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: 07/29/2021

    Store associates shouldn’t have to be the mask or vaccine police

    This is a difficult catch-22. Requiring proof of vaccination, while prudent, will cause confusion and upset some customers that front-line workers will then need to manage. We have all seen how challenging and at times dangerous this can be. Front-line staff should not be the mask police. However, the concerns about the Delta variant are very real and the store environment needs to be safe for staff and shoppers. Retailers should re-instate their COVID protocols on a market by market basis and adjust as conditions change. Every retailer will need to decide what posture they’re going to take and then implement it.
  • Posted on: 07/29/2021

    What can rival retailers learn from Walmart’s free college degree program?

    Now this is what I call investing in your people! If retailers want young people to work in retail, and sincerely make it a career, then investing in their education is an important step. The size and scope of the education support Walmart is offering appears to be industry leading. But as altruistic as this may all seem, make no mistake, investing in people is good for Walmart’s business. Happy, engaged employees deliver better service and better service keeps customers coming back. Other retailers take note: this is good for employees, good for customers and good for your business.
  • Posted on: 07/28/2021

    Weather forecast predicts retailers will face more record-setting heat waves and storms

    Regardless of what side of the climate change argument you stand, it’s undeniable that weather is changing. This goes far beyond retailers and suppliers, this is about all of humanity and our ability to find ways to navigate these challenging times. We all need to take personal responsibility and we need to do it with a sense of urgency.
  • Posted on: 07/28/2021

    Will smaller retailers pay to use Walmart’s tech and transform their own businesses?

    Walmart is taking a page out of Amazon’s playbook. Offering services to smaller retailers and direct to consumer brands is a smart move by Walmart. Not only does this enable them to financially leverage the investment they made in developing their software, but it also helps build Walmart’s marketplace.
  • Posted on: 07/27/2021

    Will the Delta variant keep shoppers and unvaccinated workers at home?

    The evidence is clear: vaccinations work and those that aren’t vaccinated have a better chance than ever to get COVID. While we carry on oblivious to the threat, cases continue to rise. There’s no question that the Delta variant (and no doubt other variants to follow), continue to pose a threat. The very good news is that we have effective vaccines. Retailers need to stay vigilant and continue to err on the side of caution. The health and welfare of their employees and customers are paramount.
  • Posted on: 07/26/2021

    Has Ben & Jerry’s gone too far with its stand on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict?

    Ben & Jerry's recent announcement was very consistent with their behavior in the past – they are outspoken. The problem here is that the owner (Unilever) and the brand representatives (Ben & Jerry) are not aligned on the issue. That’s the big takeaway. It’s one thing to take a stance on a social issues, but it’s critical to ensure that there is complete alignment, especially when the position is controversial as it was in this case.
  • Posted on: 07/22/2021

    Beauty shop-in-shops are trending

    Beauty products are consumables that require repeat visits, so the allure of beefing up the beauty department is completely understandable. Generally, I think these partnerships make a lot of sense and often deliver value to both the retailer and the brands. But as we saw in the Sephora/J.C. Penney split, the relationships need to be mutually beneficial. I fully expect to see shop-in-shops continue to be a popular way for retailers to extend their product mix and create new store experiences.
  • Posted on: 07/21/2021

    Have indie bookstores found answers to counter Amazon?

    Amazon will continue to dominate this category for many years to come. The independent bookstore business was permanently changed decades ago by Amazon, and the pandemic wasn’t helpful for independent book retailers. The fact is, independent book selling is a lifestyle business. These retailers can’t compete with Amazon and shouldn’t even try. They should focus on the unique store experience they alone create and serve their customers.
  • Posted on: 07/20/2021

    Can facial recognition outlast its bad press?

    Facial recognition is a very slippery slope. My primary question is, why use it? Why do some retailers feel that they need to capture facial images or any other biometrics from shoppers? Saying that it’s needed to deliver a great shopping experience is nonsense, so what’s the motivation? Just because we’re living in an era where enormous amounts of data can easily be collected doesn’t mean that retailers should unless there is a good reason for doing so -- and that reason should be disclosed to shoppers. Privacy will continue to be a hot button issue and retailers should be very careful in what data is collected and how it is used.
  • Posted on: 07/20/2021

    Is it time for retailers to reinstate pandemic protocols?

    This is clear evidence that the pandemic is not over yet. Employers need to maintain a high safety protocol when it comes to staff and the customers. Retailers should closely follow local safety guidelines and be flexible in bringing back additional safety practices if the conditions warrant them.
  • Posted on: 07/19/2021

    Is the Walmart/Justice tie-up a harbinger of more retailer brand partnerships?

    As brands find their way to market, I expect to see many more of these types of brand collaborations and partnerships in the future. Justice was always a strong back-to-school brand, and so it makes great sense for Walmart of leverage this for their shoppers now that Justice has closed its stores. The brand still has value and Walmart is smart to recognize this.
  • Posted on: 07/15/2021

    Bed Bath & Beyond adds off-hour pickups and speedier fulfillment to its ‘omni-always’ suite

    I doubt that there is an “ideal” percentage of online orders that should be fulfilled from stores, but I do think that expanding convenience for customers is always a good thing, as long as you can offer the service consistently and profitably. Off-hour pick-up seems like a potentially really useful service for some customers, even post-pandemic. However only time will tell if there’s enough uptake to make this make sense for Bed, Bath & Beyond.
  • Posted on: 07/14/2021

    Will ending non-competes be good for retail workers and their bosses?

    Yes, there should be limits on non-competes to executive or senior level employees – not front line workers. The arguments for curtailing the non-compete clauses are strong and valid. Workers should not be restricted from making a living. Furthermore, non-competes are extremely difficult to enforce.
  • Posted on: 07/14/2021

    When will predictive models become more predictable?

    Predictive models are only as good as the assumptions used to build the algorithms and the quality of the underlying data to inform them. As the article points out, all bets were off given the impact of the pandemic. Prediction and data will continue to be extremely important as retailers re-calibrate post-pandemic, but the bigger lesson should be that retailers shouldn’t blindly believe that they can "algorithm their way to success." The physical world is extremely complex, and so even accounting for all the variables that can impact sales demand is a challenge. The best advice for retailers is to view trends from numerous data vantages, and then connect the views to make decisions – judgement will always be required.
  • Posted on: 07/13/2021

    Will ‘Scan & Ship’ give Sam’s a leg up on club competition?

    This is an interesting and practical use of technology to enhance the shopping experience. It still requires a physical visit, but creates a far better experience by eliminating the need to deal with large/heavy purchases. The store visit will always remain at the heart of the warehouse retail experience, and so finding and deploying technology that actually enhances the experience is the challenge – this is a good example of how to do that.

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