Michael Terpkosh

President, City Square Partners LLC

A wholesale, retail and supply-chain leader with demonstrated success developing and executing strategic initiatives in category strategy, merchandising, marketing, and consumer insights. Strong record creating innovative programs to meet the challenges of ever-changing industries. Experience consulting with manufacturers and retailers domestic and abroad. Leader of many company-wide initiatives delivering enhanced business efficiencies while creating new sources of company revenue. Managed teams from 12 to 175 associates locate across the United States.

  • Posted on: 09/11/2019

    WRT #digitaltransformation success

    There are two additional factors to consider when modernizing analytical infrastructure. First, beyond internal collaboration, there needs to be better external collaboration between retailers and manufacturers. Most retailers and manufacturers don't have the depth of resources necessary to go down this path alone. Only through enhanced collaboration can both parties achieve the analytical insights that result in driving sales. Second, many retailers can't afford huge IT projects and they struggle everyday with how to economically aggregate disparate data sources. The retailers also struggle with how to effectively use data analytics to find actionable insights. Analytical infrastructure solutions must be cost-effective for these retailers. Otherwise, the definition of "best in class" will only refer to retailers with deep pockets.
  • Posted on: 09/09/2019

    Ace Hardware builds through acquisition in the do-it-for-me market

    This is a coming together of two business that can mutually support each other. Ace Hardware has the products for the Handyman business and Handyman can tell customers that the local Ace Hardware is supplying the products for home fixes. In many towns the local hardware store is considered to be providing a "community service like retailing" for the consumers in the towns. I agree Baby Boomers will be excited about this service. So will Millennials who are more likely to hire someone to come in-home for projects.
  • Posted on: 09/05/2019

    Whole Foods wants a hand from shoppers at checkout

    This technology has been around, in some shape or form, for a long time. I do think it crosses privacy lines for most customers. In reality, since Amazon (or any other retailer) has your credit card on file, we should be more concerned about keeping our credit card data safely locked away. If Amazon really wants to speed up the checkout they should concentrate on other less technical things to help move folks through the checkout process faster.
  • Posted on: 09/04/2019

    Simple answers to fix retail’s loyalty marketing mess

    A common shortcoming I see in loyalty programs is when a retailer collects all the loyalty data and -- nothing happens! The retailer has huge amounts of customer loyalty data, but does not have the people power or time to do the analytics necessary to gain any actionable insights. If you can't do the analytics, you can't customize your loyalty program, know what is working or understand if your spend is worth the investment. A wise man from a syndicated data company once said: "Data that is not actionable is nothing more than overhead."
  • Posted on: 09/03/2019

    Walmart and BuzzFeed deliver shoppable recipes

    I don't see shoppable recipes being a key driver for online grocery selling. There may be some impulse shopping from online customers, but it will not be a driving force. Folks that love to cook at home also love the shopping experience of finding key ingredients in-store and online. Plus as a retailer, if your online shopping platform is as "easy to use" as the retailer markets it, then searching for ingredients should not be a time consuming burden. I feel that recipes in-store and online are one step removed from meal kits. Some folks will love them, but most consumers will maintain their shopping routines.
  • Posted on: 08/28/2019

    Innovation: Are retailers trying to do too much?

    Based on the past in retail, here is what happens way too often. A retailer opens stores, becomes successful and then starts to fine-tune the retail format. Before you know it, the retail store has changed and the customers stop coming. I totally agree retailers must stick to their core value proposition FIRST. Know the consumer, give them compelling reasons to shop your store, turn them into customers and then stay focused on how best to keep them coming back for more. Nothing wrong with innovation, but it does not replace knowing the customer and excellent customer service.
  • Posted on: 08/16/2019

    Pfizer relies on multiple data sources for better shopper insights

    Use of multiple data sources is now table-stakes for any retailer or CPG to achieve the in-depth level of consumer insights necessary to effectively compete. The consumer today is expecting personalized offers and product offerings. The only way to achieving the insights necessary to make consumer personalization happen is with multiple sources of data. However, there are two core challenges to effectively using multiple sources of data. First, the retailer (and CPG partners) must have effective and efficient data solutions to aggregate these disparate data sources and update this on a regular basis. Syndicated market data, POS data, consumer panel data, etc. does not magically all fall into place in a convenient format that allows for actionable insights. As Zel Bianco states in his post, there needs to be friendly user interfaces that present the data in a way allowing business users to find actionable insights to capture the consumer interest and purchase. Second, we can't forget that, although all of these great data sources exist today, there is still much retailer hesitation about sharing data with other business partners. This concern (almost a phobia) must be overcome by the retailer to allow their CPG partners access to their POS and customer data. Only when these partnerships reach a level of trust to share data will the data aggregation solutions work and the consumer insights will come to light.
  • Posted on: 08/15/2019

    New site wants to make independent grocery jobs into careers

    I commend the NGA for starting the job board and putting some resources towards this growing problem. However, I also believe more needs to be done to create a "pipeline" of great retail talent moving into a career path for grocery retailers and wholesalers. Let's be honest, working in the grocery business is hard work and unless a part-time employee develops a passion for the business the talent will be lost to other industries. On the other hand, there is great talent out their today working in grocery stores that have no idea about the career opportunities in the business because there is no communication, meetings, webinars or trainee programs to connect the talent to the long-term career opportunities. To be truly effective, these efforts must be at the local level connecting retail grocery employees to retail and wholesale management teams. I am not talking job fairs. I am talking well thought-out programs that are sustainable over time by management to create the passion for the business in the next generations of grocery retail employees.
  • Posted on: 08/08/2019

    Whole Foods gets serious about partying

    I echo Paula Rosenblum's comments. I don't understand why Whole Foods is getting into this business. A build out to a full section? Party City should not be concerned, or Target or Walmart. Whole Foods stores are already bursting at the seams since the stores are typically smaller. There is just not enough shelf space for all the new, innovative natural/organic items entering the market. Whole Foods should be more concerned about staying on trend with natural/organic innovation. I too am becoming unhappy with Whole Foods. My main issue is I am seeing more "conventional items" (Whole Foods term) creeping into their item mix, meaning you need to really pay attention when shopping or you end up paying a premium for a mainstream item. Makes you wonder if Whole Foods is drifting away from from the strategic path that made it successful.
  • Posted on: 08/06/2019

    What are the signs of a dying retail business?

    I can add two more telltale signs that a retail business is failing: One - The revolving door of retail senior management. If the average tenure of the executive team is 2-3 years, there is no way a clear strategic path can be set to revive the retailer. All this short-term tenure does to the retailer employees is a "recreate the wheel scenario" over and over again from the new executive team. Two - A retailer starts a deep discount promotion plan to increase store traffic, hoping to increase sales. However, after a handful of months the deep discounts are pulled back when gross profit tanks. Retail prices go up, promotion tactics are reduced for the sake of making more gross profit for the year. Then the retailer repeats the cycle. Both of these telltale signs are just vicious cycles that upsets the employees and customers and ultimately speeds up the demise of the retailer.
  • Posted on: 08/01/2019

    CPG companies spending more to use less packaging

    There is no doubt the consumer is expecting (even demanding) that CPGs catch up to creating sustainable packaging. For the environmentally aware consumer, they want the packaging to be just as environmentally friendly as the product in the package. The demands of the consumer and Amazon to reduce packaging will create a dilemma at the shelf -- more space. CPGs have prided themselves for decades on using packaging to maintain their shelf space. Reduce your packaging, more space opens up. It will be interesting to see what retailers do over time. Carry more items? Reduce shelf sets? Reduced packaging will actually help retailers that are downsizing their stores to carry greater variety in a smaller space for their shoppers. The disturbing trend for me, pointed out by Matthew Stern in his opening comments, is that 51 percent of polled CPGs are doing more with single-serve packaging. This in most cases creates more packaging not less. Yes it is convenient (like single serve coffee pods) but it a huge increase in the amount of packaging. More packaging innovation is needed in single-serve to make it environmentally friendly.
  • Posted on: 07/30/2019

    How do brands maintain their cool?

    Growing from a new or little known brand to "mass cool" is dependent on a large number of factors that come together, sometimes with luck, to have the right product at the right time for the consumer. Coolness always moved from fad to trend and if a brand is well received, to become a lifestyle brand. Otherwise, the brand is no longer cool. The ability for an organization to stay cool is dependent on the brand staying out-front of the consumer fads and growing trends. It is critical to expand offerings of the cool product(s), but innovation and expansion into additional products is critical to maintaining growth as your initial products become "uncool" in decline. A portfolio approach is key to survival. The plant-based meat category is a great example. This category was popular with the vegans and vegetarians of the world for a long-time. The category is now breaking out into the mainstream and becoming a trend. The question is whether the innovators (Beyond Meat, etc.) will become mainstream brands for more lifestyles. Expanding their offerings is critical to on-going success and staying "mass cool" in the marketplace.
  • Posted on: 07/25/2019

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

    I also don't think Amazon has "destroyed the retail industry across the U.S." Amazon is the latest "boogeyman" in a long line of previous monster competitors like Walmart, Pet Food Warehouses, Home Improvement giants, Boston Market (take out meals), and way back in the day A&P (trying to be a national supermarket). You could argue Sears with their catalog business in the 1800s destroyed the pioneer town general store. However, I do agree some "government inquiry" can be a good thing to keep things in check-and-balance competitively. I have participated in many panel discussions and presentations where I maintain the "boogeyman" of competition has made retail business more efficient, stronger and more progressive to answer the changing needs of the consumer. To continue winning a great retailer must stays focused on understanding the consumer, creating value to move the consumer to a customer and then providing retail excellence moving the customer to a loyal shopper. There will always be a "boogeyman" lurking in the shadows, ready to pounce on a retail channel. Great retailers remain diligent and prepared for the challenges in the shadows.
  • Posted on: 07/23/2019

    How long is the customer journey?

    I am joining this discussion later in the day today and I see some common themes from the RetailWire Experts. Price points do matter and the more expensive the purchase, the more research (meaning independent sources AND social opinions) are necessary for the consumer to feel good about the purchase. However, I don't know that we can equate number of sources to the length of time to purchase. The idea of "frictionless" consumer understanding and shopping is also key. I like the term "seamlessness" across bricks, clicks, social media, etc. for the consumer to be satisfied about a purchase. My personal feeling is frictionless or seamlessness will become less and less generational because of mobile devices. Here is an example. Last week my wife, my 17 year old and I were shopping in some little boutiques in a nice little town in Minnesota. My 17 year old spotted a great coat from a Swedish company. The owner of the boutique was very helpful with sizes and colors. However, my son wanted to wait on the purchase, so we headed to have lunch. At lunch he immediately took out his phone and Googled the company looking for other colors, checking price points, etc. End of the story ... after lunch we went back to the store and bought the coat. The price online was cheaper, but when you factored in shipping and wait time, it was a no brainer to buy at the boutique. The amount of time from seeing the coat (potential impulse) to actual purchase was lengthened because of research, but it was a seamless process and no buyer remorse.
  • Posted on: 07/19/2019

    What does it take to develop top retail store managers?

    I totally agree with Art Suriano's comments and many of the other folks contributing to the discussion. Over the years, I have seen the role of "Store Director" or "Store Manager" reduced from time to manage a store team to doing tactical tasks. Stock shelves, run registers, refresh produce, clean floors, etc. Because of expense reductions (reduce the labor costs in the store) the "management" in the job description of these individuals has all but disappeared. Finding good/great store management is difficult in today's employment market. It is hard work and long hours. What these Store Directors and Store Managers need is more labor to do the tactical tasks so they can concentrate on managing the team and leading customer service efforts. Better, proactively managed retail teams improves customer service that equates to more loyal shoppers and incremental sales increases.

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