David Katz

EVP & CMO, Randa Accessories
David J. Katz is a "LinkedIn Top Voice in Retail," a best-selling author, a frequent public speaker, an alchemist, and the chief marketing officer at Randa Accesories, a leading multi-national consumer products company, and the world's largest men's accessories business. His specialty is applying insights, data, story-telling, technology and analytics to influence consumer behavior. He helps retailers, brands and suppliers create successful outcomes in evolving markets. David has "hands on" experience with P&L, M&A, Leadership Development and Digital Transformation. He has ongoing collaborations with global brands including Levi's, Polo Ralph Lauren, Dickies, Tommy Hilfiger, and Columbia Sportswear. And he works closely with leading retailers including Macy's, Kohl's, JCPenney, Amazon, Nordstrom, Walmart, Target, Costco, Hudson's Bay, Liverpool, Debenhams, David Jones, Printemps, & El Cortes Ingles. Named a fashion industry "Change Agent" by Women's Wear Daily and a "Menswear Mover" by MR Magazine, he has been featured in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, New York Magazine, Business Insider, The Huffington Post, and other publications. A frequent public speaker, he is co-author of the best-selling book "Design for Response: Creative Direct Marketing That Works," and has written many articles on marketing and consumer behavior. David is a graduate of Tufts University and the Harvard Business School in neuroscience and marketing. To learn more, visit:
  • Posted on: 01/28/2019

    What do shoppers really want? Do retailers have a clue?

    In-store experience must be RELEVANT to the consumer, and must offer one or more of these attributes: choice, convenience, or cost (the best assortment, the best curation, the best prices, and/or the best service). Poorly-conceived experiences, however, will continue to proliferate at retailers who just can't see the goal line.
  • Posted on: 01/23/2019

    Will a different kind of ‘innovation hub’ open the future to food growth opportunities?

    Innovation culture at successful legacy companies is linear. One thing leads to another. Efficiency and optimization are highly valued. And innovation strategy is deliberate. Everyone knows where the company has been, where it is, where it is headed, and the plans to get there. Start-up culture is nonlinear. It values novelty. Start-up innovation is often inefficient at its onset, and strategies are emergent -- they bubble up from all directions. Reid Hoffman, the founder of LinkedIn, once said; "start-up innovation requires that you to throw yourself off a cliff ... and build the plane on the way down."  For incumbents, the larger you are the faster you fall. It’s a common misconception that legacy cultures fail to identify non-linear innovations, that they’re stuck in the “old” way of doing things. In our experience, this is plain wrong. The real problem is that most non-linear innovation does not serve current customers, it disrupts the legacy process — which drives the bulk of the sales and cash flow — and it is often a big distraction for little immediate gain. Conversely, start-up cultures are inspired by disruption. And these teams are usually free from the encumbrance of comp sales and increased profits that the other cultures face. Legacy and start-up cultures fiercely compete for limited resources — A-level talent, capital, and technology. They don’t play nicely in the sandbox together. The solution: create an environment where both cultures will thrive, and separate the opposing forces.
  • Posted on: 01/22/2019

    Will Amazon succeed with brand sampling rooted in machine learning?

    Amazon posted a job opening for a senior software engineer, defining the targeted sampling program as: “Free samples of new products are sent to customers selected using Machine Learning, thus ensuring a higher likelihood of conversion than display ads. The program has a challenging mix of problems involving targeting, fulfillment, customer and vendor experience, and cross-campaign learning.” Amazon is America’s third largest advertising platform. With compelling data regarding not only “likes” or “searches” or “preferences” but actual purchases, the addition of physical product sampling is a powerful tool and a major competitive advantage.
  • Posted on: 01/21/2019

    For relevancy’s sake: a tale of two mall upgrades

    In-mall, as with in-store, experiences must be more than theater, they must be relevant and useful to their consumers. Examples include:
    • The Canada Goose see-through freezer dressing rooms, where customers can try on outerwear and step into a 12-degrees-below-zero locker. This is a selfie-magnet that elevates consumer experience, brand awareness and sell-through
    • The Casper Dreamery cost $25 for a 45-minute nap in a cool, quiet compartment with fresh sheets, pajamas, eye masks and a break from the daily grind. No hard sell, just relaxation reinforcing the value of quality sleep. Note: you can’t purchase a mattress at the Dreamery.
    • The Nike “House of Innovation“ is fueled by digital commerce tools. Customers can text to have clothing delivered to dressing rooms in the size and color of their choice, schedule appointments with an in-house stylist or fitness expert, scan mannequins for product information, use the “scan and go” mobile checkout, or pick up reserved items at digital lockers, unlocked with their phone.
    • Showfields was imagined and built around customer experience. Housed in a historic New York City four story building, the store is a cavalcade of ever-changing workshops, brands and classifications filled with online and offline engagement. Similar to B8ta and Macy's Market, brands can lease turn-key space within the store.
    Poorly conceived experiences, however, will continue to proliferate at retailers who just can't see the goal line. Compare the winning models above with feeble attempts at relevance via barber shops, espresso bars, pool tables, and photo ops. And then there's Amazon 4-star... the odd mix of brands, products and cashier-less shopping is designed around data collection rather than customer experience. I anticipate that Amazon's human and artificial intelligence will make these stores more consumer-centric over time.
  • Posted on: 01/21/2019

    Did regional constraints doom Shopko?

    First, online sales get the buzz. Brick-and-mortar gets the dollars. E-commerce will remain a minority of total retail sales, somewhere between 10 and 15 percent of total. The vast majority of sales, over 85 percent, will continue to take place in brick-and-mortar stores. Second, regional players need to leverage their distinct knowledge of their consumer’s needs and provide unique products, services and experiences tailored to that audience. It’s about localized choice, cost and convenience. Finally, as with all other retailers, regional players must have the foresight, fortitude and fearlessness to disrupt their own identity and legacy models.
  • Posted on: 09/07/2018

    J.Crew makes the jump to Amazon’s marketplace

    Previously Mickey Drexler, J.Crew’s former CEO, had said the company would not sell on Amazon because, “Amazon takes every bestseller and puts it into their private label collection.” Whether this new strategy will acquire new customers for J.Crew, or cannibalize their existing base, is yet to be determined. Notably, Nike recently made some of their products available on Amazon, Kohl's has Amazon shops inside some of their stores and Sears, Roebuck and Co. will install tires purchased from Amazon. In an interview with The Wall Street Journal, Mr. Brett shared plans to make the brand more accessible. He said the company will sell clothes at retailers such as U.K. department store John Lewis & Partners and Canadian Hudson's Bay Company.
  • Posted on: 08/29/2018

    What questions should guide a digital transformation?

    Beware of S.O.S.: Shiny Object Syndrome. Just because something can be done, does not mean it should be done. Digital is a tool, not a destination. Tools must serve "jobs to be done." Transformation should lead to better information, yielding faster and more accurate decision-making. Digital's goal is to increase the satisfaction and loyalty of customers, partners and associates. Decrease friction and increase productivity. These factors must be included in any "digital" strategy.
  • Posted on: 08/29/2018

    Amazon’s warehouse workers become social cheerleaders

    "All is fair in love and war ... " and online reviews -- PROVIDED that the reviews are authentic, honest, not paid for and not curated. Motivation is one thing, incentives, rewards and punishment are another.
  • Posted on: 08/06/2018

    Are outsiders required to tackle disruption?

    It’s a common misconception that legacy leadership fails to identify non-linear innovations, that they’re myopic, stuck in the “old” way of doing things.  In my experience, this is plain wrong. The real problem is that most non-linear innovation does not serve current customers, it disrupts the legacy process -- which drives the bulk of the sales and cash flow -- and it is often a big distraction for little immediate gain. Conversely, start-up leadership is inspired by disruption. And startups are usually free from the encumbrance of comp sales and increased profits that the legacy models face. Legacy and start-up business models fiercely compete for limited resources -- A-level talent, capital and technology. Legacy innovation is usually “deliberate,” and top-down. Whereas startup innovation tends to be “emergent,” and bottom up. They don’t play nicely in the sandbox together. Tomorrow’s leaders must engage a start-up mentality without throwing the legacy model out with the bathwater. It’s a rare, and important, management skill.
  • Posted on: 07/23/2018

    How should specialty retail respond to Amazon’s apparel push?

    Amazon did not create today’s “over-supply” of apparel and resultant price compression. They did not invent the internet or e-commerce. Amazon was not the first to sell books online, nor did they introduce the world to digital book downloads. The shift in the legacy retail apparel model is not Amazon’s fault. The previous model was not the “fittest to survive” in the new world order. Amazon is part of apparel’s evolution. The company is satisfying and delighting customers, the goal of all successful retailers. Amazon owns hundreds of physical retail stores and it has created retail selling tools, destination shops and lockers, a powerful third-party apparel marketplace and a loud call-to-action. You can be part of this evolution, too. Amazon is a platform. You can use it. You can differentiate your product, brand and service. What you cannot do is stand still. As a “for profit” corporation, Amazon’s goal is to increase their market share and to make money. They have not created this robust retail value chain to purely benefit third parties. They are a fierce competitor. Whether you are a legacy apparel retailer, a global brand, an emerging supplier, an entrepreneurial start-up or you work in retail you must adapt to the changing landscape of commerce. Keep one eye focused on your customer and the other on Amazon: neither will stay still, nor can you.
  • Posted on: 07/20/2018

    Retailers and brands collide

    Let's be careful not to confuse private "labels" with private "brands." Private label merchandise is generic goods, sold as a commodity (and commodities have price as their value proposition). Private brands, when properly executed, are truly brands, exclusive to a retailer or channel of distribution, with distinct brand attributes, supported by significant marketing. Overall, private label continues the "race to the bottom," favoring low cost producers. The problem with the race to the bottom is that you might just win -- or worse, come in second. Amazon's current approach is that of private label. Costco's approach with Kirkland Signature is that of private brand. Brands make a difference, they separate your products from the herd (as in the origin of the word "branding" for cattle ... ).
  • Posted on: 06/15/2018

    Marshalls brings Father’s Day gifting to Manhattan’s streets

    Creative, attention-grabbing promotion by Marshalls. Renowned for their "treasure hunt" scarcity model, this campaign reinforces the breath of products available -- "Kayaks?" -- terrific. It also plays well to the athleisure trend and getting dad to be more active. Good job all around ...
  • Posted on: 06/14/2018

    Do retailers need RFID to do BOPIS right?

    RFID (and other inventory management tools) is a key component to improving the efficiency of BOPIS and customer satisfaction. Another key element is labor. Distribution centers are considerably more effective at shipping direct-to-consumer than any brick-and-mortar store can be. Labor cost, training, inventory picking stations, conveyors, robotics and other factors are in play. Having centralized vs. widely-distributed inventory is a double-edged sword with considerable operating margin effects.
  • Posted on: 04/23/2018

    Apocalypse? No. Retail faces a reset

    Retail apocalypse = clickbait. It even has its own Wikipedia entry. It's not an apocalypse, the "end of days ... " It's natural selection, a transformation, a renaissance. Change to the retail landscape is not new, it's been happening from the very beginning, thousands of years ago. The only change is the accelerated pace of change. In the article, Schwarztrauber refers to an "80,000" store closure statistic. This comes from a new USB study which predicts that "for every 1 percent increase in eCommerce penetration to total retail sales (excluding food & gas), 9,000 retail stores would need to close in order to maintain current levels of sales per physical store."
 This would be the equivalent to shutting down seven Toys "R" Us chains. 
 Should online penetration of retail sales rise to 25 percent by 2025, USB estimates it could lead to 80,000 store closures (assuming 2 percent sales growth and 2 percent store growth). 
 Sure, many traditional retail stores are closing. And many other stores are opening. Many retail jobs have been lost. Many new retail jobs (drone operators, coders, AI, distribution center, last mile delivery, CSR) have been created. Change is essential, inevitable and often painful.
  • Posted on: 04/20/2018

    What are retailers missing about building a workplace culture?

    Peter Drucker famously said, "Culture eats strategy for breakfast." Culture isn't a top down strategy. It must bubble up over time. What gets rewarded? What is discussed around the water cooler? What is deemed a success, useful, leading to career advancement? It's not what management says at Town Hall or in "mission statements..." It's what they recognize, repeat and reward. A powerful tool for collaboration, speed and efficiency, culture is company's greatest asset, until the day it isn't. When the business environment changes, culture can anchor a company in historical positions when dramatic pivots are required. For example, legacy cultures are paralyzed by disruption, whereas start-up cultures thrive on disruption.

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