Mark Ryski

Founder, CEO & Author, HeadCount Corporation
Mark Ryski is the author of two books on retail analytics, Conversion: The Last Great Retail Metric and When Retail Customers Count – books that are widely considered the definitive reference guides for the retail industry. He is also the Founder and CEO of HeadCount Corporation – the leading authority on retail traffic and conversion analysis. Founded in 1994, today Mark and his dedicated team work with retailers across virtually all categories and sizes from independents to large chains.
  • Posted on: 10/17/2019

    Gymboree to get a new start as part of The Children’s Place

    I think this strategy has legs. Gymboree still has brand value, notwithstanding its historical challenges. Re-launching online is a start, but it’s clear that having a physical presence is key, so piggybacking on The Children’s’ Place locations is a way to have their cake and eat it too. It’s hard to say if Gymboree will ultimately operate their own physical stores, but with this current strategy that possibility will certainly exist in the future.
  • Posted on: 10/16/2019

    Does Target need to address its associate morale problem?

    There will always be some tension in employee/management relations as retailers drive for sales growth and profitability. The workers do have a legitimate complaint – what’s the point of raising wages if hours are being cut? Ultimately, what matters to associates is how much money is on their check on pay day and if the net result is less than before, their concern is understandable. Management needs to assess not only the impact of raising wages, but the actual amount of take-home pay and other benefits of value associates receive. Making strong public statements about supporting stores associates with higher wages is merely PR fodder if actual take-home pay decreases.
  • Posted on: 10/16/2019

    Will shoe swapping be the new shoe shopping?

    The concept is interesting and on point with the current rental trend. And while I have no doubt there is a market for a service like Shoe Bank, I don’t think it will have an impact on traditional shoe retailers for some time – if ever. As we’ve seen with other rental businesses, the logistics are extremely challenging and profitability allusive. Shoe Bank is a cool idea, but whether it will be big is uncertain.
  • Posted on: 10/15/2019

    Will customers give Walmart the keys to their homes?

    In-home delivery seems to be the next logistical step in grocery convenience, and all eyes will be on Walmart’s test. There’s no doubt that this service will resonate with some consumers. However, the real test will be 1.) how consumers in general take to the service and 2.) can it be delivered seamlessly and scaled profitably (or at least not too unprofitably). Ultimately, I think that the concerns about privacy and the creepiness of allowing strangers to enter your home will stunt adoption.
  • Posted on: 10/11/2019

    Will Sam’s Club CEO lead Walmart’s U.S. business to greater success?

    Walmart’s results have been impressive and so has their pursuit of technology and innovation – I expect this to continue under Mr. Furner. The greatest challenges Mr. Furner faces will be to build on and advance an organization with the size and success of Walmart – and continue to battle against Amazon at the same time. He also has the benefit of a deep and capable team of leaders and managers to help drive the business forward. I also think that Furner’s history within the organization, starting as an hourly associate and working his way up, gives him a unique perspective on all aspects of the business. Congratulations Mr. Furner and good luck. You have big shoes to fill.
  • Posted on: 10/10/2019

    Will becoming a UPS pickup/drop off point drive craft sales at Michaels?

    Driving store traffic is important to creating sales opportunities and using stores for pickup/drop off is one way to get more people in the store, however, traffic does not equal sales – if retailers spent as much time on converting the traffic into sales as they do trying to just drive more traffic into their stores, they’d be even better off.
  • Posted on: 10/10/2019

    Can Target’s chief merchandising officer turn Bed Bath & Beyond around?

    Bed, Bath & Beyond’s fundamental business is solid – but the challenge was execution. Mark Tritton brings a proven track record across a wide range of categories. I believe the hiring of Mr. Tritton was the most brilliant decision Bed, Bath & Beyond management has made in years – I expect great things to come from this, and the 20 percent+ pop in stock price today says a lot about how the market feels about it too.
  • Posted on: 10/09/2019

    Why is Target helping Toys “R” Us get back online?

    Target is looking to become a powerhouse in the toy category, and the partnership with Tru Kids, along with the recent partnership with Disney will help enable this aspiration. The reincarnation of Toys "R" Us is too small to compete against Amazon, Walmart and Target. Partnering with Target at least gives them a channel to build volume and that’s an important objective. Ultimately, this sounds like a test drive for an acquisition of some kind by Target of the Tru Kids assets – they’ll get to test drive it this year. Smart move for Target; understandable move by Tru Kids.
  • Posted on: 10/07/2019

    Should Amazon rent out its Just Walk Out tech?

    While Amazon’s stated goal of diversifying revenue streams by offering Go technology to other retailers seems reasonable, I wonder if there are not additional motives – like acquiring even more data on shoppers’ behaviors and preferences. It’s not lost on anyone that the insights that can be extracted from the massive amount of data that Go-enabled stores can acquire could very well be used by Amazon to refine their own offerings, putting other retailers at a disadvantage. I think retailers are right to be skeptical and cautious in their dealings with Amazon as it tries to strike a delicate balance between service provider and competitor to retailers.
  • Posted on: 10/04/2019

    Should companies have to pay you to use your personal data?

    I agree that data should be considered personal property with all the rights and privileges that come with it, including many of the points listed. However, Pandora’s box is fully opened and I don’t see any practical way to put it back the way it was. I have very little faith that lawmakers can craft meaningful legislation to address the many dimensions of personal data privacy, and even less in the departments that would need to enforce any legislation that was enacted. I believe that personal data privacy will continue to be a lightning rod topic, and while it will be impossible to roll back data collection, there are still opportunities to rein in areas like facial recognition and profiling – or at least I hope there will be.
  • Posted on: 10/03/2019

    Zulily thinks it can beat Amazon and Walmart on price

    Lower prices almost always plays well with consumers, but going head-to-head with the two price-leading giants of the industry may be beyond bold – it could negatively impact their business for several reasons. The first issue is awareness of Zulily relative to Walmart and Amazon – two are well-known, household names, Zulily is not. Second, Walmart and Amazon are retail super powers with the supply chain, buying power and financial wherewithal to combat any price action. And third, if the end result is that Zulily customers who would have purchased anyway now pay less because of the comparison tool/price match, then Zulily will be leaving money on the table. Playing the price game is a one-trick pony – you may get a short term bump, but the long-term consequences can be devastating.
  • Posted on: 10/01/2019

    Do retail metrics need to be reinvented?

    I agree that since the nature of retailing interactions is changing it makes sense to consider new metrics to understand and measure business outcomes. However, the list of “new” metrics suggested by Deloitte are hardly new. Revenue growth? Free cash flow? Return on invested capital? These are all well-established metrics used in retailing and business in general. The idea of drilling into transaction profitability and sales per unique customer offers potentially new insights retailers may not yet have considered, and that may have merit. However in order to calculate some of these new metrics, retailers will require additional data that many do not have today, for example, sales tracked to the unique customer.
  • Posted on: 10/01/2019

    Can Forever 21 come back from bankruptcy?

    Forever 21 has been on a long slow side for years and, while there may still be loyal followers, I’m not sure this brand has the staying power to turn the business around. Fashion is fickle, and Forever 21 certainly had its share of success, but sustaining brand loyalty and sales growth over a long term is difficult for any retailer to do. I suspect that Forever 21 has a strong enough following to attract turnaround capital and support, but I’d say the probably of success is quite low.
  • Posted on: 09/30/2019

    Is Rent the Runway over-promising on deliveries?

    This sounds like merely growing pains of a leader in a new and emerging category. While the supply chain issues are troubling for customers, it sounds like leadership at RTR is doing everything they can to resolve the issues. Hyper-growth of the type experienced by RTR is a double-edged sword. The high growth is exciting, but managing and refining the behind-the-scenes logistics/systems in order to deliver is complicated and the problems are magnified at scale. This is all part of the maturation process.
  • Posted on: 09/27/2019

    Amazon wants to take the lead on regulating facial recognition tech

    Since there appears to be no coherent oversight coming from lawmakers, I think it’s a smart move for Amazon to help drive legislation on facial recognition. While I see the value of using facial recognition for law enforcement and security purposes, I’m more skeptical about how it will be used in retail stores and businesses generally. This will continue to be a controversial topic for years to come as society grapples with privacy.

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