PROFILE

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.

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  • Posted on: 10/12/2021

    Should retailers set time guarantees for curbside delivery?

    Making a blanket guarantee to have products available in a very short window is an appealing approach to many customers. From a retailer's point of view, it sounds like a lot of risk when considering the challenges hiring and retaining staffing and in-store sales traffic. The critical component in this area is to be able to commit a time for availability and meet that commitment. Consumers expect a time commitment to flex up and down. However they also expect accurate and frequent communication and meeting those commitments. Grocers are often going to an appointment-based approach which I think will continue to proliferate for larger purchases.
  • Posted on: 10/04/2021

    Will JCPenney’s ‘new, inclusive beauty experience’ relaunch be a hit?

    J.C. Penney is working through the short-term loss of Sephora as a destination location. However in the long term the broader set of products appealing to a broader set of customers in a demographic that may be better aligned to J.C. Penney's is a win. Adding buyers and owned inventory and the associated supply chain issues to the mix, though, will ramp up costs that will have a longer payback cycle that everyone hopes J.C. Penney can work through.
  • Posted on: 10/01/2021

    Is working in retail a real job?

    To change the perception and inspire more people retailers must continue to refine an advancement path, focus on providing benefits for more positions and working to increase the number of full-time positions. These changes and others need to be messaged through an increased recruiting process at the community college and university level. Retailers have a tendency to spend unnecessary recruiting dollars and ignore significant talent they may have in their stores when they are recruiting for corporate positions. Making these changes and leveraging social meeting to promote the messages will slowly turn the tide for some. However the segment of the population that is trying to live in the gig mentality will always see retail as a temporary landing. I’m a person who ran a register and was a department manager coming out of college and made it to the CIO level. There are thousands of similar stories that need to be leveraged.
  • Posted on: 09/29/2021

    Will layaway programs go away for good (or bad)?

    Buy now pay later transactions are continuing to grow as can be seen in Mastercard’s recent announcement to build its own multi-payment post-purchase card process. The buy now pay later transactions offer retailers significant inventory advantages. Instead of the retailer acting as the consumer's closet and having to restock canceled layaways after peak shopping days and missing markdowns the merchandise is now paid for and in the actual customer's closet. Certain niche retailers may continue to offer layaways, but I would expect the use of layaways to wane. It is also interesting to note that the layaway transaction has been dropped from the majority of the POS software available.
  • Posted on: 09/24/2021

    Destination XL Group proves a unique fit for customers who don’t like to shop

    DXLG does have a model that will last because of their focus on omnichannel experience and quality products and partners. Their understanding that the significant majority of shopping experiences cross the digital channel at some point is critical to success. Also, their commitment to their specific segment with clothing that is specifically tailored for the segment will differentiate them. One of my best friends is 6 feet 6 inches tall and his wife starts most of their shopping online and finishes in the store and is very loyal to the brands that fit best. This segment is as much about the person buying the clothes as it is the person for whom the clothes are bought.
  • Posted on: 09/16/2021

    Online grocery shopping is pretty much all about convenience

    The customer is looking for reliability and quality in addition to convenience. The key parts of convenience that many retailers still struggle with are having the products/brands that the consumer desire in stock, having a consistent delivery that matches the customers schedule, and having strong interactive communication about the order status. Until these foundational elements are mastered the rest will keep many customers away as pandemic conditions subside.
  • Posted on: 08/27/2021

    Do retailers need a chief data officer?

    The need for the role has been evolving for the last 15 years, and continues to grow in importance. For retailers that capture customer data, this information is one of the retailers’ most valuable and complex assets. Overlaying customer data with the increasingly complex set of merchandise data (attributes and supply chain visibility) has been a growing challenge for retailers. Combining these two sets with the rapidly evolving omnichannel fulfillment/delivery experience offers tremendous opportunities for cost savings and increased sales if the data is managed correctly. I’m not sure it needs to be a “C” level position. However the role clearly needs to be a leadership position in the IT organization. In addition to being responsible for maintaining the integrity of the data the position should also be responsible for the delivery and definition of the data and key reporting definitions. Almost every retailer has multiple reporting platforms and teams that should be rationalized under this role. There are also dozens of other data points that should fall under the purview of this position including planograms, traffic counting, HR data, scheduling and WFM data, and dozens of similar applications with data.
  • Posted on: 08/23/2021

    Are Home Depot and Lowe’s about to hit a sales wall?

    The largest challenge DIY has right now is evolving the product mix to meet demand and keeping their supply chain full. If they can keep the products that consumers want in stock they will continue to see sales growth and some loyalty. The continued demand to evolve the home office and the increased cost of homes will contribute to strong consumer demand for several years. COVID-19 was a significant catalyst for the way that people see investing in their homes now that they spend more time in them.
  • Posted on: 08/16/2021

    Are four drive-thru lanes better than two?

    The new concept is a win. Their willingness to experiment and evolve is what is most important. I drove by a Dairy Queen this weekend that had over 20 cars in line and a person directing traffic in the parking lot. The consumer demand is clearly present. Those retailers that continue to improve the experience will win the business and at least the short-term loyalty. The ability to support multiple models that give a consistent level of service is key.
  • 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.

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