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: 05/05/2021

    Remote work is rough on big retail districts

    Traffic is the heart of brick-and-mortar retailing and the remote work trends are reducing the concentration of traffic. Retailers located in central business districts will need to hunker down and play the long game as corporate offices slowly open back up. The hard truth is that there will likely be less traffic in these areas for many months if not years, if the traffic ever returns completely. Retailers need to focus on the traffic that they do receive. The pandemic has made one thing clear – store traffic is precious.
  • Posted on: 05/04/2021

    Kroger takes flight with drone delivery test

    The idea of drone delivery captures the imagination, and the benefits if it could be implemented in an ideal world are compelling. But there’s one big problem: it’s not an ideal world. There are still many challenges with drone delivery that may never be completely resolved. First, drone flight regulations. In most places drone flights are prohibited, and so this will remain a challenge until formal flying regulations are established. Second, the five-pound maximum is problematic. Of course it works for small items but, as a grocery chain, many products won’t be suitable for drone delivery. I think the interest among these players is because the potential is intriguing and so testing and experimentation make sense, but practically drone delivery has a long way to go.
  • Posted on: 05/03/2021

    Do retailers have to catch up to Amazon’s logistics powerhouse?

    Amazon’s advantage is the combination of all these factors combined – from cost to access to information. The capability and sophistication Amazon has built would be difficult if not impossible for most if not all – including Walmart and Target – to replicate. Retailers should not try to compete with Amazon on logistics, but rather focus on the strengths they have, namely making better use of their physical stores.
  • Posted on: 04/30/2021

    Shipt and its gig workers deal with phishing attacks

    This is yet just one more example of how anything and anyone connected to the internet is vulnerable to security breaches. While organizations can take steps to mitigate the risk, the fact is there is no way to completely eliminate it, especially when third-party contractors are involved who may not apply the same rigor. Unfortunately, there are no easy answers to solve this. All businesses (and people) need to remain vigilant about data security. As long as we’re all connected by the internet, there’s a security risk.
  • Posted on: 04/29/2021

    Starbucks’ opens green innovation center

    Every business and citizen has a responsibility to do their part to help mitigate the consequences of pollution and its impact on the environment. Establishing an innovation center focused on sustainable solutions is a thoughtful approach to tackling this complex issue. And while only the largest enterprises have the resources to establish centers like Starbucks, every retailer can find ways to reduce their carbon footprint and provide their customers with more sustainable options – from the type and amount of packaging they use, to the way they design and build their stores.
  • Posted on: 04/29/2021

    Will retailers be rewarded for giving ex-cons a second chance?

    Giving people a second chance is not only the right thing to do, but I believe it will be rewarded with loyalty and commitment. I imagine that most ex-convicts who are given a second chance would likely not only be profoundly grateful, but highly productive. This is not only win-win for the ex-convict and retailer, but also for society at large as the human potential that was being wasted by non-violent offenders is put back into productive use.
  • Posted on: 04/28/2021

    Report: Amazon will surpass Walmart as America’s biggest retailer by 2025

    Yes, I believe that Amazon will surpass Walmart by 2025 – maybe even sooner. Amazon has a significantly broader market reach and marketplace that continues to expand. It’s hard to see anything that will stop Amazon’s growth, and while Walmart will continue to be a formidable competitor, Amazon has more opportunities and importantly the willingness and the financial resources to try.
  • Posted on: 04/27/2021

    Why did Amazon open a hair salon?

    While I doubt that anyone saw this one coming, it's clear that Amazon’s relentless pursuit of new markets has no bounds -- this is another example. While it’s hard to know exactly what Amazon’s long term aspirations may be for Salon, the fact that they have set up an actual salon means that they are serious enough about the opportunity. Whether this turns out to be meaningful or not, you have to give Amazon credit for for the attempt. In any case, they will collect data and learn.
  • Posted on: 04/26/2021

    What will greater access to Amazon’s customers mean for marketplace sellers?

    It’s a small step in the right direction, but only a small one. Brands need the ability to connect with their customers, and the restrictions imposed by Amazon are too restrictive. Amazon has been under pressure to be less restrictive, but they’re not going to give up control of the customer very soon or easily. I expect that the tension between Amazon and their marketplace partners will be an ongoing issue for the foreseeable future.
  • Posted on: 04/22/2021

    Say goodbye to Walmart’s robotic towers

    Efficiency and cost reductions which will impact profit are the motives for deploying this type of technology, but as this article makes clear, robots/automation don’t always beat humans. I’m impressed that Walmart abandoned this project with 300 stores already deployed – to stop the project now based on customer requirements shows a sign of maturity in their approach. Testing and then rejecting a technology solution is not a failure, it’s a learning and Walmart has become a very good learner.
  • Posted on: 04/21/2021

    Lululemon to pilot ‘Like New’ clothing test

    I strongly agree Gene. Conceptually, "Like New" makes sense on many levels -- but actually executing this well requires entirely different/new business processes.
  • Posted on: 04/21/2021

    Is Athleta’s Canadian expansion a stretch for the Gap-owned chain?

    Since Lululemon is based in Canada with a very strong following and history, I think Athleta has its work cut out for itself. Athleta has done very well, and I expect that they will continue to do so as the category continues to grow, however, I'm less convinced that expanding into Canada will have a significant impact. Remember what happened to Target when they came to Canada -- it was a bust, and Canadians were crying for Target.
  • Posted on: 04/21/2021

    Lululemon to pilot ‘Like New’ clothing test

    Like Nike’s recent announcement regarding used sneakers, I think Lululemon’s program will also do well. Lululemon is a premium brand and as such commands a high price point. Offering “Like New” will allow more cost conscious brand aspirants to enjoy the brand and have a positive impact on the environment, which is also consistent with Lululemon’s values. If retailers can figure out the logistics of managing used clothing, then I think this will be an even bigger trend – but figuring out these logistics will be a challenge.
  • Posted on: 04/20/2021

    Are pop-up shops the answer to getting reluctant shoppers back into stores?

    Pop-up stores offer a great way to test a concept or a market, but it’s no replacement for a real store. While the pop-up approach could work for any retailer/brand, I believe it’s especially useful for direct-to-consumer brands that are trying to gauge market acceptance as they make their first steps into physical retailing. And while pop-up stores offer great advantages in terms flexibility of location and short term, flexible leases, they can also present serious challenges, like limited space and incomplete/temporary infrastructure and systems.
  • Posted on: 04/19/2021

    Will American consumers push back against higher grocery prices?

    Grocers will address this the way they usually do, by raising prices which are then passed along to consumers. As prices go up, other more aggressive players will try to seize market share by maintaining discounts. We’ve seen this story play out countless times before, and so I don’t think the pandemic has created any new dynamic when it comes to dealing with price increases.

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