Perry Kramer

Managing Partner, Retail Consulting Partners

A retail leader for over 30 years who is currently a managing partner with Retail Consulting Partners and prior to that was a Senior Vice President with Boston Retail Partners. Perry has provided consulting services to many of the nations’ leading retailers including Meijer, Tapestry, Estee Lauder, Federal Express, Rent a Center, Tailored Brands, Finish Line and dozens of others and been published in dozens of media articles and have a strong following in the press.

Prior to acting as a consultant for the last 9 years he was CIO at a digital receipt and retail information company. Prior to that he was the VP of applications for BJ’s Wholesale clubs and held director level positions at multiple other retailers. Additionally, he is a past Chairman of the Board of Director for the Association for Retail Technology Standards (ARTS) and a co-author of the first ARTS data model and several other standards.

  • Posted on: 07/26/2021

    Should retailers continue the chatbot deception?

    Retailers, and all industries, should disclose when they are using a chat bot. This can be a very positive experience as people expect this in many cases, e.g. after a user has selected the type of problem they are trying to solve preference the next step with “Our automated system will now gather the information needed to simplify and speed the reset of your password.” To Cathy’s point, what is a bigger problem is not having an easy way to get to a human when it is needed. Transparency is best, e.g. “use our automated system or we can call you back in 90 minutes.”
  • Posted on: 06/01/2021

    Stores scramble as Nike cuts wholesale accounts

    The loss of the Nike brand to the DSWs of the world is significant and will not be fully replaced from a revenue point of view for at least a year or two at DSW, Big 5 Sporting Goods and the other impacted retailers. At the same time it allows Nike to raise its stature a notch, (and maintain a high margin) by not been available in these outlet type stores. This will also fuel the store-within-a-store concept like the relationship Macy’s has with the FinishLine stores inside of hundreds of Macy’s locations. Nike has been very smart on its direct-to-consumer strategy by having some of it flow through its name brand and having some of it flow as drop-ships from its key retailers.
  • Posted on: 05/28/2021

    Can Wilson Sports win at lifestyle fashion and consumer-direct sales?

    It is a very smart move and probably very well timed with the increased number of people working from home buying and wearing a more relaxed style of clothing. A limited number of flagship stores is a smart move. The apparel lines should have great margins and if they are well planned the use of off-price outlets could be a natural fit for a clearance/wholesale distribution of merchandise, reducing risk as they go through the learnings of what works and what does not.
  • Posted on: 05/10/2021

    Why is omnichannel sales attribution still a problem?

    This is an extension of the problem that retailers have been dealing with for over a decade now. How do you accurately account for sales, financially and in perpetual inventory, that in some way have a digital component? It started with what location gets credit for an omnichannel sale that may involve a store and an e-commerce site, including how do we calculate store associate bonuses. This then expanded to, how do we plan and allocate? Based on where the sale was financially posted or where we want the merchandise? How do we meet auditors' requirements for posting sales at the time of ownership transfer? The reality is that almost every major retailer has several custom programs that solve all of these issues based on their business decisions. It appears that Macy’s elected to move this need to the bottom of the priority list. There will need to be some type of proration of commission developed based on who was working at the time of the sale to ensure commissions are provided for these cases. It will be one more in a set of programs that are needed to evolve to meet the changing customer experience. However we cannot short-change the in-store associate in these high touch environments.
  • Posted on: 03/29/2021

    Will drop shipping become a major catalyst of online growth?

    Drop ship should be looked at as standard function for most tier 1 and tier 2 retailers with their key suppliers. However retailers need to pick and choose which suppliers they establish this model with. There is not an established and accepted industry relationship and transaction set, with each supplier trying to dictate their own processes. As a result, retailers are often forced to have unique processes for each supplier and the overhead of establishing this relationship with every supplier would not be cost productive. For key suppliers who have mature processes it is a very viable model for certain merchandise mixes for all of the reasons stated and more.
  • Posted on: 03/17/2021

    Why is gaining meaningful insights from data still so hard?

    The critical challenges are not lack of effort, spending, or technology. The major inhibitors are found in the areas of mission objectives, data stewardship and consolidation. The challenge comes from each retailer needing to define what CRM means to them and having an agreed upon customer data direction and then building to it. There are a few effective organizational models that can work as long there is a clear objective and set of guiding principles that the entire organization adheres to. This is the only way to eliminate the multiple systems and data repositories with customer data that most retailers have today. If you look to the leading grocers and membership based retailers, they mastered this years ago.
  • Posted on: 03/01/2021

    Automated checkout ‘will be everywhere’ sooner rather than later

    I agree that some type of shopper-assisted checkout will be one of the largest customer experience changes in the next five years. The Amazon Go concept is expensive and appears to deliver a good customer experience in what is probably not a cost-effective solution in a 5,000 square foot location. It meets multiple significant challenges when looking at retailers who have locations exceeding 50,000 square feet. However the concept of having the customer scan with their phone already has significant customer acceptance. This type of solution combined with RFID and other technologies including using the phone to pay or using a self-checkout device as a payment station will all continue to grow at a significant pace. The solution will vary somewhat based on the retail segment. However, the thing that will remain common across all solutions will be the use of the consumer phone as an enabler. In the high touch retail segments, we are already seeing most new POS devices/software being focused on a mobile experience.
  • Posted on: 02/22/2021

    Do grocers need to get better at planning for weather-related disasters?

    Grocers have an opportunity (a business decision) to build brand loyalty, and a sense of community involvement, by improving preparedness for weather related disasters. When storms devastated the Florida Coast BJ’s was able to open the following day, ( five to seven days in advance of most other grocery stores) by having generators to run the clubs in all of its locations, pre-staged tankers to keep the generators running, pre-staged truck-loads of water and canned foods. The communities were grateful and loyal for a long time. To a limited and reasonable point grocers should invest in the community by trying to be as prepared as possible for weather events. However they need to take a realistic approach and focus on the basics and when possible coordinate with the local communities in advance. That said, we need to be careful that some over zealous legislature does not try to regulate the individual grocer's decisions on how to invest as many can not afford the additional overhead.
  • Posted on: 02/17/2021

    Has text messaging become retail’s go-to communication tool?

    Offering texting as one of several forms of communication with consumers has become a significant customer expectation. As stated most people respond to a text message much quicker than an e-mail. Retailers need to remember this is a two-way street. Consumers will expect that same quick turn-around. A general rule was that consumers expected a reply to an e-mail from a retailer within 12 hours. I would say that it is probably three or four minutes for a text message. With this in mind retailers need to be careful what they use text messages for. Letting a consumer know their order is ready for pick up is a good use case. Trying to solve a customer service issue is probably not a good use case. Retailers must be careful to not put the square peg in the round hole and they must be ready to meet consumer expectations when they introduce texting.
  • Posted on: 02/15/2021

    Are huge marketplace seller aggregators a good thing for Amazon and retail?

    It offers growing SMB companies a growth opportunity and the ability to focus their energy on product and customer experience while leaving the logistics to a third party. Clearly there is an opportunity and need being filled by several companies in this space. The Thrasios of the world are almost like an online local chamber of commerce for the digital channel. The companies being acquired must be careful to enter into limited agreements and not sell their control over their innovation. I would be much happier if these groups also were able to leverage global marketplaces that are often key to entering markets in China, Russia, India and many other regions across the globe. I would be a much stronger supporter if these companies also looked to integrate with Walmart, Kroger, Meijer, Target and other mainstream retailers.
  • Posted on: 02/11/2021

    Will Men’s Wearhouse’s new digitally-equipped next-gen stores be a must shop?

    Men’s Wearhouse (Tailored Brands) recognized that they had a customer experience challenge and began addressing it prior to the pandemic. For years they have invested in the creation of a very strong digital channel in-store and on the web allowing them to fit and source apparel in any location anywhere in their DCs or stores in real time. Recreating the customer experience inclusive of leveraging their deep inventory, strong digital tools in their order management and customer experience tools will allow them to reinvent themselves as a stronger, smaller but still relevant shopping destination. Additionally, by recognizing that they needed to reduce store count (most of which is outside of malls - a good thing) and eliminating the significant overlap between the Men’s Wearhouse and Jos. A. Bank, and assuming they move the learnings from MW to JAB, Tailored Brands as a whole will be more relevant to the individual shopper.
  • Posted on: 02/08/2021

    Nordstrom is determined to get closer to its customers

    Every item in the agenda is based on flexibility and is foundational to future success. The challenge is going to be in executing this broad and aggressive vision in a way that delivers the greatest success early while minimizing rework (wasted dollars). Their focus on having cross brand visibility to inventory in real time and moving the inventory closer to the consumer is key. Many retailers have a similar vision, the success will be determined by building a rapidly executable roadmap.
  • Posted on: 02/04/2021

    Where does the chief digital officer fit into retail’s executive team?

    The CDO role and who they report to will vary across retail brands based on their tolerance for risk and organizations' capacity for change. To be successful they need to have enterprise level governance and influence. Additionally, I agree that the CDO must have strong and reliable data to make decisions with. The chief data officer title may be new, but the role has existed in most tier 1 and 2 organizations for a long time. The role is evolving in that it used to be about accuracy and availability and looking back at data. Now it needs to add AI and ML to those skills so that the data team provides the chief digital officer forward visibility and the ability to quickly measure success and modify innovation without waiting months to understand new initiatives' impacts.
  • Posted on: 01/28/2021

    A digital first approach is essential to retail success

    Digital first is an absolute. And I agree fast is the new norm. During 2020, successful retailers learned how, (or were forced) to make decisions in one-quarter the time they used to. A key advantage that 900-lbs gorilla in Seattle has is that it is organized for digital first. Many retailers are still struggling because they are thinking digital first, but they have not changed their organizational and operational structure to enable “fast” and digital first. This is essential for long-term success.
  • Posted on: 01/27/2021

    Will Walmart gain an unrivaled edge by automating its local grocery fulfillment?

    The use of “Local Fulfillment Centers” have been a hot topic for retailers for the last several years and the use of them will continue to expand. It is important to note that how each retailer defines what a local fulfillment center will be very different. Many will not be as grand as Walmart’s vision. These local centers are critical to enabling the balance of 1) delivering goods, with a quality experience, to the home of curbside in the one- and two-hour window consumers now expect, 2) remaining in stock on the store shelves, and 3) maintaining a reasonable margin on delivery and pick-up transactions. Walmart’s size, sheer number of locations, and R&D budget give them a strong leadership edge that others will learn from.

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