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: 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.
  • Posted on: 01/26/2021

    Will retail and brand CMOs play it safe in 2021?

    My first lesson in retail was it costs 10-fold to acquire a customer than to keep one. A key statement that I could not agree with more is “CMOs cannot reinvent and rescale everything...” I agree that expanding on existing customers should remain a top focus and must be adapted to new communication vehicles. However, the continuation of stock outages, reduction in physical mall visits, and significant change in shopping behavior is creating an unprecedented period of lack of brand loyalty. This equals opportunity for those who can successfully market and deliver.
  • Posted on: 01/19/2021

    Should store associates deliver online orders?

    What a wonderful way to build a memorable and personalized relationship. That relationship/experience (good and bad) will feed social media and word of mouth 10 times faster than any in-store experience. Done right with store staff scheduling, consumer scheduling, the right talent, and the right insurance, this could be a winning model for many specialty retailers. Get a makeup lesson at home, learn to skateboard, personalized dress fitting, etc. Having a consistent way to schedule and meet expectations with talented people will be key to growing the model.
  • Posted on: 01/14/2021

    Is Amazon on its way to becoming America’s favorite grocer?

    I’m not sure about them being number one. But they certainly will be in the top three or four in at home grocery shopping in most markets. The big advantage they have is their investment in the “to home” transportation infrastructure. We see almost every grocery chain struggling to deliver goods to homes and maintain an acceptable margin in what is a retail vertical that already has a very slim margin. Amazon will be able to do this without having to add significant delivery fees.
  • Posted on: 01/12/2021

    Convenience retailers aren’t letting the pandemic get them down

    Yes, the vast majority of convenience stores will come out of the pandemic in a better position than they went in. Much of this is because they put the convenience back in the consumer's mind. Those that have expanded into quality quick serve food products are probably at the top of the winner’s board for several reasons including a mindset around cleanliness, safety and a focus on local product lines. Additionally, since almost all of them were able to stay open during the pandemic they had an opportunity to build and educate an expanded customer base on the depth of their product lines.
  • Posted on: 01/11/2021

    What will drive consumer tech sales in 2021?

    Significant growth will continue for in-home tech to support virtual classrooms, meeting rooms and board rooms. The world jumped into work and educate from home with little time for innovation. As we stabilize and start year two there will be significant innovation in VR, security, software, and networking to transform our experience and productivity in these areas. I agree the staples such as laptops, monitors and PC will see an annualized downturn as last year's purchases work through their three to five year life cycles.
  • Posted on: 01/07/2021

    Will meatless burgers moo-ve in on beef’s market share as prices fall?

    Lowering the price will certainly help attract new customers. Lowering the price is a smart move as part of the long game. One of their goals at this point is to continue to introduce the product to new customers and this will help. As part of their strategy to introduce healthier eating consumers do not need to switch 100 percent away from beef to plant-based. Being able to introduce some more healthy meals at a similar price is a sound strategy. Once they have built up a larger consumer base, they can slowly move the prices back up to maintain their target margins.

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