PROFILE

Mark Price

Chief Data Officer, CaringBridge

Mark Price is Solution Partner for Smart Data Solutions for ThreeBridge, a national technology consulting firm.  Prior to joining ThreeBridge in October of 2018, Mark was founder and managing partner and founder of LiftPoint Consulting Group, which he led for over 16 years.  He is a frequent speaker at conferences as an expert on data-driven marketing and authors articles on the same topic. Mark blogs regularly.  He is responsible for thought leadership, leading client engagements and solution development for ThreeBridge.

Prior to founding LiftPoint Consulting in 2002, Mark was the Practice Leader for Zamba Solutions, focusing on data warehousing, marketing automation and data mining. Mark’s business experience also includes brand management at General Mills and Ralston Purina.

Mark has an MBA from the Darden School of the University of Virginia and a BA from Haverford College. He lives in Eden Prairie, Minn., with his wife,  poodle and Great Dane.

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  • Posted on: 01/14/2022

    Can the metaverse solve retail’s returns challenges?

    I am dubious about the potential in the short term for the metaverse to impact consumer behavior at retail or through e-commerce, due to the slow adoption rate of artificial reality technology. That technology is likely 3 to 5 years out before there would be widespread adoption. The AI driven solutions, analyzing past purchases that consumers retain and do not return in order to better predict the fit of new items, is very promising and can be done using the technology that exists today.
  • Posted on: 01/12/2022

    More Americans are making Target runs

    Target's ability to be a "one stop shop" for consumers, with reasonable prices and some customer service, has made the difference for consumers during the holiday season. While the stores continue to have limited staffing relative to their size, the improvement of curbside delivery and strong store associate training for the associates who are there has clearly made a difference. In addition, the grocery section drives store traffic and leads to increased market basket with non-grocery items as well. Target must constantly balance assortment and design versus the high profitability and improved availability of store brands. Target has leaned heavily on store brands (easy accessible products for the broad range of appeal) with limited and very specific branded items in each category. That is the tight rope that Target must balance going forward to drive future growth.
  • Posted on: 01/11/2022

    Reality hits omnichannel retail with a hard truth

    Customers do not care who manages their experience. What customers to care about is consistency, reliability and predictability. Traditionally, when an organization farms out key responsibilities to a third-party, there are information lags between organizations, so a customer service rep from a third-party may not know about the status of a return from another third-party. As a result, the experience suffers. And it is clear that consumers blame the main brand of the purchase for everything that happens afterwards. To the extent that retailers can create a 360° view of the customer and share that with affiliate organizations, the idea of jobbing out responsibilities is a viable one. When that information breaks down, the retailer will be blamed.
  • Posted on: 01/10/2022

    Has BOPIS lost its pandemic boost?

    BOPIS has provided consumers with a sense of safety regarding the pandemic. As the pandemic stretches on, some of this safety need will wane. For consumers, BOPIS provides safety; for retailers, BOPIS provides a direct pipeline to individual consumers. During the pandemic, this group of "connected consumers" grew dramatically. It is up to retailers now to build on the value prop of BOPIS, particularly curbside. Such efforts as loyalty programs, special offers and limited time products would help to maintain that connection. However since consumer issues revolve around execution -- the first priority is to execute BOPIS successfully.
  • Posted on: 12/20/2021

    What happens when D2C brands diversify product lines?

    E-commerce companies that have built a strong brand based on a single product line should be able to successfully expand into relevant adjacencies. This is a standard maxim of marketing. The devil will be in the details. The key will be to maintain discipline, focus on the core, and make sure not to get overextended in either real estate or inventory as the product line expands.
  • Posted on: 12/17/2021

    Do retailers have a recommendation bias problem?

    The introduction of artificial intelligence into customer interactions has tremendous benefits. At the same time, it is subject to the law of unintended consequences. There are always unintended consequences. In many cases the designers of algorithms do not have ill intentions; rather, the design and the data can lead artificial intelligence to unwittingly reinforce bias and prejudice. The C-suite is not responsible for monitoring the algorithms, but are clearly responsible for ensuring that company values are transmitted and maintained throughout the organization. In many areas, executives receive reports that monitor compliance with values and HR standards; recommendation engines and artificial intelligence needs to be monitored and tracked just like any other area.
  • Posted on: 12/16/2021

    Will consumer behavior actually change this holiday season?

    While consumers are clearly stating that they wish for life to return to a pre-pandemic cadence, at least to some extent, the pandemic remains the critical issue for 2022. Retailers should consider building and reinforcing omnichannel relationships so they can deal with consumers through e-commerce, BOPIS, curbside and other versions of digital commerce. In terms of retail focus, the trends seem consistent with New Year's resolutions in the past: more time with family, more exercise, better diet. Only drinking seems to differ from the past.
  • Posted on: 12/13/2021

    Is the BOPIS experience getting any better?

    Retailers have added significant technology in order to meet this challenge or opportunity of facilitating buying online and picking up in-store. The challenges today are more soft costs and supply chain related. The soft costs are the additional staffing and training that are required to execute BOPIS, which seem to keep increasing overtime. The uncertainty of inventory due to supply chain challenges compounds problems, creating uncertainty about inventory based on uncertain deliveries. This challenge is difficult to communicate to consumers and will inevitably lead to confusion and a poor customer experience. I would recommend that retailers invest in infrastructure for BOPIS while not aggressively marketing the capability until the supply chain stabilizes.
  • Posted on: 11/15/2021

    Instacart wants ‘to make online grocery shopping more affordable’

    Price and difficulty accessing coupons are definitely reasons consumers have hesitated to use online grocery shopping pre COVID. Given the rising price of groceries today, these benefits are well timed for impact. The other barrier is delivery cost and the reduced cost of delivery hits the other button -- all targeted at consumers who have used Instacart in the past but are at risk of attrition as consumers get more comfortable returning to grocery stores.
  • Posted on: 10/18/2021

    Can 24/7 supply chain operations save Christmas?

    The increase in hours for the ports as well as the major retailers will have the greatest short-term impact on supply chain, reducing the backlog at the ports. However, these changes do not address (1) lack of trucks to ship the product, and (2) the supply chain issues at the manufacturing sites, which will continue for some time, driven by the pandemic and the shift in product selection by consumers.
  • Posted on: 09/24/2021

    Is livestream grocery shopping on the way in the U.S.?

    Live video chat with designated shoppers at grocery will be perceived by a certain segment of consumers as very valuable. The concern for consumers has always been quality in produce and selection in meats - video streaming addresses both of those issues. At the same time, the cost of implementation are high and the incremental value may be low. That is a testable proposition. Offhand, I would say that the high cost of entry will likely dissuade many groceries from implementing live video streaming, until the costs and the speed of implementation drop, which is in heaven.
  • Posted on: 09/23/2021

    Are gig worker complaints a retail problem?

    The problem with examining the gig worker issue separately from retailers themselves is that the gig workers are essentially part of the supply chain for those retailers. After all, retailers cannot get their product to their customers if they do not have delivery capability for the "last mile." Any changes delays or restructuring of the relationship between gig workers and retailers threatens the customer experience in a way they will backlash clearly onto the retailer themselves. Retailers tried to distance remediate the last mile and shifted onto poorly paid, poorly trained delivery people. Now, both the retailer and the customer have to pay the bill.
  • Posted on: 09/21/2021

    What’s Kroger doing most right?

    While the alliance with Instacart appears the most compelling, I believe that the work that Kroger is doing an automated fulfillment will reap the greatest rewards for the company in years to come. The rise in e-commerce, the need to reallocate inventory based on shaky supply chain structures and the uncertain environment from the pandemic all place stress on the fulfillment system. Having an automated fulfillment system not only reduces costs but also provides the ability to shift and flex inventory rapidly, which will be one of the key success factors at grocery retail in the years to come.
  • Posted on: 09/01/2021

    What’s the formula for e-commerce profitability?

    Below average online margins have been an issue for e-commerce historically. The levers that can influence that include management of shipping costs (e.g. the BOPIS only test), targeting promotions to increase the percent of volume purchased incrementally and leveraging existing labor in-store to process orders. One piece that the article does not mention is management of returns. Some retailers are experimenting with funneling returns directly to stores, to reduce processing time and cost and to decrease the amount of time until that product can be resold.
  • Posted on: 08/27/2021

    FMI research finds normalcy is not in the cards, not yet

    Grocery shopping online has "jumped the shark" in the past year, and consumers will continue to purchase for delivery and for pickup at a much higher level than pre-pandemic. Also, as retailers continue to shorten delivery times and expedite returns, consumers will not return to the malls in the coming year in the quantity that did before. When consumers do return, they will come for more single-point shopping -- to a specific store to fill a specific need, rather than mall browse. Finally, I think the days of business suits and more formal women's wear may be ending (outside of DC, that is). When you encourage employees to come in business casual, it will be hard to get them to go back!

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