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: 03/01/2021

    Automated checkout ‘will be everywhere’ sooner rather than later

    Agreed that alcohol, tobacco, prescription drugs, CDB, cannabis-derived products and guns are not candidates for Just Walk Out technology. Never thought they would be.
  • Posted on: 03/01/2021

    Do rivals need to follow Costco’s minimum wage lead right now?

    Totally agree, Mark. Until recently, retail has historically counted on minimum wage workers to make its business model work. "Counted on" is nice way to put it. Costco and Target and a few others have shown this principle is out of date, just as the Federal minimum wage standard is out of date. It is time for the retail industry, at least the dominant segment of mega-billion-dollar corporations, to figure out a business model that pays a fair, living wage. Costco will force them to do so.
  • Posted on: 03/01/2021

    Automated checkout ‘will be everywhere’ sooner rather than later

    Automated checkout technology is perfect for convenience stores, airport stores and 24/7 gas stations, so we will see this technology continue to spread in retail. New stores will be designed around Just Walk Out technology and many retail segments will give it a try. However it is at the peak of its hype cycle right now and still two to three years away from broad, ambitious roll outs by large retail chains outside of convenience -- even by Amazon!
  • Posted on: 02/25/2021

    Are Americans ready to do some good old-fashioned ‘revenge shopping’?

    In 2020, TJX missed a spike that registered 6.7 percent YoY growth in retail sales, as recently reported by NRF. I'm also glad they weren't hurt as bad as might be expected for a company without an omnichannel strategy. And I'm glad they go their own way by investing big money in hundreds of smart buyers (I've heard the number is nearly a thousand), which is as old-school as it gets in retail. However, I'd be happier to learn TJX has elevated omnichannel (e.g. web channels and associated functions) to the top of their priority list as well as investments in CRM, AI and digital transformation of supply chain and merchandising functions. I guess it's kind of fun to see one big company go all in on old-school retail and survive, but I wouldn't recommend it.
  • Posted on: 02/24/2021

    Best Buy is handing out bonuses, paid time off for vaccines and pink slips. Huh?

    It's just short of a miracle that Best Buy is the lone thriving retailer in its competitive niche when the products it sells are found everywhere. Best Buy deserves credit for making smart decisions to evolve its business model to meet an ongoing series of existential challenges. Next steps for Best Buy will probably be automated warehouses, dark stores for delivery only, and smaller footprint stores to name a few. Each of these will require changes in its workforce. I think we can agree that no one likes to be laid off, so it is not surprising complaints are being heard and are probably being managed by HR.
  • Posted on: 02/18/2021

    Is suburban retail (malls, too) primed for a comeback?

    The Simon Property Group may do fine, because it is concentrated in A locations and is aggressively pursuing non-retail tenants to maintain high occupancy levels and revenue. However "malls" in general will continue their downward slide. And don't expect "experiential retailing" to be a savior. The biggest, most farcical example of "experiential retailing," the American Dream Mall, was the centerpiece of a recent WSJ article titled, "Malls Spent Billions on Theme Parks to Woo Shoppers. It Made Matters Worse."
  • Posted on: 02/10/2021

    Does Walgreens’ nursing home experience portend a slow retail recovery?

    Same problem here in California and specifically my county. To date, my county is running out of vaccinations at such a rate that they have not yet opened it to those older than 65. Those who have reserved vaccination dates are getting them in March at the earliest. No reluctance here.
  • Posted on: 02/05/2021

    The retail apocalypse didn’t happen last year, despite the coverage

    Coresight got its store closings estimate wrong. Those incensed by the term "retail apocalypse" are wrong, too. The point hinges on what we mean by retail? If we mean retail revenue, then retail is doing fine. If we mean retail brand names/companies, then retail is not doing fine. Bankruptcies are at high levels. Mall and store closings are at high levels. Retail real estate values are plummeting. Yes, there are a handful of very successful retailers, but these are overwhelmed by the underperforming supermajority -- department stores, luxury and the massive apparel segment. Call it a paradigm shift or a Jurassic moment or whatever, but to not recognize it is denying what's taking place.
  • Posted on: 01/20/2021

    Is My Pillow being ‘cancelled’ or is its CEO trashing the business all on his own?

    He saw a firestorm and walked right into it. Most companies have HR guidelines that spell out what top executives can/cannot say or do regarding controversial topics. Apparently My Pillow does not have one that applies to their CEO so it will have to take the consequences of Lindell's self-immolation.
  • Posted on: 01/13/2021

    Will contactless Hudson Nonstop concept stores take off in airports?

    Going to be a winner. I can see this concept working at self-serve gas stations, too.
  • Posted on: 01/12/2021

    Will becoming a fintech powerhouse make Walmart an even more formidable retailer?

    Walmart doesn't need to become a fintech powerhouse to gain benefits from its venture with Ribbit. What it will gain is serving its broad customer base (and huge employee base) with financial services that are currently offered through third-parties. If anyone has ever had a retail experience serviced by Synchrony Bank (used by many retailers) you will clearly see there is a gap that needs to be filled. And, of course, Walmart will be able to cut out the fees of the middleman.
  • Posted on: 01/07/2021

    Retailers call on Trump to end the national chaos he created

    Totally agree. They were willing enablers.
  • Posted on: 01/05/2021

    Albertsons ditching in-house drivers to deliver online orders

    It is debatable whether third-party delivery is cheaper than in-house delivery per order due to fees charged by third-party services. What is not debatable is the wide range of extras offered by third-party services that make them attractive: rapid deployment, no-limit scaling, no HR management of delivery staff, no vehicle maintenance or insurance costs, access to detailed data on customers, access to data about SKU sales, access to the third-parties' platform for promotion, access to the third-parties' route planning capability, access to managing trade promotion dollars offered by suppliers through the platform, and more. For large enterprises these extras add up to big money saved and/or earned.
  • Posted on: 12/17/2020

    Is there a secret sauce to Kroger’s online success?

    Great points, Shelley. Love the "battleship" description of Macy's. Kroger's secret sauce: 1. Massive tech/digital/omnichannel investment that started several years ago (so different than the usual grocer mentality), 2. Willingness to put money into experimentation, innovation and leading-edge initiatives (Ocado), and 3. Fearless and effective leadership to move fast (the Covid-inspired Blueprint for Success, curbside pickup, scaling e-commerce, etc.).
  • Posted on: 11/30/2020

    How will Tony Hsieh’s legacy live on at Zappos?

    I met Tony several times when he came to conferences where I was acting as host and moderator. Zappos was small at the time but clearly a brilliant concept headed for success. Tony came to learn from peers in those days and brought a few people with him from his company. He was quiet and hung around in the back of the meeting rooms listening, learning, blending in with other retailers. He was clearly a people person and his humanity subsequently came through in every aspect of his management style and business philosophy, which is rare. I was shocked to learn of his death. I think his example, while impossible to replicate, will have a growing impact on how businesses can break down the barrier separates financial goals from their impact on humanity as a whole.

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