PROFILE

Gary Sankary

Retail Industry Strategy, Esri

I am a 45 year veteran of the retail industry. My career started in the back room of my father’s shoe store. His advice to me when I went to college, “Don’t go into retail”.

After 27 years in executive leadership at Target, I now work for Esri. Here, I get to survey the retail industry holistically. I evangelize location intelligence and help retailers unlock the local insights the need to better engage customers, preform local market analysis and make key decision about store and facility optimization.

Everything in retail happens in a specific place for a reason. Location intelligence can help you understand that reason.

To learn more, visit: esri.com

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  • Posted on: 05/13/2021

    How high can thredUP grow?

    I think this could be a very successful business model. It's certainly spot on trend, it's about sustainability and re-use -- attributes that are very important in the market today, especially in younger segments. The big hurdle in my mind, and they seem to be handling it well at the moment, is their supply chain. How do they continue ensure a reliable flow of desirable products to meet demand? Not every used garment is created equal.
  • Posted on: 05/13/2021

    Simon says J.C. Penney is ready to become a 21st century retailer

    J.C. Penney have failed to differentiate themselves in the market. Their business has atrophied for years, now they've burned through the last of their reserves. New investments will put off the inevitable for a while, but simply reshuffling brands is not enough to right this ship. I admire Simon's optimism but I have not seen the kind of significant changes needed at J.C. Penney to give me much hope.
  • Posted on: 05/11/2021

    Simon CEO says Americans are experiencing ‘euphoria’ as they return to malls

    Consumers certainly want to get out of the house and socialize and interact. Whether or not that means they want to shop and spend remains to be seen. Changes in consumer behaviors towards unified commerce models massively accelerated during the pandemic. I don't think we'll see them step back from that. Before the pandemic regional shopping centers were in trouble. The issues that were in play then are still a factor now that we're getting back to normal. I also think that the trends in shopping centers that were taking off before the pandemic are now ready to explode. Those centers that have updated formats to include more entertainment options, dining experiences and engaging attractions, we're already seeing huge surges in traffic. I expect this will continue for a while to come.
  • Posted on: 05/10/2021

    Can associate dress codes support in-store social distancing?

    This is a bad idea. I am 100 percent in favor of implementing practices that prevent the spread of COVID-19. Target, in Minnesota anyway, has announced that they will still require employees and guests to wear masks in the store, even after the mask mandate is retired on May 28. I have no issue with that and assume the safest measures for all employees and customers is always the best idea. But marking employees by having them wear distinguishing clothing that denotes vaccine status? That's way beyond the pale. A previous colleague in this space already cited "Scarlet Letter" which is exactly where my mind went. Last I checked medical records were private, this surely does not align with the that idea (or law). On a side note, as a former store team member, if you told me that once I got vaccinated I'd have to get more dressed up to come to work, I would claim to be un-vaccinated regardless of my actual status. Feels like a "no good deed goes unpunished" situation.
  • Posted on: 05/10/2021

    Can associate dress codes support in-store social distancing?

    You beat me to the idea of it being like putting a scarlet letter on the employee.
  • Posted on: 05/10/2021

    Why is omnichannel sales attribution still a problem?

    This is a great example of a legacy process that is not aligned with modern consumer behaviors or supporting technology. Retailers are striving to engage with customers across multiple channels through the entire purchase journey. Macy's and the union need to come together and find a creative way for employees to support unified commerce models enthusiastically and at the same time feel incented and be rewarded by providing excellent service.
  • Posted on: 05/07/2021

    What digital tools can help manage increasingly disrupted supply chains?


    Perfect response Suresh. I strongly advocate for a capability-based approach to technology enablement.
  • Posted on: 05/07/2021

    What digital tools can help manage increasingly disrupted supply chains?


    Without the infrastructure to capture and analyze the data that describes the movement, location, and velocity of assets including inventory and transport assets, none of the other capabilities for supply chain management are possible. I would put sensing and technology like the ability to build a digital twin to do what-iffing and scenario modeling to be very important.
  • Posted on: 05/06/2021

    Will a new subscription program make Circle K a daily stop for members?

    If customers are already stopping at Circle K for their morning coffee this is a great way to incent them to continue to do so. I think the overall traffic increases will be modest, but I do expect to see growth in incremental sales. Customers may be more willing to pick up another item because they perceive the coffee as being "free." This is the time for Circle K to make this move. At the moment these schemes are rare in the market. If it works that will mostly likely change pretty fast. Kudos to Circle K for trying this.
  • Posted on: 05/06/2021

    How did Crocs ever become cool and how long will it stay that way?

    Crocs has done a great job identifying trends in pop culture and finding a way to interpret those trends in their products. It doesn't hurt that they are affordable, comfortable, different and already have a brand identity that they can build on.
  • Posted on: 05/05/2021

    Are retailers making it too tough for seniors to shop online?

    Simple always wins. Great points Ryan.
  • Posted on: 05/05/2021

    Remote work is rough on big retail districts

    There has a been a massive shift in traffic away from traditional downtown hubs. I don't believe it's going to ever go back to the way things were in the "before times." This doesn't mean that the business went away, it means it moved, the market changed. The speed of the change may be unprecedented but the result is the same from a retail perspective -- loss of business. I would argue that these sorts of changes happen all the time, only at a much slower pace. I would also suggest that when they do happen slowly, they are often even more difficult for retailers to track and react too. A neighborhood may change over the course of years and if a retailer isn't able to understand and adapt, they won't survive. This really speaks to the importance of being able to track and analyze the variables in a market that drive changes in consumer behaviors and traffic at a precise local level. Change in a market is a continuous process. The lesson from the pandemic is applying tools and resources to understand the impact of change, and the ability for retailers to be nimble and adjust tactics where they can to react. Don't assume that things are going back to the way they were.
  • Posted on: 05/04/2021

    Kroger takes flight with drone delivery test

    I think the tipping point will come when drone flights are fully autonomous and will not require a pilot, as the article implies. I also feel that autonomous devilry vehicles make more sense in the long run for final mile fulfillment. Weight limits, the single out and back delivery from origin to destination and back will significantly hamper the ability for companies to use drones at scale. I could see certain items that are highly time sensitive and lightweight -- prescriptions come to mind. I expect most of my deliveries in the future to come from autonomous, self-piloted vehicles that can handle multiple deliveries on one run. Maybe with a drone to get from the street to my porch. Like I said, in the future.
  • Posted on: 05/04/2021

    Will CVS make a breakthrough as it expands in-store mental health services?

    I'm sorry, your comment perpetrates that stigma you are calling out. I think there are areas of mental health and counseling that CVS customers would be interested in -- smoking cessation and weight management come to mind. For more serious conditions, just like I wouldn't go to CVS for an EKG or surgery, I wouldn't go there for a serious mental health problem. That leaves a TON of room for more maintenance and routine care that probably don't require an ER or Crisis Unit.
  • Posted on: 05/04/2021

    Will CVS make a breakthrough as it expands in-store mental health services?

    I think this is great that CVS has recognized a critical need for Mental Health services in our communities. They deserve a lot of credit for helping to make them more accessible. From a business sense, demand will dictate if these services are successful or not. The investment CVS has made in many stores to build out their clinical services is impressive. It gives them a lot more credibility, in my opinion, when compared to other stores that have a small, converted closet next to the pharmacy as an exam room. Clearly CVS is banking on a future where their neighborhood locations look more like health center than a retail store. I do wonder a bit about counseling services. Typically these require a different type space than a clinical exam room. I also wonder how patients will feel about privacy. But if they can market the right services, these are patients who's treatments involve several sessions over time. It makes sense to me as a way to be more engaged with their customers and pull marketshare away from competitors.

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