Joe Skorupa

Influencer, Consultant and Strategic Advisor

After spending 20 years at RIS News, Joe currently does consulting work for a number of leading retail technology and advisory companies. Prior to joining RIS, Joe spent 10 years at Popular Mechanics during the birth of the worldwide web and moved to San Francisco during the height of the dot-com boom to earn his stripes on the frontlines of early-stage e-commerce and online technologies.

Joe is the Editor-at-Large and featured blogger for RIS News (, which was named the best B2B retail website by Folio Magazine in 2018 and 2019. Joe’s blog, Retail Insight was named the best B2B retail blog by Folio Magazine in 2019.

  • Posted on: 08/27/2021

    Do retailers need a chief data officer?

    Yes to the question about a strong need for the position. Both Walmart and Target have chief data officers, which makes a strong case for the position. Target is particularly interesting because it heavily invested in its data capabilities to create 10 different billion-dollar in-house brands, something I believe no other retailer has done.
  • Posted on: 08/20/2021

    Will Amazon department stores spell trouble for Kohl’s?

    Legacy retailers invented omnichannel, not Amazon. Amazon arguably invented e-commerce at scale and is now, since it began opening stores and purchasing Whole Foods, catching up to omnichannel. This new, larger Amazon footprint is another experiment, another extension into omnichannel. Legacy retailers had a 10-year head start on Amazon and were just too "successful" (in their limited vision) at the time to move as aggressively and seize the opportunity. You could say legacy retailers were blindsided by Amazon, but it all took place in front of their noses while they slow-walked omnichannel.
  • Posted on: 08/06/2021

    Should retail prepare for a vaccine resistant virus?

    Retailers should recognize they are in the midst of a fight for the lives of their customers. There should be no aggressive steps held back in reserve for when it gets worse, because if it gets worse and the virus mutates, we will be in this national economic mess for another two years or more or whatever time it will take to create, test and distribute a new round of vaccines. Retailers and other businesses should require their workers to be vaccinated now to reduce and eliminate a pandemic of the unvaccinated, which feeds evolution of mutations.
  • Posted on: 08/05/2021

    Kroger seeks to ghost up take-home and meal delivery sales with dark kitchens

    This is a smart, on-trend, revenue extension for Kroger that will be a long-term winner, especially in poorly served markets that currently rely on convenience and dollar stores for take-out meals.
  • Posted on: 07/08/2021

    Will in-person conferences make a comeback after a year of virtual shows?

    I can see a vendor and attendee split on the benefits of in-person trade shows. In-person, vendors get 100% of the attention of the people they are talking to, which is not the case for virtual trade shows. End-user attendees to virtual trade shows get to learn important information and multi-task or even if they don't multi-task during a presentation, they can quickly jump back into work instead of returning home from a trip with a huge backlog of tasks and unread email. I think virtual trade events on feature-rich tech platforms will evolve and improve while in-person shows will not return to pre-pandemic levels.
  • Posted on: 06/23/2021

    Forget digital first. Stores first, digital second is the future of luxury retail.

    You nailed it, Ken. It's a huge mistake to think you can be store-centric or digital-centric. It's both and the right balance will depend on each specific brand and its customers.
  • Posted on: 06/16/2021

    Boxed is taking bulk e-commerce public

    The Boxed story continues its amazing record of success. Keys are a tech-first approach, subscription model, focus on customer satisfaction, focus on company culture, working hard to create an engaged workforce, expanding at a controlled rate, and a visionary founder. This is a retail company easy to root for.
  • Posted on: 06/15/2021

    How can retailers best navigate supply chain turbulence?

    This is another example of the retail supply chain being more like a steel point-to-point cable instead of a flexible chain. Suppliers have done a great job selling retailers on the idea that creating deep exclusive partnerships (usually located continents away) is better than creating a network of suppliers that includes multiple alternatives. Exclusive partners won't help if they can't produce or deliver. Retailers need a fully digital supply chain ecosystem that can optimize manufacturers, suppliers and distributors (shipping, too) as situations change. The retail supply chain has other problems to discuss another day, but the current situation is extreme and is likely to last throughout the year.
  • Posted on: 06/15/2021

    Amazon scales its Just Walk Out tech for a full-size grocery store

    The costs for Just Walk Out technology will come down and then Whole Foods and other grocers will make it widely available. It's just a matter of time and there will be no small amount of difficulty. The key is that customers love it and what customers want retailers supply. Retailers will learn to love the labor savings, data gathering, and real-time operations control. It's another of the many signs we are seeing of the age of autonomous technology in retail kicking into high gear.
  • Posted on: 06/07/2021

    Walmart gives associates free phones and a mobile work app

    This is all about employee empowerment and will be a big win both for Walmart and its employees. 2021 will be remembered as the year of a tipping point -- when retail employees became valued team members as opposed to a disposable (60 percent average turnover rate) minimum wage workforce. Some people missed this point in last week's discussion about the Best Buy employee empowerment plan due to how the discussion questions neglected to mention the larger goals. No one can miss this point about Walmart's employee empowerment plan. It is massive.
  • Posted on: 06/01/2021

    Best Buy puts multi-taskers to work

    Bob and Ryan, I don't think the framing of this discussion fully represents what Best Buy is actually doing. Delivery is just a small part. The bigger part is providing education and training so that employees can become certified to perform tasks outside their primary job function and earn a different hourly wage depending on the task performed. Retention is the main goal, not delivery.
  • Posted on: 06/01/2021

    Best Buy puts multi-taskers to work

    A perfect storm of rising wages, a tight labor market, and competition from the gig economy has triggered a tectonic shift in retail, and Best Buy's plan is just one example. Retailers have begun to rethink the role of the workforce as being more than a disposable resource with a 60 percent turnover rate. New goals include improving retention, productivity, engagement and customer satisfaction. This is the future of work in retail.
  • Posted on: 05/18/2021

    Whole Foods goes all-in on centralized buying

    I think Amazon's point with Whole Foods is to make stores more digital or omni-commerce. Local products do not have to be exclusively in the store. They can be ordered and delivered to homes, which is the biggest trend in grocery over the last 15 months. There are a large number of local farms and suppliers signing up with new platforms that deliver to homes. Amazon/Whole Foods is joining this trend by digitizing its stores to include more local options and not necessarily stifling them by adding traditional centralizing. Amazon doesn't do anything in a traditional way.
  • Posted on: 05/18/2021

    Is Amazon the safest place to work in retail?

    Smart move by Amazon on many levels. Investing in workers is one of the major unheralded trends in retail today and represents a sea change for the industry. It involves more than safety and increasing wages. Research data shows the top category for retail tech investment today is in workforce management and engagement tools. My recent blog examined this major shift.
  • Posted on: 05/13/2021

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

    Penney has missed every major trend in the past 10 years or longer. Penney has always taken one step forward and two steps back (10 steps back during the Ron Johnson era). So it will hang on and live a Zombie existence like Sears, undead and delivering some modicum of financial benefit to a few stakeholders, but having no real impact on shoppers or the retail industry as a whole.

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