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: 12/18/2018

    When are outside Amazon experts better than inside ones?

    Amazon has created an ecosystem that most retailers can hardly ignore. Any retailer who is working in or intends to work in the Amazon ecosystem needs to understand how it functions and how to get the most out of it. It is complicated and while it may make sense to develop internal expertise, for many retailers hiring an “Amazon expert” could help them get further, faster. I’m not sure that Amazon is more complicated than working with other retailers, but it is complicated.
  • Posted on: 12/14/2018

    Does fear motivate workers or make things worse?

    I have a hard time seeing how fear could be used as a motivator to deliver positive outcomes. If employees are fearful, this negative emotion can’t help but be reflected in the store experience and the vibe shoppers get. I wouldn't advise using fear as a motivator in any circumstance.
  • Posted on: 12/13/2018

    Retailing success doesn’t depend on silver bullets

    There was a time when store managers were held in high esteem and associates were valued. Today, it seems that many retail executives are indeed looking for a silver bullet – and in some cases a high capacity clip full of silver bullets that they randomly spray across the organization. Store managers and associates are not devices that can be programmatically directed. In an effort to deliver greater “productivity” and a better “store experience” it seems that the store manager is being marginalized -- they are being directed by apps, alerts and systems that drive their staffing decisions, merchandising decisions and even daily tasks. Retailers should realize that store managers and front-line personnel play a key role in their success. Store managers need to be able to use data and tools to make decisions and run the store without being lorded over by an app alert that tells them it’s time to clean the toilet.
  • Posted on: 12/13/2018

    Are holiday shoppers getting more ‘appy’?

    The entire world is becoming more "‘appy" but this is even more the case in retailing. The importance of mobile has and will continue to become an ever larger part of our lives and smart retailers are prioritizing their investments accordingly. Like any software development, once released, these apps need to continue to evolve -– mobile app development is a continuous journey every retailer should take very seriously.
  • Posted on: 12/12/2018

    Where will Amazon go with its cashier-free concept?

    Amazon will continue to do what Amazon does, and experimenting with the Amazon Go concept is part of it. Amazon Go stores could fit in lots of places, but I doubt that there will be any particular "best" place for these stores. The reality is, Amazon Go is a glorified convenience store and essentially a live demo of their cashier-less technology platform, which I expect is really what Amazon is trying to establish. Like Amazon Web Services (AWS), I believe that Amazon’s bigger play is in the provisioning of technology to retailers -- once the model is proven and the technology is affordable, which I believe is still a long way off.
  • Posted on: 12/12/2018

    Is Kroger following the Sears playbook for self-destruction?

    While the concerns about Kroger stores are valid, the comparison to Sears is unwarranted and overstated. Sears' situation is very different. As one of the most progressive grocery retailers, Kroger is looking to the future and seeing that digital will be critical to success. It’s not surprising that, in the short-term, this may appear to be myopically focused on digital to the detriment of physical stores, but I doubt that leadership at Kroger is confused about the importance physical stores play in their future.
  • Posted on: 12/10/2018

    Will Dollar General’s DGX concept be a hit with urban Millennials?

    Creating a new urban concept tailored to Millennials seems like a smart move by Dollar General. The key to success will be creating and executing a new concept that truly is unique – from product mix to checkout experience. It won’t be good enough to merely create the appearance of something different if the shopping experience is essentially the same as a typical Dollar General store -- DGX really needs to offer something different. Cosmetic or merely "marketing" changes can be easily replicated by competitors.
  • Posted on: 12/06/2018

    Walmart: Floor cleaning robots will give associates more time to serve customers

    Getting robots to do repetitive tasks like cleaning the floor, is a practical use case for the technology. Theoretically this should free up associate time to focus on delivering service. The reality, however, may be very different. Instead of freeing up associates, this may very well lead to a reduction in the number of associates needed. If you look at the impact robots have had on the auto manufacturing industry, the net impact is a reduction in labor. Robots and automation continue to impact all areas of the economy and retail is part of this story -- robots for cleaning floors today ... completely autonomous stores in the future?
  • Posted on: 12/05/2018

    Drugstore/grocery pilot is two-thirds Walgreens and one-third Kroger

    Dedicating one-third of selling space to Kroger says that Walgreens is very serious about grocery. Grocery is a traffic driver, and Walgreens is betting that a robust grocery offering will help keep traffic up and opportunities to sell these shoppers more non-grocery items. There’s no doubt that the potential cannibalization impact was carefully considered by Kroger in their assessment of which Walgreens locations/markets were selected. Overall bold move.
  • Posted on: 12/04/2018

    Walmart gives associates a tool to deal with out-of-stocks

    Tools are only useful if they are put to practical use, and this fits the bill. If well deployed, this will be a win for Walmart, their associates and, most importantly, customers. Simply not being able to find product is a conversion killer and Walmart’s new app has the potential to convert people who likely would have left without buying into buyers. This sounds like a simple, practical tool that will help create a better shopping experience and ultimately capture more sales.
  • Posted on: 12/03/2018

    Has Amazon figured out how to scale its Go cashier-free tech to bigger stores?

    To me, the biggest challenge remains the technology investment required to monitor larger store environments. By some accounts, the small Amazon Go stores required hundreds of cameras to track shoppers – this could be thousands of cameras in a Whole Foods. I’m just not convinced that this is going to be practical for the foreseeable future given current technology. That said, I’m not surprised that Amazon is pursuing this. Testing is testing – there’s plenty of merit to experimentation. Rolling this out at scale is an entirely different proposition.
  • Posted on: 12/03/2018

    Payless scores with mock-up luxury shop

    This fascinating experiment in consumer behavior by Payless nicely illustrates the power of branding and social media. However, beyond being a clever PR stunt, one has to wonder what the long-term benefit of the experiment will be for Payless. While the message of how everyday footwear can be positioned and sold as high-end, luxury goods is clear, I’m skeptical that it will have an significant impact on Payless or its position in the market. This was a brilliant PR stunt, but I’m not sure it was more than that.
  • Posted on: 11/30/2018

    Is J.Crew’s new Amazon relationship already over?

    Re-invention is hard and J.Crew is living it. The decision to abandon the Mercantile line was likely a result of poor sales more than anything else. While it’s impossible to say what impact this recent decision to phase out the Mercantile line will have, it’s clear that J. Crew is making bold moves, including leadership changes, in an attempt to find a successful path forward. Mickey Drexler is a legend and I wouldn’t bet against him.
  • Posted on: 11/29/2018

    Are retailers better off going cashless?

    Good point about the cash robbers Lee ...but given the growing problem of cyber crime, it seems the robbers are going cashless too. ;)
  • Posted on: 11/29/2018

    Are retailers better off going cashless?

    There are many benefits to cashless payment in delivering a great in-store experience for shoppers and that’s why retailers are interested. The move to cashless by some retailers is merely a reflection of what they believe their market wants -- they’re obviously not concerned that by not taking cash they will lose business. There’s no question that cash will ultimately represent a smaller portion of transactions and that electronic forms of payment will become the norm but as long as cash remains legal tender, most retailers will accept it.

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