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: 01/28/2022

    Walmart shoppers find time is well spent in new incubator store

    The initiatives all sound interesting, but I’d say the QR code deployment will probably be one that is rolled out. While I understand the intention to slow the shopping journey down, this alone won’t do much. I don’t think Walmart should try to be like Target, but rather find the best version of Walmart.
  • Posted on: 01/27/2022

    Retailers need to prove their sustainability cred to grow sales

    Retailers must take sustainability seriously, and there are several great examples of how to do it contained in this article. Green-washing just won’t do, as consumers are becoming much more aware of the negative impacts some practices are having. We have a collective responsibility to help stem the environmental impact. As rightly noted, the convenience and environmental sustainability appear to be conflicting notions, but something has got to give. One of the more complex problems retailers/brands need to solve is the environmental impact of online sales, and especially the returns.
  • Posted on: 01/27/2022

    Will Americans go to Lowe’s to buy dog food?

    Everyone is getting into the store-in-store game, why not Lowe's? Tractor Supply is a good example of selling both building supplies and pet/livestock goods and it’s proven to be a very successful formula. I suspect that there’s a strong overlap of pet owners and home owners that lean to DIY, so this looks like it could produce meaningful results for both brands. The trick to store-in-store plays is that the brands need to be complementary and I believe that would be the case with Lowe's and Petco. While I doubt that with will be a big deal from an overall revenue impact perspective for Lowes, it’s not nothing -- smaller, incremental gains still add up and in Lowe’s battle with Home Depot, every inch counts.
  • Posted on: 01/26/2022

    Amazon Go is going big(ger) in suburban locations

    Amazon Go has been a much slower evolution than Amazon hoped. While the advantages of Just Walkout technology makes good sense in busy urban locations, I wonder why Amazon believes that this will be attractive in larger suburban locations. Furthermore, I’m not certain the current Amazon Go offering adds much to what consumers can already get from other c-store operators in these areas. Overall, I’d say this latest move is incremental evolution for Amazon to experiment with Just Walkout technology in a larger format, but that’s about it. The technology overhead required for Go stores is prohibitive and the slow pace of Amazon’s expansion is proof positive of this.
  • Posted on: 01/25/2022

    Will 2022 be the year of trading down at retail?

    Yes, inflation is and will continue to impact consumer purchasing. The inflation is exacerbated by lingering supply-chain issues as well as new geo-political concerns that are creating tumult in the stock market. As 401Ks decline, consumers will be even more hesitant. Inflation isn’t a new problem. Retailers will need to focus on value and be extra sensitive to price pressures on consumers.
  • Posted on: 01/24/2022

    Kohl’s receives an unsolicited buyout bid, others may follow

    The sharks are circling ... despite its challenges, Kohl’s is fundamentally a successful retailer. But the other fact is that equity-backed businesses will always be under pressure to deliver more. It's insatiable. Given the meteoric (and sometimes insane) valuations and stock prices we've seen with some retail stocks, we shouldn’t be surprised to see this sort of investor action taking place. Being owned by private equity isn’t all bad, but the motivations tend to be focused exclusively on shareholder value -- often to the detriment of customers and employees.
  • Posted on: 01/21/2022

    Amazon says first clothing store will be a fashion and technological revelation

    This is a very interesting concept, and the cornucopia of tech enabled services make it among the most advanced apparel stores I’ve seen. While I have no doubt that Amazon can bring the technology – and this will most certainly be attractive to some consumers – the fashion still has to resonate and no algorithm can pick winners (yet).
  • Posted on: 01/20/2022

    Should retailers stick to vaccine mandates and change face mask rules?

    The SCOTUS decision to not allow mandates has put retailers in a tough position. I applaud the courage of Mr. Valade and his decision to move forward with his company's vaccination mandate. Valade said it best, “We put workplace safety at the very top of our priority list and the Supreme Court’s recent ruling doesn’t impact that core value.” Each business will now need to determine how they wish to proceed – there is no win/win here. Either way, some employees/customers will be happy and others unhappy.
  • Posted on: 01/19/2022

    Are retailers’ returns concerns coming to a holiday head?

    This is the ugly underbelly of online selling – painfully expensive returns. Returns are bad for retailers' bottom lines and the environment. As good as online retailing has become, it’s far from perfect. Late shipments, wrong items, poor fit, there are countless reasons why customers do and will continue to keep shipping product back. Retailers need to think creatively about how to mitigate the returns expense impact, like offering additional discounts to keep product. However pricing incentives must be considered carefully, otherwise some customers will merely game the system to get extra discounts.
  • Posted on: 01/18/2022

    December retail sales were strong, no matter what the clickbait headlines said

    Bravo Steve – I couldn’t agree more. Given the tumult and challenges retailers have faced, the results for many this holiday season were nothing short of terrific. The fact is, the retailers who survived the ravages of the pandemic have emerged stronger, driven by a robust economy. Sure inflation is inevitable, but it’s not a deal breaker. Notwithstanding the still unfolding and uncertain trajectory of the COVID-19 pandemic and lingering supply chain concerns, 2022 is setting up to be a solid year, with even bigger gains in 2023.
  • Posted on: 01/14/2022

    SCOTUS strikes down OSHA’s COVID vaccine/testing mandate

    Great point Steve -- and, I would add, it gives retailers a more helpful way to deal with belligerent shoppers too.
  • Posted on: 01/14/2022

    SCOTUS strikes down OSHA’s COVID vaccine/testing mandate

    While I respect the court and accept its decision – it’s a disappointing one. The virus does not care about what the court thinks is right. While the decision allows businesses to keep operating (which is good), it also puts pressure on each business to create and enforce its own vaccination policy. Ultimately the smartest companies, like Delta, are doing it anyway and many others are and will too. The science is clear: the unvaccinated are creating the stress on the medical system. If this were leprosy, there would be no arguments. At the very end of it all, Darwin will sort out who's who.
  • Posted on: 01/13/2022

    Can Penney’s new leadership (finally) transform the business?

    Well OK, we've seen this story play out many times before. You need a great team to in order to transform the business, so executive team building is the obvious first thing to do. But ultimately, the challenges remain -- can this new team take a beaten and battered brand and bring it back to life? We can always be hopeful.
  • Posted on: 01/13/2022

    Big Lots has big expansion plans

    I’m bullish on Big Lots. With inflationary pressure squeezing consumers across the board, the low cost model that Big Lots has is ideal for the times. Expansion makes good sense, especially given the availability of quality real estate as a result of the impacts of closures and failures due to the pandemic. Even as the pandemic evolves into endemicity, there will still be lingering effects, and I believe Big Lots is well positioned and appropriately proactive about growth.
  • Posted on: 01/12/2022

    More Americans are making Target runs

    Target delivers a consistent, reliable store experience – period. Despite all the challenges, Target executes better than any other retailer, and shoppers are attracted by this. Target was way ahead of the market when it came to in-store pick-up and using their significant store network to facilitate online orders. These investments paid off and the pandemic amplified it all. As impressive as Target’s store traffic results are, equally important is their shopper conversion numbers – Target is not squandering their store traffic, they’re converting it into sales.

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