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: 10/18/2018

    LabCorp deal brings blood testing to Walgreens’ pharmacies


    This is the future of drug/pharmacy retailing. It makes complete sense to offer expanded healthcare services at stores like Walgreens. Consumers want convenience and that applies to healthcare services as much as it does beauty and other categories. I think this is a very smart move on the part of Walgreens and I would expect to see many more healthcare services being offered by Walgreens and other major players in the future.
  • Posted on: 10/17/2018

    Eddie Lampert is the worst

    Lampert would certainly get my vote as worst industry executive ever. In this case, we’re not talking about a few strategic blunders – this is systemic and consistent failure due to very bad, traumatic decisions it appears he has made unilaterally. I have no sympathy for Lampert. And while his asset stripping is disgraceful, more importantly he has stripped the careers and pensions from hundreds of thousands of working people, and that’s unforgivable.
  • Posted on: 10/16/2018

    ‘Frictionless’ is the annoying word of the year

    I don’t believe that most retailers have a clear understanding of what “frictionless” means to their shoppers. And to a large extent, “frictionless” has tended to focus on transaction processing or checkout. For me, friction is any impediment that prevents a shopper from making a purchase. This is not only checkout, but a wide variety of in-store elements from inventory levels and merchandising to associate assistance. Retailers need to better understand what their friction points are from the customer's perspective and then work on eliminating these. It’s not just checkout.
  • Posted on: 10/12/2018

    Will comics, movies and music take tween retailer Justice to new heights?

    Creating quality entertainment content is difficult to do. Retailers who attempt this must know that the probability of failure is high. However, if the retailer can create entertainment products that resonate with their market, the result is brand leverage and differentiation that can help attract new customers and keep existing customers engaged. I applaud the effort.
  • Posted on: 10/11/2018

    Would biometric feedback shopping carts creep out Walmart’s customers?

    Yes, and automatically drag you to the soap aisle ;)
  • Posted on: 10/11/2018

    Would biometric feedback shopping carts creep out Walmart’s customers?

    I’m all for smart carts, but collecting biometric data crosses the line. Biometric data will be used to “identify customers who may be on the verge of passing out”– seriously? There’s a lot of data retailers collect in the name of customer service, but if there's not a clear reason why they're collecting data, and being completely transparent with shoppers, it's a very slippery slope.
  • Posted on: 10/10/2018

    Will Best Buy’s golden years strategy deliver long-term success?

    I like this as a long-term play for Best Buy. Technology is and will continue to play an increasingly important role in enabling seniors to maintain their independence and provide family/care-givers peace-of-mind. The recent acquisition of GreatCall and future initiatives positions Best Buy well as the trusted provider for this large, growing and underserved market.
  • Posted on: 10/09/2018

    Is it too late for a new store concept from Barnes & Noble?

    Fixing the in-store experience can’t hurt, but I fear the challenges Barnes & Noble faces are much deeper and more systemic. The new prototype stores sound interesting, but largely incremental to what they’ve done in the past. It just doesn’t sound compelling enough to have a significant impact. And their challenging financial results stack the odds unfavorably. The bookselling business has so radically transformed over the past decade that I think it will take something radically different to break through -- it's not clear what that is and it won’t be easy.
  • Posted on: 10/05/2018

    Are retailers getting too political with voter registration campaigns?

    As long as messages stay non-partisan, I don’t see any issue with retailers urging people to vote. That said, it’s very difficult to separate the altruistic sentiment with the highly-charged, partisan political environment that exists today. Retailers are part of society and it’s well within their rights to make public statements, like encouraging people vote. However, I would advise that they be very careful not to get too partisan in their approach unless the position their taking a stance is core to their brand, like in the case of Patagonia.
  • Posted on: 10/04/2018

    Toys ‘R’ Us to rise from the ashes of bankruptcy, but should it?

    I’m very skeptical about this move. The lenders couldn’t get a price for the assets they wanted, so now they are interested in reorganizing the company to be successful? While I do believe there was a window of opportunity to do this, things move fast in retail, and they have lost valuable time to re-organize the business -- they laid off all their employees! I’m not sure what this effort will produce, but the probability of a successful comeback is low in my opinion.
  • Posted on: 10/03/2018

    Will the Kroger/Walgreens pilot lead to something really big?

    Grocery and pharmacy are a natural fit, so conceptually this makes sense. The real challenge here will be in how these two behemoths coordinate their logistics to make this a seamless process for shoppers. Given the challenges that retailers have with BOPIS and ship from store, there’s a lot that can go wrong here and ultimately, I’m not sure there is much to gain for either Kroger or Walgreens.
  • Posted on: 10/02/2018

    Will Amazon’s new $15 an hour minimum wage mess up rivals’ seasonal hiring plans?

    First, I want to commend Amazon for taking leadership on this issue. In terms of impact on other retailers, not much will change. Retailers have been and continue to struggle to find and hire people -- the latest move by Amazon doesn’t change this much. Furthermore, the vast majority of the Amazon employees who will now make $15 are warehouse/product fulfillment employees which have a slightly different skill set/work environment than most typical retailers.
  • Posted on: 10/01/2018

    Is traffic a flawed measure of engagement?

    Traffic is still one of the most important measures retailers should be tracking – and despite the fact that electronic traffic counting has been around retailing for many decades, I estimate that some 40 percent+ of retailers still don’t even measure it. Without traffic count data there is no way to measure conversion rates, and if you can’t measure conversion rates you most certainly can’t improve them. As someone who has spent almost two decades studying store traffic and conversion trends (and authored two books on the topic), I can categorically say that today retailers still generally lack focus or sophistication in the use and application of store traffic and conversion insights. As Nikki points out, there are plenty of other metrics that are useful to track, and even basic traffic and conversion insights have become more nuanced as service elements like BOPIS have become a factor, but the entire area of improving in-store conversion rates is still a largely untapped opportunity for most retailers.
  • Posted on: 09/28/2018

    Is BOPIS best when it’s done outside the store?

    The findings are not surprising. For some shoppers, BOPIS is a way to avoid checkout lines and curbside/outdoor lockers eliminates this. However, outside pick-up is simply not an option for all retailers -- think mall-based stores, for example. The other reality is that many retailers do not have extra staff to manage their BOPIS transactions, so the same store personnel who are trying to serve customers are also being required to process BOPIS pick-ups. For retailers, in-store pick-ups provide an opportunity to add on to the sale. The downside of outside/locker pick-up is that there’s no opportunity for an additional sale.
  • Posted on: 09/27/2018

    Will Amazon disrupt retail again with its new 4-star store concept?

    Not every move represents “disruption” – I think the industry has become mildly hyperbolic when it comes to Amazon. The 4-star concept is very interesting and represents yet another experiment in Amazon’s expanding retail ecosystem. The fact that the product mix is based on actual customer 4-star ratings is very cool. As far as rivals are concerned – it’s only one store, so I don’t think this will make Amazon rivals any less concerned that they already are. Ultimately, consumer acceptance will determine how far and fast this concept goes. I think this one has legs.

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