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: 08/22/2019

    Will shoppers thank heaven for mobile checkout at 7-Eleven?

    Checkout speed is especially important in the convenience category, and the implementation of an effective mobile checkout service will become increasingly important over time. There’s no question that Amazon’s Go format was a catalyst and the efforts by 7-Eleven will cause other players to step-up.
  • Posted on: 08/21/2019

    Do social influencers have the ability to boost back-to-school sales?

    Social media is impacting consumers in many ways, and back-to-school is no different. But while social media may have some influence on particular brands or products, I don’t believe that it will result in any major impact on the back-to-school selling season. All retailers should be mindful of the ways they can influence shopper behavior with social media, but it’s just one element of many to make for a successful back-to-school season.
  • Posted on: 08/20/2019

    Is technology really making stores more like the web?

    Completely agree Bob. What many retailers think is a traffic problem, is more often a conversion problem. Technology can be a powerful enabler, but if you under-staff your stores with unmotivated, untrained and disengaged employees, technology won't make much difference.
  • Posted on: 08/19/2019

    Will a rental subscription program lift Banana Republic’s results?

    While I understand the allure of a rental subscription service to management, I believe there are a number challenges with Banana Republic's launch of Style Passport. The brand is struggling to get shoppers to want their products, and offering them as a rental subscription isn’t going to make the brand more desirable. Furthermore, the cost to implement a program like this, which includes delivery and laundry will likely prove to be seriously unprofitable. If the goal is to breathe a little new life into a tired brand, I don’t think Style Passport is the ticket.
  • Posted on: 08/14/2019

    Nordstrom’s Local concept needs work

    I don’t think the showrooms are shortchanging customers, but I do believe there is a real risk of customers being confused when they get to the store and not fully realizing what Local was intended to do. The fact is, Local is essentially designed as an extension of Nordstrom’s main stores, not a replacement for them. Driving an abundance of shopper traffic to a Local location is not the point – the point of Local is to provide Nordstrom shoppers more convenient options for post-purchase services like pick-up, returns alternations, etc.
  • Posted on: 08/13/2019

    Is Nike’s new subscription program for kids a parent’s best friend?

    This is an interesting offering and I give it better than even odds of being successful. Unlike many subscription services that encourage consumption for the sake of it, the Nike offering provides a direct consumer benefit by providing an ongoing way for kids to always have the right size (and style) shoes. For some parents, this will be a meaningful benefit. For Nike, this will capture new consumers early in life and hopefully build strong brand loyalty as the children grow up.
  • Posted on: 08/12/2019

    Nike to marry predictive analytics and RFID to optimize inventory performance

    Matching inventory to consumer demand is critical to reducing out-of-stocks and improving in-store conversion rates. Using RFID to improve inventory tracking and using predicative analytics to allocate product at the micro-market level is a smart and practical application of these technologies that substantially already exist. By aquiring Celect, Nike is demonstrating how important it believes this capability is for their future. When well executed, this approach could benefit any retailer.
  • Posted on: 08/07/2019

    Would a fashion collaboration work for Starbucks?

    The Starbucks brand is strong and so leveraging it to extend into other categories – coffee related or not – has a reasonable probability of success. Leaders like Starbucks are always looking to grow, and meaningful brand extensions like the ones described in the article are a good way to do this. The same can apply for other retailers with strong brands, like Lululemon for example which could extend into a category like health foods and likely do well. This all said, retailers pursuing brand extensions need to be careful to not over-extend their brands into areas or with partners where their brand could be damaged.
  • Posted on: 08/06/2019

    What are the signs of a dying retail business?

    Agreed Jeff. Foot traffic is only valuable if it gets converted into a sale -- declining conversion rates is a telltale sign that the retailer has serious problems.
  • Posted on: 08/06/2019

    CVS subscription program goes big to outdo Amazon Prime

    This program simply makes sense, and the compelling pilot test results confirm it. I expect that this program will deliver great results when rolled out nationally. A subscription service is ideal for prescription drugs that need to be constantly re-ordered. And while pharmaceuticals can be purchased from Amazon, I believe that some consumers would prefer the extra confidence they have purchasing directly from a trusted pharmacy chain like CVS who has a well established reputation and pharmacists on staff.
  • Posted on: 08/01/2019

    Should Simon Property Group bail out (invest in) more retail tenants?

    I think the relationship between mall operators and tenants needs to change, and Simon Property Group is perfectly positioned to do so. Unlike private equity firms, mall operators have a vested interest in the success of their tenants. Mall operators should explore investments in struggling retailers, whether that’s direct investments or other support services. And mall operators should also be exploring alternative use for spaces that drive traffic opportunities into the mall. Ultimately the success of malls will be tied to the success of the retail tenants and a closer, more collaborative relationship will be better for all.
  • Posted on: 07/31/2019

    Are store robots cute, creepy – or nearly useless?

    Robots still have a long way to go – but they’ll get there. These are still very early days of the deployment of robots in retailing, and while the example of Marty may leave many wondering how the ROI could ever make sense, what Giant Food is doing is learning – and that’s very valuable. There is no question in my mind that robots will take over many of the mundane and repetitive tasks which are being done by humans today. From floor washing and stock checking to helping customers navigate the store, the possibilities are endless. However, the cost of acquiring and maintaining this technology is still prohibitive and the practical value negligible.
  • Posted on: 07/30/2019

    The clock is ticking for J.C. Penney

    Significantly changing the trajectory of a business the size of J.C. Penney will be very difficult. Ms. Soltau and her team have their hands very full, and the market is watching every move they make. So far, the initiatives undertaken have been relatively modest and incremental. Dressing room stylists and educational classes will not deliver the change that’s needed. J.C. Penney needs a serious makeover, not incremental window-dressing and it seems like precious time has already been lost. Rationalize the store base, focus back on driving conversion of the shoppers already in the store and getting back to positive comps should be the focus.
  • Posted on: 07/29/2019

    Is private equity ownership killing retail?

    Not all private equity is "bad," however the results speak for themselves – 10 out of the 14 largest retail chain bankruptcies since 2012 were at PE-acquired chains. Retail businesses seems to be especially vulnerable to unscrupulous PE operators because of their large asset holdings (mostly real estate) and large employee bases where pension plans and benefits can be cut or scaled back. Notwithstanding the potential for unintended consequences – including fewer options for failing retailers – I think there should be extra scrutiny in PE deals where a large number of employees are concerned. In particular, there should be additional protections for existing pension obligations.
  • Posted on: 07/25/2019

    Has Amazon ‘destroyed the retail industry’ in the U.S.?

    I wholeheartedly agree with Neil. Amazon may be portrayed as the "bad guy" of retailing today, but it wasn't that long ago that Walmart was held up as the "retail killer" -- it wasn't. If anything Amazon is pushing the retail industry in new directions which is causing retailers to compete in new ways.

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