PROFILE

George Anderson

Editor-in-Chief, RetailWire
George Anderson has extensive executive-level experience in editorial, marketing and sales in the advertising, retail/wholesale and print, video and digital media industries. Mr. Anderson has served as the editorial voice of RetailWire since the site's founding in 2002 and has been interviewed by a wide variety of media outlets including the Charlotte Observer, Providence Journal, MarketWatch, NPR, Wall Street Journal Radio and others. Previously, Mr. Anderson served as president and creative director of the IdeaBeat Creative division of IdeaBeat.com. His duties included creating Online Profit Guides and Company Spotlights recognized as "Best of the Net" by About.com for a blue-chip list of consumer goods manufacturers and technology companies. Before joining IdeaBeat, Mr. Anderson created a successful sales and marketing communications and custom publishing company called Not Your Average Agency. Mr. Anderson's experience includes eight years with Progressive Grocer Associates/Maclean Hunter Media, where he held a variety of marketing services and sales management roles. His assignments included work in the company's four divisions including Progressive Grocer, Frozen Food Age, Retail Technology, and Retail Insights (Supermarket Insights and Convenience Store Insights video division.) For editorial inquiries, please contact George at: RetailWire 116 South Union Avenue Cranford, NJ 07016 908-325-2499
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  • Posted on: 09/14/2021

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

    I found myself having to turn off Kohl's communications a few years back as I seem to get a new promotional communication seconds after deleting the one that came before it. Do you think Kohl's is doing enough to set itself off from a brand advertising and sales promotion standpoint?
  • Posted on: 09/13/2021

    Is the government’s vaccination mandate plan good for retail?

    Several points to address here: 1. There are legitimate medical reasons that some people, a very small percentage, can not receive the COVID-19 vaccine. I think this is largely a non-issue and know from personal experience of cases where MDs have sent letters to employers providing the basis for exemption from the vaccine. 2. Medical authorities have also found that those previously infected have less resistance to the virus than those receiving vaccines so having had it once does not provide a reason for being exempt from a shot. Remember the novel coronavirus changes and booster shots or reconfigured vaccines may be required to keep pace with variants going forward just as we have done with the flu virus. 3. The likelihood that another variant will replace the Delta one is real and thinking that somehow the pandemic is all but over as cases drop in the short-term is what helped lead to our most recent surge. 4. Vaccines are the only current viable way to significantly reduce infection rates and cut the numbers of severe illnesses and deaths from COVID-19.
  • Posted on: 09/13/2021

    Is the government’s vaccination mandate plan good for retail?

    I don't think there were many retailers who started off thinking that mandates were the way to go. That was a position I shared months back because I expected that the American public would step up for their own good as well as the safety of family, friends and others to be vaccinated as they had done throughout history with new vaccines such as polio. The reality, we now know, is that 80 million people have chosen for various reasons not to get vaccinated against COVID-19 and the reality is this: They are getting ill, passing the virus along to others and creating a healthcare crisis that is causing fellow Americans to die. It seems daily we read about cases of people on their deathbeds lamenting their failure to be immunized. A report this weekend spoke of an Alabama man who died from a coronary issue because he could not been seen by more than 40 hospitals because COVID-19 cases were overwhelming their resources. The Supreme Court ruled more than a hundred years ago that vaccine mandates are constitutional. States, including those whose GOP governors are vowing to fight the mandate, require students in public schools to be vaccinated against a wide variety of diseases. The Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) gives the Labor Department the latitude to enact temporary standards to safeguard workers from being exposed to outside elements that could put them at medical risk. Retailers should welcome this action since it takes the onus off of them. They should support the policy and take immediate action if they have not done so already. Life and business returning to some semblance of pre-pandemic normal requires we get COVID-19 under control. That will not happen without widespread immunity and that will require mass vaccinations to happen.
  • Posted on: 09/09/2021

    Will shoppers flock to or avoid stores for Halloween and Christmas?

    Did you actually read what I wrote? You've been in retail a long time. You've never seen a shift totally screwed up by people with the flu? I get that you have your story and you're sticking to it, but please. As to retailer's limiting the news, you do realize we live in a world where many people get their information from sources other than actual news organizations that vet the stories the stories they publish? Limiting or controlling news went out the window well before Scott McNealy broke the news that we don't have any privacy and we should get over it.
  • Posted on: 09/09/2021

    Will shoppers flock to or avoid stores for Halloween and Christmas?

    It's a nuanced subject as vaccines by their very nature continue to change. I think that's the point that public health professionals and infectious disease experts have been making since the get-go. Blaming the media is akin to ignoring advice from medical authorities who have adapted their guidance based on developing realities from the virus. It could be that the pandemic is with us for an extended period of time. That doesn't mean life comes to a stop. If Americans and people in other countries get vaccinated and engage in safe practices (wear masks, stay home when not feeling well, etc.) then perhaps one day we'll find that the coronavirus is no more concerning than the flu. BTW, the flu, which was pretty much nonexistent last year as people wore masks and practiced social distancing, is expected to rebound this year. It's not as deadly as COVID-19 but it can also have serious consequences for the elderly and other at-risk individuals.
  • Posted on: 09/09/2021

    Will shoppers flock to or avoid stores for Halloween and Christmas?

    Thanks, Bob. Have you seen any research to that end? Everything dropping in my inbox for several years now has forecast that online will continue to grab a larger percentage of total Christmas dollar volume.
  • Posted on: 09/09/2021

    Will shoppers flock to or avoid stores for Halloween and Christmas?

    I think most agree that sales are almost certainly to be up during Halloween and Christmas. Do you expect that a greater percentage of overall purchases will be made in stores than they were doing these two holiday periods in 2019 or do you see further drift to online?
  • Posted on: 09/09/2021

    Will shoppers flock to or avoid stores for Halloween and Christmas?

    The percentage of Christmas sales being made online was increasing prior to the pandemic with Amazon.com grabbing the biggest portion of that pie. I would expect that consumers will opt to shop from home in even greater numbers for Christmas this year as many create new holiday traditions around gift buying. The situation for Halloween is less clear in my mind with the Delta variant continuing to lurk. We should know in a couple of weeks as huge school systems in the Northeast and elsewhere send kids back to their classrooms this week. All bets are off if we see large numbers of cases spike along with serious illnesses and deaths as we saw in Florida and elsewhere.
  • Posted on: 08/25/2021

    Email marketing drives sales results and sometimes drives customers away

    I've increasingly found that I give my mobile number to retailers and brands that I really want to hear from (a very small number) and everyone else gets my email. Most of those get trashed without opening. I think text, assuming the privilege of access is not overdone (yes, I know what happens when you assume), will increase in viability as a means of communication.
  • Posted on: 08/19/2021

    Has Target ‘only begun to scratch the surface of what’s possible’ for its business?

    There's a lot to like about Target and, speaking personally, I've shopped in the chain's stores for decades. I like it so much, I want it to do better. I can speak to several pain points as a customer that Target could address and, in turn, generate even higher net promoter scores, sales and profits for the chain. The first is grocery inventory and space management. The chain has made improvements, but I know from personal experience as well as numerous reports from others that in-stock positions are typically well below what you would find in other stores with similar traffic. Even before recent remodels, for example, it was common to go into local stores here in New Jersey and see whole frozen doors with no more than two or three boxes or bags on the shelves. Other obviously quick selling products in the refrigerated case are given one facing and inspire a happy dance when one or two of the item can be found. That's sad. The second challenge is related to its pickup services, quite frequently tied to grocery. How is it that today you can order something for in-store pickup but not get it for Drive Up, when the distance is no more than a 100 feet or so further away? Target made a semi-big deal about expanding the number of grocery items available for pickup but reports I've received have been less than glowing in this one particular area. Another pain point for customers is an increasing reliance on self-checkout with the typical experience being painful if you have to scan more than four items. The space for individual checkouts is quite small and long lines form quickly. One associate assigned to troubleshoot six self-checkouts at a time is too few when multiple issues pop up at the same time. The last point, it seems to me, is due to some degree to staffing problems. At least four times in recent months I've arrived at the front end of a Target store after a 30-minute+ shopping trip to find a long line ahead of 20 customers ahead of me because only one cashier-operated checkout is open and people who shouldn't have to self-checkout are doing so in an effort to get out of the store. Early on in the pandemic, customers might let this sort of thing slide. Now, Target's "guests" are just made to fell less welcomed with every experience like this.
  • Posted on: 08/18/2021

    Should grocery stores retire the ethnic aisle?

    It may be that the current system with its various limitations is the best designed by humans, but the quest for continuous improvement, it seems to me, demands that retailers try to create an even better shopping experience than the ones they provide now. As much as many consumers love their local food stores - Wegmans, H-E-B, Trader Joe's, et al - there aren't too many times when you hear shoppers saying that there is nothing they wouldn't change. Stores have been merchandised for years primarily based on the concerns of operations. There are valid reasons for making many of the choices that have been made and most of those are tied to reducing costs and making it easier to pile products high on shelves very quickly. In an age of increasing demand for personalized behavior, however, perhaps it is time to reevaluate space and design decisions to start with the consumer and go from there. Major revamps will mean that stores must communicate why changes were made and provide a clear map/instructions on how to shop the store. The learning curve will be much shorter if exciting product discoveries are made along the way, Similar challenges faced shoppers going online for years. Many grocery customers have turned to sites to order food for the first time in the past year+. There have been bumps and grumbling, but most were overcome with patience and experience. The same could hold true for new ways of setting up stores. If pilots aren't supported by results, we've all learned about the term fast fail.
  • Posted on: 08/18/2021

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

    Walgreens' best bet is for its regular customers to adopt this card. As others have pointed out, there is a lot of options for households to use cash-back or other credit cards with incentives. These, at least the couple we use for our purchases, are with those retailers where we were already doing a lot of shopping before signing up for a card. The downside to rewards for cardholders, however, is that high interest rates are charged for payments not made in full.
  • Posted on: 08/18/2021

    Convenience stores were the real winners of the Tokyo Olympics

    One thought that kept going through my mind many years ago in a visit to Tokyo was, "Why don't they have stores like this near me?" I've heard the same reaction from anyone I know that has visited Japan. Neil's points about Japanese culture and real estate are spot on, but I still think that a konbini-like approach and product selection would work extremely well in upscale suburbs as well as cities. I found the konbini to be an upgrade over most bodegas I've visited over the years in New York. This is primarily due to the quality and selection of food choices I encountered but also because prices were really reasonable unlike in the U.S. where c-stores typically charge a significant premium to supermarkets, for example,
  • Posted on: 08/18/2021

    Should grocery stores retire the ethnic aisle?

    Perhaps all food types should be grouped based on country-of-origin, so to speak, which would put spaghetti and related sauces in Italian instead of pasta and sauce. I know that in our home we often cook based on cuisine type so this might make sense carried across the store. Something similar has been proposed by breaking out aisles based on day-part or meal type - breakfast, lunch, dinner, dessert - or nutritional preference - gluten-free, et al. In the end, any of these types would probably mean that certain foods will be found in various parts of the store instead of one central location. The question to be tested then, is whether having smaller sections scattered in various places throughout drives more sales or those in a single larger space. Ultimately, in-store shopping experiences come down to storytelling and communication with shoppers. Some stores excel in this area but most, IMO, do not. It's time for all retailers to work on their communication skills.
  • Posted on: 08/13/2021

    Walgreens finishes its trip to the cloud and its retail journey is just beginning

    I thought reading the server statement that Walgreens was admitting that offsite processes were handled more quickly than when it was doing it all in-house. I could be wrong.

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