution. There needs to be strong leadership and then these programs can be remarkably powerful and drive immediate results.
  • Posted on: 08/18/2021

    Should grocery stores retire the ethnic aisle?

    Organizing food selection by cultural cooking style is very helpful for customers. It is probably time to retire the word "ethnic" from the description because is implies negative connotations for some people, but organizing food types by global regions should stay.
  • Posted on: 08/18/2021

    Will new cash-back cards deliver healthy returns for Walgreens?

    This is not an investment by Walgreens. They will make a lot of money from the co-branded card operator (bank) and get a lot of useful insight about customer spend outside Walgreens. What is open for debate is how many people will take them up on the new cards (aren´t people who actually pay their bills already inundated with payment methods), and will they be able to put all the new data to profitable use? You can´t build loyalty with a loyalty program, points, or other gimmicks. Loyalty is primarily based on the customer's overall perceived value from the brand, and their cumulative experience interacting across all touchpoints with the brand. If those are broken, new cards will have a minor impact on the business.
  • Posted on: 08/17/2021

    Will a Prime-style subscription service take Albertsons business to a new level?

    Subscription services work well to increase share of wallet from those customers already frequently shopping the brand, since there is no longer an incentive to quick run to the closest store when you just need a few things. They can also nudge a few mid-tail customers to allocate much more share-of-wallet to the provider. However they often reduce the incentive for less frequent customers to shift more share-of-wallet. In Albertsons case, I think the $30 minimum order is important. Brands should watch out, though, because if the economy turns south and customers evaluate where they are spending their monthly income, many will realize they have racked up $300-$500 in subscriptions and those will be the first to cut. I believe Albertsons needs to collaborate more with complementary brands to attract new customers and build richer customer insight based on what their customers spend elsewhere. Improving the personalized experience will have more impact.
  • Posted on: 08/13/2021

    Are websites a must-have for all retailers?

    With 80 percent+ of people searching on the web for what they need to solve problems, any business that doesn´t maintain a presence on the web is basically invisible. Furthermore, even regular customers want an asynchronous channel to communicate with the brand, so allowing customers an easy way to ask if the brand is open on Sunday or has a product in stock can be powerful. Of course any business that doesn´t have a website today will not be reading these comments.
  • Posted on: 08/09/2021

    What benefits do premium loyalty program members value?

    The article has most of the answers because consumers have been clear that they don´t want to be nickeled and dimed on shipping, returns, etc. - and that they want to be treated special. Treating customers like people is hard for the cultures at many brands, or their CRM does not put useful customer insight in the hands of front-line workers. I believe the next wave of innovation will largely be going back to basics while being supported by modern technology that allows brands to deliver more customized experiences. No two customers are identical, but thousands of people in one segment are likely to appreciate common benefits - so it is possible for brands to deliver at scale - if they just get to work and stop bickering internally about how to execute.
  • Posted on: 07/28/2021

    Will smaller retailers pay to use Walmart’s tech and transform their own businesses?

    This is more than a question of tactics or recouping investment. Walmart recognizes that customers are spending more time in marketplaces where many brands compete for the attention of customers. They must play there, but by sharing technology, they can capture more relevant experience and customer insight by enabling SMEs to ride on their rails. There will not be one marketplace in the future, but dozens and Walmart needs to be the key operator in one of them and present in numerous others. However, there will also not be hundreds of marketplaces in any one country, so we will see medium and smaller retailers piggy-backing on large commercial organizations in many of them. What Walmart might consider is how to provide the on-ramp for a single retailer to be present on dozens of marketplaces. That is something Amazon is unlikely to do, but retailers really need this service. (It is effectively what channel managers in hospitality did 10-15 years ago -- and grew a huge new technology and distribution segment.)
  • Posted on: 07/23/2021

    Will an enhanced rewards program turn Gap’s customers into ‘lifelong loyalists’?

    This is an important move for Gap and their customers. It should also entice another 5%-10% of customers at each brand to join the program in the first place because the pace to rewards is accelerated. Of course, they could go further and collaborate with additional complementary brands -- enhancing value further, and even generating a new revenue stream as partners pay for the points issued to common customers. We will see this type of multi-brand collaboration accelerate significantly over the coming years -- in part because it drives customer engagement, but importantly, because it also allows complementary brands to share customer insight -- helping each partner better understand the profile of each customer and driving more personalized engagement.
  • Posted on: 07/19/2021

    Is the Walmart/Justice tie-up a harbinger of more retailer brand partnerships?

    RetailWire has been reporting on this type of collaboration all year. Walmart is a platform (marketplace, commerce ecosystem, media platform - whatever you want to call it) and Justice is now mostly a product line that needs visibility, distribution, and logistics. One of every brand's top priorities during the next two to five years is to learn how to promote itself and reach sales targets on commerce and social media platforms that they don´t own or control. Customers now spend more of their time in these marketplaces and brands must be present to survive. Of course, there are many additional benefits from partner collaboration beyond cost-sharing. The data sharing potential to build richer customer insights and improve personalization are tremendous. Brands that think they know a customer, or worse, own a customer, based on only the business they do directly with the customer are blind to how the market has evolved. They need to embrace complementary partners to extend reach and improve effectiveness.
  • Posted on: 07/15/2021

    What does it take to successfully rent customers on social commerce platforms?

    This whole ideal of owning a customer has been flawed for decades. The customer may be direct or indirect, but they are not owned by a brand. The amount of data about direct and indirect customers can vary widely and can usually be kept by a brand, but I still think the concept of owning the data is flawed. GDPR and other data privacy laws are clearly shifting ownership to the customer and in five years, the customer may rent their data to a brand for a limited or extended period of time. The key in all this is that we are using the example of renting a customer on social media, but in reality the entire commerce environment is migrating toward marketplaces and other types of ecosystems where customers now spend most of their time. Brands must learn how to engage with customers in environments not owned by them. This involves loyalty and marketing tactics that keeps the brand visible and top of mind in channels not under direct control. This will be a steep learning curve for many traditional marketing organizations.
  • Posted on: 07/14/2021

    When will predictive models become more predictable?

    Predictive analytics has existed for decades and they work increasingly well when the data fed into them is clean and the parameters are adjusted over time based on reality. The problem we see every week is that companies have not been able to get all the relevant data into one place so it can be used appropriately. This not only affects purchasing, but personalization. Since I´m involved in innovation, I sign up for just about every new service to learn how they work. But even after months of engaging with a new service, only one out of 100 will start to call me Chuck (rather than Charles). The problem is not with the models, but with too many people introducing anomalies and too few taking responsibility for proper execution.
  • Posted on: 07/14/2021

    Will ending non-competes be good for retail workers and their bosses?

    I think the approach taken by the State of Washington is very sensible. Lower waged people probably have less access to critical trade secrets and their restrictions on employment should be minimal, but if anyone at any level could take trade secrets to the competitor, then developing business strategy (or competitive strategy) in the first place ceases to be very useful. Imagine hiring one executive from a competitor every nine months or so in order to learn what your competition was going to do during the next one to three years; or likewise, knowing that one of your executives would be poached every year - thereby losing an edge on major programs or campaigns. That would severely affect the capitalist system. At the end of the day, businesses win based on execution of strategy, but I believe non-competes have their place in companies. And companies are effectively paying for the non-compete restriction based on salaries and bonuses offered.
  • 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.

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