PROFILE

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.
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  • Posted on: 11/18/2019

    What will happen now that Five Below has gone above $5?

    This seems to be the awkward discussion all price-point branded retailers find themselves having when prices start to escalate – which they often do. Overall, Five Below has established a loyal following of mostly young people who are into cheap stuff. I think management is handling the higher price point issue as well as can be expected. Some people will be offended by the move; others won’t care or will hardly even notice.
  • Posted on: 11/15/2019

    Should customers just be paid for their data?

    I agree Cathy – appalled and stunned. Another notorious example is the now defunct Cambridge Analytica which claimed to have amassed up to 5,000 data points on 220 million Americans. How many people would be willing to share this much data about themselves? I'd bet close to 0 percent.
  • Posted on: 11/15/2019

    Should customers just be paid for their data?

    While it’s undeniable that consumer data is valuable, it’s very difficult to assign an actual value to it. Furthermore, I think it would be very difficult to put Pandora back in the box since so many people today give their data away for free. Despite these challenges, the idea of valuing data and providing financial compensation for consumers to give it out is interesting and I won’t be surprised to see "pay for personal data" options being introduced in the future.
  • Posted on: 11/13/2019

    What happens now that Nike has called off its deal with Amazon?

    This is an important move for Nike and a strong signal to the market. As a leading global brand, Nike has the gravitas and marketing savvy to go it alone, showing that you don’t need Amazon to be successful online. Given the depth of online knowledge that Nike’s new CEO John Donahoe has as the former CEO of eBay, it will be very interesting to see how this plays out. In the short-term, this will have no significant impact on Amazon or likely Nike, but in the long-term, it may be a different story if other major brands follow Nike’s lead. For now, I think other brands will be watching very closely.
  • Posted on: 11/12/2019

    Amazon confirms it will open a grocery store not named Whole Foods

    Grocery is a tough and highly competitive business and building out new a grocery chain from scratch is a very tall order even for the mighty Amazon. Given Whole Foods' relatively small size and niche in the massive grocery market it’s understandable that Amazon is looking to expand, but I’m not sure why Amazon wouldn’t acquire an existing grocery player instead of building from scratch – it’s curious.
  • Posted on: 11/11/2019

    Express Launches digital-first DTC wellness brand

    There are advantages for legacy retailers to launch digital-first brands. UpWest provides an opportunity to completely set the brand message, merchandise and experience without being shackled to Express. I think this is a smart play for Express. As far as the brand promise is concerned, it has to be more than just words – it’s not just what they say, it’s how they act that will matter. Time will tell if their brand message sustains and resonates with the target audience.
  • Posted on: 11/08/2019

    Gap Inc.’s CEO steps down. What comes next?

    Mr. Peck did a lot right over his 15 years with Gap Inc. However when people fall out of love with your brand, it can’t be easily fixed by improving processes, your online presence or by splitting brands apart for stock price reasons. Gap needs a leader who can find the magic in the brand again. To win the hearts and minds of today’s consumers. To find the magic. It won't be easy and it may require a complete transformation. In fashion, it has to start with the merchandise. I wish the new leader all the best, it won’t be easy.
  • Posted on: 11/07/2019

    Can J.C. Penney reinvent itself with its offbeat lab store?

    Experimentation and testing are critical to finding new ways forward, and so I applaud management for undertaking these initiatives. That said, this seems like changing light bulbs and the color of the life vests on the Titanic. J.C. Penney is facing huge challenges – existential challenges, I believe. They need to focus on fixing the basic/core operating model of the business. It’s hard to say what they might discover “works” in the lab store, but the initiatives described hardly sound like true innovations and more like a laundry list of buzzword concepts being thrown against the wall.
  • Posted on: 11/06/2019

    Food halls drive mall traffic, not clothing sales

    There’s not much landlords can do to stop the trend of shoppers going online. Mall operators are traffic aggregators and they will continue to look for ways to drive traffic into their malls. The new American Dream Meadowlands is a good example. Instead of being a shopping mall that also includes entertainment features, it’s an entertainment park that also includes shopping. Traffic for the sake of traffic does retailers no good. Food courts, waterparks and skating rinks are all well and good, but retailers need to provide shoppers with reasons to visit their stores, and not just rely on mall walkers to stumble upon their stores.
  • Posted on: 11/05/2019

    Is Amazon starting to fall out of favor with American consumers?

    As other major retailers like Walmart and Target roll out programs to compete with Amazon, it’s reasonable to expect Amazon’s growth to moderate. That said, Amazon is still a juggernaut and while growth will inevitably slow, I don’t see any evidence that there is a significant issue with membership recruitment and retention. Furthermore, Amazon continues to ramp-up offerings for Prime members that other major players are playing catch-up with.
  • Posted on: 11/01/2019

    Survey says consumers want online orders shipped fast and free

    Amazon sets the delivery standard with which all others will be compared. Fast delivery has indeed become table stakes and Amazon continues to push the boundaries of what’s possible. No doubt other major players who have the financial wherewithal to play the profit killing next-day delivery game will match Amazon – most other retailers can simply watch and wonder.
  • Posted on: 11/01/2019

    Are Walgreens and Jenny Craig a good fit?

    Walgreens is on the right track with partnerships like Jenny Craig. Jenny Craig is complementary to healthy living and brings brand power that will attract people to their stores. This is a classic case of build vs. partnering and, while partnerships can be fraught, when the fit is right they can be synergistic and impactful. Partnerships like these make perfect sense.
  • Posted on: 10/31/2019

    Would LVMH-ownership be a good change for Tiffany?

    Finally a strategic acquisition – not a private equity takeover! I think this move makes lots of strategic sense for all brands involved. LVMH is arguably the leading luxury conglomerate in the world, and adding Tiffany’s would be a great fit. While other acquisitions might make sense, I’d be hard pressed to think of a better fit than LVMH.
  • Posted on: 10/30/2019

    Will free deliveries for Prime members make Amazon the driving force in online grocery?

    Amazon continues to ratchet up the grocery home delivery arms race and while I’m sure this will be very attractive for some Prime members, I’m not sure it will have a significant impact on Prime memberships. As far as competition is concerned, other than the largest, everyone else is being left in the dust. Of course Walmart and Target will respond in some way, and other retailers will watch in wonder – how can this possibly be sustainable? It's not.
  • Posted on: 10/28/2019

    What makes voice assistants creepy?

    This is a classic trade-off between convenience and privacy. For voice commerce to be effective, it needs to monitor what people say. And while it is not substantially different than online privacy issues, there seems to be a much more personal, visceral response to the creepiness of voice commerce which seems to be related to the fact that voice commerce devices monitor people continuously – as opposed to online behavior. In order to reduce the creepiness factor of voice commerce, I suggest manufacturers consider clearer explanations about how the voice data is being collected and providing consumers with a clear way to shut off listening.

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