John Karolefski

Editor-in-Chief, CPGmatters

John Karolefski is the publisher and editor-in-chief of, a twice-monthly ezine that focuses on building brands through retail. He is also the executive director of the Shopper Technology Institute (STI), the only trade organization for providers of technologies and solutions that engage shoppers and analyze their behavior. STI produces and hosts the annual LEAD Marketing Conference which focuses on Loyalty, Engagement, Analytics and Digital applications.

Karolefski, the former senior editor of Supermarket News, is the co-author of three books: “Consumer-Centric Category Management,” “All About Sampling and Demonstrations,” and “TARGET 2000: The Rising Ride of TechnoMarketing.”

  • Posted on: 03/19/2019

    Can Walmart lead the fight to eliminate plastic waste?

    Walmart's plan to reduce the plastic waste of its private brands is nice. Good for them. Maybe other retailers will follow. But I would be more impressed if Walmart led the way by eliminating plastic bags at checkout.
  • Posted on: 03/18/2019

    Can location intelligence provide a lifeline for retailers?

    I disagree with the post that predicted beacons in-store and elsewhere that send offers the shopper agrees to receive on her smartphone is the way of the future. This has already been tried in grocery stores and failed to catch on. Shoppers may initially agree to accept the ping of a special offer. "Hey, that's a cool idea!" But they will change their minds once they are pinged to death in the aisles.
  • Posted on: 03/11/2019

    Will other cities follow Philly in banning cashless stores?

    "Cash on the barrelhead" is a practice that comes from the days when upended barrels served as both seats and tables in bars and stores. In other words, customers had to pay for their drinks and goods in full at the time of purchase by putting money on top of the barrel. The barrels are gone, but the concept still serves those not blessed with bountiful resources who need to pay in cash because they don't have credit or debit cards.
  • Posted on: 03/08/2019

    Will new Scan & Go tech turbocharge Sam’s checkouts?

    This "convenience" may be cool at first. But I have never believed that encouraging shoppers to do the work of scanning item after item enhances the shopping experience. In the long run, this convenience will be discontinued.
  • Posted on: 03/07/2019

    Where are grocers failing on in-store experience?

    The area of human contact may be the most important of all. People respond to pleasant, well-informed store associates, be they clerks, sampling folks, customer service people, cashiers, or others. Such contact makes for a friendly and pleasant shopping experience. Ironically, grocers are moving away from human contact with their interest in and testing of cashier-less stores, robots in the aisles, robot brand ambassadors, more self-service kiosks, and who knows what other techno-nonsense to be unveiled in the future. When you lose the human touch, you lose the shopper.
  • Posted on: 02/25/2019

    Tide to roll out laundry cleaning service nationwide

    Great idea! It's a logical extension of the Tide brand for a new generation of younger consumers who will use this service more than other demographic groups. The Tide brand keeps getting stronger.
  • Posted on: 02/22/2019

    Why is shelf management getting short shrift in supermarkets?

    Too much time and money is spent on all the components of e-commerce, which -- of course -- is important. But more important are the results of a recent survey saying that 87 percent of consumers prefer grocery shopping in stores. They say they want a satisfying shopping experience. That surely includes product availability, which is the result of efficient and consistent shelf management. That is where grocers should be devoting more time and money.
  • Posted on: 02/14/2019

    America has too many retail stores

    In one sense, many marketplaces have too many supermarkets; that is, when two or three traditional chain stores are within a few miles of each other. They essentially cancel each other out. It's another situation if one chain store, an ethnic independent, a Trader Joe's and Aldi compete in the same locale. That gives consumers a choice of shopping experience and product assortments.
  • Posted on: 02/13/2019

    Can Whole Foods’ business afford higher prices?

    Obviously, Whole Foods has less room to raise prices than other grocers because of recent promises to lower prices. Shoppers notice and appreciate such promises. Raising prices across the board would diminish the brand and reduce shopper loyalty, so Whole Foods will do so selectively. Money is money, after all.
  • Posted on: 02/11/2019

    Are apps and voice assistants the keys to e-grocery adoption?

    Here's a simple prediction: Yes, grocery apps and voice assistants will play "some" role in elevating the online grocery experience in the years to come, but -- it will be a LONG time before that happens. It will be be a generational change, and it might not happen until the generation after Generation Z.
  • Posted on: 02/05/2019

    Walgreens tests tech that sort of recognizes you in-store

    This is just the latest example of Technology Gone Wild in mass market stores. Shoppers will not appreciate this invasion of privacy, especially if it is explained to them. Peek-a-boo! I see you!
  • Posted on: 01/18/2019

    NRF: Would digital experiences be even better with a human touch?

    Maintaining the human touch as technology invades the store is key. Co-creation makes a lot of sense, but it won't be deployed by every retailer. It is something for the big boys (and girls) with the resources to executive properly.
  • Posted on: 01/17/2019

    NRF: Is the time right for retailers and brands to take political stands?

    I can accept brands taking stand on social issues. Levi Strauss's Chip Bergh spoke about his company's “long history of not being afraid to take stands on social issues.” But political issues should be avoided. In the photo atop this RetwilWire story, Bergh is seen shaking hands with Snoop Dogg at the NRF Foundation Gala 2019. As many people know -- but perhaps not Bergh -- Mr. Dogg shot a clown dressed as President Trump in a music video. No matter what your political leanings, such a video is plain wrong. I would not be surprised if Mr. Dogg was visited by the Secret Service or FBI.
  • Posted on: 01/17/2019

    NRF: Will grocers be ready for 2030’s smart future?

    A smart grocery story will depend on shoppers using a smartphone while shopping. I have read many surveys saying that a growing number of consumers use their smartphones in the store -- checking a shopping list, scanning SmartLabels in packages, getting pinged by beacons, looking up nutritional info, etc. In my experience, that is fake news. I am in stores all the time around the country. I never see anybody using a smartphone while shopping. Never. I have even asked several food execs if they see anyone using a smartphone. They sheepishly say, no, and ask me not to report their names. Not to say it will never happen. I believe it is generational. Maybe by 2030 the smartphone will used routinely in grocery stores. Then again, maybe not.
  • Posted on: 01/16/2019

    NRF: Roving robots report for work at all Giant Foods’ stores

    Robots in some supermarkets are a novelty and cool nowadays, but it will be instructive to see if they will roll out to more stores and become a permanent addition to a store's staff. I see many negatives and issues with robots. I laugh when I read that robots will at first be used to detect spills and breakages. Are so many supermarkets around the country awash with broken glass and sauces on the floor of supermarket aisles that a robot army is called for? Robots to detect out-of-stocks and mis-priced products sounds like a good idea. They will replace workers who have done this before, but, hey, these workers will be given other more important tasks in the store. So the grocer -- already operating with thin margins and facing considerable retail competition -- is adding perhaps considerable costs and nobody will be laid off? Huh? Then there are issues like robot maintenance, vandalism from pranksters, aisle congestion, intimidation of the elderly, etc. Technology is great when it makes sense. But I say invest in people. Grocers who want to reduce out-of-stocks, clean up occasional breakages and spills, and whatever should hire more people. Heinen's, the successful regional grocer in northeast Ohio, is celebrating its 90th anniversary. That's where I shop in the Cleveland suburbs. No robots, no self-checkout terminals, and no long lines at checkout because there are always plenty of cashiers. The staff is friendly and helpful when needed. Great customer service with a well-trained and abundant staff always wins.

Contact John

  • Apply to be a BrainTrust Panelist

  • Please briefly describe your qualifications — specifically, your expertise and experience in the retail industry.
  • By submitting this form, I give you permission to forward my contact information to designated members of the RetailWire staff.

    See RetailWire's privacy policy for more information about what data we collect and how it is used.