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.
  • Posted on: 06/18/2018

    Is Amazon killing Barnes & Noble’s chances for a turnaround?

    There’s no question that, as the major book retailer, Barnes & Noble was at the tip of Amazon’s disruption. However, I agree with the arguments in the article that Barnes & Noble’s struggles are not all a result of Amazon. I think that inertia and denial on the part of Barnes & Noble leadership is a big reason for why they are in the difficult spot they are in today. Change is difficult and this is especially true in large enterprises that were once the leaders, like Barnes & Noble was. Not only did they not respond to the initial Amazon threat by focusing on the strengths of their physical stores, but like a frog that boils slowly until it’s too late, the initiatives that they did undertake were ineffectual.
  • Posted on: 06/15/2018

    Sam’s to open small concept focused on tech, fresh and grab-and-go foods

    Smaller-format, high-tech stores seem to be a disconnect with the warehouse “club” model. Given this apparent disconnect, it's more likely that the new smaller store format is more of a laboratory to test ideas and identify process/services that could be applied in traditional warehouse stores than a standalone concept.
  • Posted on: 06/14/2018

    Reasons you’re afraid of retail sales training and what to do about It

    Store managers and front-line associates have never been more relevant or critical to delivering a great store experience – despite the obsession some retailers have with technology. Delivering quality training to the field has always been a challenge, and the article identifies many of the most important obstacles, but I would add lack of persistent commitment to training on the part of management to the list. Once-and-done training with no followup or ongoing engagement is destined to fail. In my experience, ongoing coaching to build habit and change behavior is most effective.
  • Posted on: 06/13/2018

    Macy’s takes stake in retail-as-a-service tech firm

    These are two small but potentially important pieces of a much bigger puzzle for Macy’s. Both STORY and The Market concepts are good moves directionally, however the challenge will be executing these at scale. I suspect these will both take a considerable amount of time to be fully realized.
  • Posted on: 06/12/2018

    Should retailers incentivize store staff to accept digital transformation?

    Getting alignment from front-line staff on new digital initiatives is critical to success. Any new initiatives that potentially impact front-line employees' workload and/or compensation should be managed carefully and proactively. The key is to show employees how the new initiatives will be beneficial to customers, the business and ultimately to the employees themselves.
  • Posted on: 06/11/2018

    Too many meetings and reports undercut promos

    Many of the biggest pain points were nicely summarized in the article, but I would add emphasis to number six, post-promotion analysis. I find it ironic that, in an age where there are so many analytic tools available to marketers, analyzing results still remains a significant problem. Ultimately tools are only as good as the people who use them, and so I think the underlying issue is a lack of skills/training for marketers in using the tools and extracting the insights.
  • Posted on: 06/04/2018

    Does it pay for retailers to price-match their own websites?

    How about price transparency for the sake of delivering a great customer experience? Mismatched offline/online pricing can leave shoppers feeling like they have been misled by the retailer. Not only can that lead to an immediate lost sale, but the long-term damage of the relationship with the customer is even more concerning. While it’s true that the cost of delivery can vary by channel, and that’s in part why there are price variations, these issues are substantially incidental to customers. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that we’re seeing more price continuity with online and offline as retailers consider the long-term impact of their pricing strategy.
  • Posted on: 05/30/2018

    Is GDPR an opportunity or a threat to retailers?

    I do believe that GDPR is an important step and U.S. companies should take this opportunity to reevaluate and enhance their current data management processes. I believe that data management will play a larger role in how consumers decide who they trust and so all businesses should think carefully about how they manage personal data today. At minimum, retailers should have clear data management policies, including what information is being collected and how it is being used and make any data collected on individuals available to them upon request. Transparency is key.
  • Posted on: 05/29/2018

    Publix pulls political funding amid anti-gun protests

    In this age of social media, all companies need to consider their positions and actions carefully. Yes, I do believe that political contributions have become riskier for corporations, since it seems that any position taken is likely to upset some stakeholders. Furthermore, while I do agree that gun control is an especially sensitive and active issue, it is one of many.
  • Posted on: 05/17/2018

    Walmart drops Scan & Go tech – again

    Fits and starts are just part of evolution and I have no doubt that Scan & Go in some form will be back in the future. I think what the Walmart example shows -- and other retailers should heed -- is that even the largest, most successful retailers can struggle with delivering a successful outcome of a new technology or process. The most thoughtful retailers are smart enough to hit pause re-evaluate and adjust. It’s not failure, it’s learning, and successful retailers like Walmart understand this.
  • Posted on: 05/15/2018

    Target sees stores as key to meeting its distribution challenges

    Target is making the most of its physical store assets and this is a great example. The flow center seems like a good solution for serving smaller store formats and ultimately time will tell if the model works, requires modification or needs to be replaced by an entirely new model. Overall, I think Target is on the right track when it comes to fulfillment.
  • Posted on: 05/14/2018

    Is an on-demand workforce heading to retail’s selling floors?

    Filling in gaps with some on-demand temps could be helpful, but it’s no replacement for well-trained, permanent employees. As unemployment levels hit rock-bottom lows, it’s understandable that retailers will turn to any means available to find workers and on-demand employees could make sense for some roles, but I don’t see this changing the full-time/part-time mix dramatically.
  • Posted on: 05/10/2018

    Why is Amazon partnering with Sears again?

    In a word – desperation. I suspect that Amazon sees the Sears Auto Centers as a way to offer mechanical services to Amazon customers with very little downside. Sears will take anything it can get, and collaborating with Amazon gives Sears a small boost. But that’s all it is, a small boost. After everything Sears has been through (and continues to go through) it’s hard to see how this is anything but a Lampert lark. Sears has lost its credibility and this move won’t make much difference.
  • Posted on: 05/09/2018

    Walmart outbids Amazon for India’s Flipkart

    This deal gets Walmart both significant geographic expansion in India and logistical expertise in a burgeoning, complicated market – it also blocked Amazon’s ambitions. While I don’t see the Flipkart acquisition having an immediate impact on its war with Amazon, I do think it will prove to be a very important long-term play in the global battle for customers.
  • Posted on: 05/08/2018

    Walmart associates check out customers on the floor in pilot program

    Since check-out friction is a key cause for non-conversion, I think this is a smart move by Walmart. Too often retailers misguidedly create barriers when it comes to transaction processing instead of eliminating them, and programs like “Check Out with Me” could not only reduce check-out friction, but enhance the customer experience at the same time. While there’s merit to many of the check-out systems available, for most retailers I believe that the associated-enabled solutions present the most practical alternatives.

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