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: 08/14/2018

    Aldi shoppers are getting curbside pickup, but do they want it?


    Offering curbside pickup and home delivery is a curious "me too" move by Aldi. Naturally some customers will want and use these services, but ultimately Aldi needs to decide if these additional services are table stakes required to compete in today’s grocery space, or costly add-ons that move it away from its low-cost market position and into the highly competitive mainstream market. I think it will be a real challenge for Aldi to maintain its low-cost image while remodeling stores and providing upgraded services. While change and evolution are important, retailers need to be careful to not chase strategies that take them too far away from their core value proposition that made them successful in the first place.
  • Posted on: 08/13/2018

    J.C. Penney goes after Babies ‘R’ Us customers with new shops

    I like J.C. Penney playing offense in this category and overall, I think it’s a good move. Starke’s point about the importance of in-store experience for the baby category is valid, but it won’t prevent online-only competitors from entering the category.
  • Posted on: 08/10/2018

    Walmart.com to offer easier returns for marketplace purchases

    Growing the range of products available to shoppers via marketplace is key for Walmart to match Amazon’s breadth -- a friendlier returns policy will help them recruit more third-party sellers. Walmart’s physical store presence remains one of their key advantages and they continue to find interesting ways to leverage it. This new returns service appears to be a smart, tactical move to enhance/grow marketplace by Walmart, but it’s not a game-changer.
  • Posted on: 08/09/2018

    Consortium is made-to-order for people who want customized brands

    While I agree with the general notion that some shoppers are seeking customized products, I’m very skeptical that this is some form of a larger trend. It’s one thing to have a successful pop-up store, it’s an entirely different proposition to create a truly successful and sustainable retail concept. I believe this concept will remain largely niche -- and it might even enjoy some success as a store-within-a-store with a department store partner looking to add to the store experience -- but likely not more.
  • Posted on: 08/08/2018

    Amazon delivers latest Prime perk to Whole Foods’ curb

    I have no doubt that the percentage of Prime members who switch to Whole Foods will only increase as Amazon continues to offer new services like free curbside pickup. While this service is not new or revolutionary, it’s just one more reason for Prime members to switch, and if there’s one thing Amazon is especially effective at it’s leveraging its very loyal Prime membership base.
  • Posted on: 08/07/2018

    Fred’s amps up the treasure hunt

    Notwithstanding the gimmicky approach, I’m sure Fred’s pricing concept will appeal to some shoppers. It’s hard to say whether the formula will scale, I suspect not. The trick to doing treasure hunt well is having a ready and reliable supply of merchandise -- if Fred’s and other retailers can keep the product offering fresh and compelling, they will have a market.
  • Posted on: 08/03/2018

    Empty malls spelled the end for Brookstone stores

    Retailers need to stop blaming “declining mall traffic” for the all their troubles. While it may be true that traffic in some malls is down, as a retail traffic analyst, I can tell you that it’s not down everywhere. The more important question is, what was Brookstone doing to convert the traffic it did get? Store traffic is vital -- it ultimately defines the sales opportunities stores have but without a focus on conversion, traffic doesn’t do much good.
  • Posted on: 08/02/2018

    Wayfair to open its first brick & mortar store

    It’s an admission that online-only has limitations. It’s an admission that brick-and-mortar stores provides powerful advantages to selling goods, and especially in the furniture category. It's an admission that to fully realize the potential of any retail business, you need to be online and offline.
  • Posted on: 08/02/2018

    Who in retailing’s c-suites should drive customer experience?

    Ultimately CX should be driven by an executive focused on and dedicated to CX -- lumping this critical function onto either the CMO or the CIO is sub-optimal. This is not about collecting data or technology platforms, it's about execution. The most telling statistic in the study is that only 17 percent felt they were very effective at delivering real-time customer interactions across touch points. It’s remarkable that, notwithstanding the advances made in CX technology and the investments retailers have made in these technologies, they still struggle with execution. Retailers need to stop the CX lip-service and dedicate executive-level focus on executing CX.
  • Posted on: 08/01/2018

    Kroger Ship to take on Amazon’s Prime Pantry

    There’s no doubt that this offering will appeal to some customers -- with free delivery on orders over $35, it’s compelling. Ultimately the questions that will need to be answered are: 1.) does this attract new/retain existing customers and 2.) can this be done in a sustainably profitable way. As was discussed in prior posts, the economics of home delivery services are terrible and I don’t imagine they will be any different for Kroger.
  • Posted on: 07/31/2018

    Walmart still trying to figure out home delivery

    This is a hard problem to solve and Walmart’s pull-back is an important proof point. Amazon has set a very high bar for home delivery options and it’s not surprising that the largest retailers are trying to find their own solutions. It’s hard to say who will find a sustainable model for grocery home delivery, but for now there will continue to be plenty of attempts either by DIY or acquiring a company with the capabilities.
  • Posted on: 07/30/2018

    Will RadioShack find new life inside HobbyTown’s stores?

    This battered and beaten brand’s time in the sun has passed. While there may be some opportunistic opportunities for RadioShack to play the "store-within-a-store" game, it sounds like a lot of smoke with not much fire -- HobbyTown is a good example of this. Does anyone think this concept actually has legs?
  • Posted on: 07/27/2018

    Retailers fail to reward long-time customers at their own risk

    I don’t think retailers are confused about the importance of loyalty, but often the complexity and/or execution of these programs can be problematic for customers. Retaining and maintaining loyal customers should be a top priority for every retailer and brand. And for many it is, though it doesn't always feel that way. My advice to retailers and brands: keep your loyalty programs simple and meaningful to customers. It’s a simple strategy that can be very difficult to execute effectively.
  • Posted on: 07/26/2018

    7-Eleven franchisees have to pay up to stay in business


    Franchise relations can be antagonistic at the best of times, but making what appears to be dramatic, sweeping demands on franchisees certainly won’t improve relations. As the franchisor, 7-Eleven corporate has the right to change policies and dictate requirements to franchisees as it sees fit. However, as is clear from this latest case, franchisees can also organize and resist changes as they see fit. While there will always be some push-pull with franchisors/franchisees, the friction is not helpful for either party and can be detrimental to the overall business in the long run.
  • Posted on: 07/26/2018

    Study: Online retailers losing billions in sales to out-of-stocks

    Out-of-stocks are a conversion killer – online or offline. Offering the proverbial endless-aisle of product online is relatively easy, but managing the inventory and distribution logistics effectively is hard. All retailers need to manage out-of-stocks and there are plenty of solutions to help them do that. However, beyond “solutions,” retailers need experienced personnel to execute.

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