PROFILE

Rachelle King

Retail Industry Thought Leader

NOTE: Comments and opinions are Rachelle’s own, not her employer’s.

Rachelle has 15 years of sales and marketing experience spanning the retail, agency and CPG industries. Her retail experience includes working on the legendary Beauty Team at CVS. On the agency side, she served as Retail Strategy Director at Geometry where she led retail strategy in the commerce and shopper marketing space for CPG, retail and finance clients including Coca Cola, Kroger and American Express. Her CPG experience includes sales planning, trade marketing and creating go-to-market strategies for industry leaders including Unilever, Pfizer and L’Oreal. In addition to traditional CPG, her experience includes consumer products licensing with sports and entertainment partners including Disney, DreamWorks, Major League Baseball and NFL.

As Director, North America Trade Marketing for The Topps Company, she established the first trade marketing department in the trading card industry and forged ground breaking partnerships with top retailers including Walmart and Target. She spent two years in Bentonville leading retail sales and marketing for a direct to retail (DTR) partnership between DreamWorks and Walmart. Her retail work spans food, drug, mass, specialty/beauty, hobby, convenience, dollar and ecommerce channels.

Rachelle holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Marketing and Advertising from Purdue University and a Master’s Degree in Management Strategy (with distinction) from NYU. Originally from the Chicago area, she’s a long-time New Yorker.

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  • Posted on: 03/02/2021

    Are short-term leases here to stay?

    The days of signing a 30-year lease are over. The pandemic may not be directly responsible for this change but it is an accelerating factor. Retailers most affected by the shift to digital commerce will be cautious about how they ease back into brick and mortar. This alone will dictate a refreshed looked at standard leasing terms. Still, in the ever progressive world of start-ups and seemingly infinite assortment of everything online, real estate firms need to be open to bringing in new and innovative merchants to keep consumers engaged. While pop-ups might work well for start ups, short-term leases might work well for DTC testing the brick/mortar waters. These options bring fresh and exciting options to retail that drive traffic. The world has changed. Leasing options must change with it in order to stay relevant to both merchants and consumers.
  • Posted on: 02/26/2021

    Is it the right time to reopen food bars?

    Opening food bars during a global pandemic is just irresponsible. No longer can we wait for federal and local governments to tell us what's safe (they have been wrong before; hello, you don't need a mask if you're not sick). It's time we use basic common sense. Just because the salad bar is open, doesn't mean you should use it. It does mean, however, that the retailer is prioritizing profits over customer safety in a pandemic. The sad truth is, most people who see an open salad bar are going to assume it's safe to use. Why else would it be open? The retailer bears some weight of responsibility for misguiding customers and suggesting something that is not true. This is not safe. With all the innovation that robotics and automation has brought to replace pre-pandemic salad bars, if a retailer is not using this innovation and is forgoing prepacked meals, then customers should shop elsewhere.
  • Posted on: 02/25/2021

    Marketers are going online more and in-person less to gather research data

    The advantages of digital research solutions are relative. If cost savings on travel and risk/liability mitigation are important, then digital research solutions are perhaps more advantageous. However, if you just look at it as: we're in the middle of a global pandemic, social distancing is a thing and nearly everyone is already stuck at home; it seems digital research is not only advantageous but also the only logical solution, for now. Notwithstanding the tactical/sensorial research that may benefit more from in-person gatherings, it's hard to find cons against digital research solutions. I would expect this is just one more pandemic-accelerated behavior that will stick around post-pandemic.
  • Posted on: 02/23/2021

    What’s so funny about authenticity, integrity and transparency?

    Really appreciate this story. It exemplifies brand promise, reason to believe and brand purpose all in one. What makes this work is that the company was born this way. So many retailers and brands are challenged when it comes to authenticity, integrity and transparency because too often they sit in a room (or hire some one to sit in a room) and think this up. It has to come from a place of meaning and purpose in order to exude meaning and purpose. One lesson here is that she didn't take out a billboard saying we operate with transparency, she just did it; during a time when we all needed brands to be a little more human. She removed the veil and let customers in. Arguably, one reason why she's able to do this is that Farmgirl is still a small company. Global operating machines are the way they are for a reason. It will be something to see if she's able to maintain this same level of authenticity, integrity and transparency as the company grows. For now, let this be a lesson to brands and retailers to be honest about who they are, be transparent about it and own it. With humility. Authenticity is one thing that cannot be made, sold or purchased.
  • Posted on: 02/22/2021

    Should suppliers help fund retailers’ omnichannel investments?

    The vendor-retailer funding relationship has always been as much a source of strain as it has been (at times) reward. Sometimes, there can seem a never-ending list of "asks" by retailers that can make supplier-partners weary to even pick up the phone But this is the nature of the relationship. Suppliers pay. Retailers sell. There are a whole host of questions that can be surfaced around fair competition for smaller retailers whose voice isn't as loud; perhaps even some questions around business ethics. But at the end of the day, suppliers and retailers have a complex, co-dependent relationship where funding can either keep them together or tear them apart any given day of the week. Still, nearly all the relationships seem to withstand these dynamics, daily.
  • Posted on: 02/19/2021

    Will 7-Eleven’s beer and wine on tap be a c-store game changer?

    If anyone knows what's going to appeal to their customers, its convenience stores. In some communities the local 7-Eleven is already a social gathering spot, so, why not take it to the next level. Customers already linger outside their doors with food and drinks. Now, they will have a place to sit inside (and probably buy more stuff). Clearly, this is not a strong proposition for long-haul drivers stopping off for a break but neighborhood locals could find it refreshing. Either way, I'm betting other convenience stores will take a wait-and-see approach before jumping on this wagon.
  • Posted on: 02/18/2021

    Is suburban retail (malls, too) primed for a comeback?

    Certainly the shift towards remote working has had, and will continue to have, an impact on urban vs suburban living. Urban cities are taking the brunt of this hit while suburban areas are reaping the benefits, including retail stores. If what we expect about consumer behavior to hold true in that behaviors formed during the pandemic will likely stick around after the pandemic, then the suburban landscape could be changed post-pandemic--from a geography and real estate perspective. However, once the pandemic is over and urban-turned-suburban dwellers start to realize cost saving benefits, I'd venture that travel and tourism will benefit faster than the local malls.
  • Posted on: 02/17/2021

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

    The more we rely on third parties to fulfill our grocery orders, the more we open ourselves up to the need for increased communication, there is no way around it. Merchants and brands who manage text messaging smartly (using opt-in rules) can actually benefit from increased customer satisfaction. Those who abuse it will feel the impact down stream. Few things are more annoying than unsolicited messages from merchants and brands, whether you do business with them or not. No doubt text messaging has become a more accepted way to keep customers in the know but merchants and brands have to remember the what and how often is the customer's choice, not theirs.
  • Posted on: 02/16/2021

    Walmart discovers a unique craft beer on Instagram. Will this become a thing?

    Since retailers can't send teams to obscure corners of the earth to find their next best thing, digital and social media sites will have to do. And, this is not a bad thing. Increasingly, homebound consumers are turning to digital media to learn just about everything. Why not craft beers? Very smart (but not surprising) for Walmart to be attuned to this and move on it quickly. However, there are a million craft beer stories out there. So, it's not just about getting your product online but its also about having meaning and purpose behind your brand that resonates with retailers and their consumers. Weathered Souls delivered impressively on brand purpose; no doubt raising the bar for stories to come.
  • Posted on: 02/15/2021

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

    It's one thing to start an online business and do fairly well on your owned/operated sites. It's another things to expand distribution outside of your owned channels and play by someone else's terms. Suddenly things like agility, scale, supply chain management and even customer service take on a whole new meaning. Often smaller start ups need help in smartly managing this expansion. If smaller companies can productively grow by leveraging fine-tuned operational logistics of more nimble business partners then this could be win-win for both. It's just has to be lucrative for the small business owner and it should still create a fair and competitive shopping experience for consumers.
  • Posted on: 02/12/2021

    Whole Foods gets a lot right and wrong

    This is what happens when large corporations, that have no corporate competency about the business they just acquired, try to manage that new business. Usually valued points of difference, like Whole Foods' leadership in fresh quality produce, get lost behind efforts to drive efficiencies, like driving down costs with discounts for customers who already have enough disposable income to pay for Prime membership. Factor in the accelerated shift to online fulfillment and yes, Amazon has been in over its head for quite some time. Still, I would not under estimate Amazon's ability to recalibrate and get it right with Whole Foods. Their relentless focus on customer satisfaction is hard to match in any industry.
  • Posted on: 02/11/2021

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

    Men's Wearhouse has certainly reimagined their in-store shopping experience. This brings a new level of high-touch to tailored clothing with a near seamless integration of digital to physical. Still, I have some lingering doubt about the long term financial impact. Is the need to reimagine the experience or the offering? Rebecca Minkoff stores are a good testament that the novelty of smart mirrors wanes over time. So, it's good to see growth areas like casualwear and rental getting more prominent space. At the end of the day, experience is best optimized in combination with relevance. Long term, Men's Warehouse will need to deliver on both.
  • Posted on: 02/10/2021

    Will big food brands turn to home-delivered meals to drive future growth?

    Almost all acquisitions are about acquiring new ecosystems, channels or IP. That's no different for Nestle in this case. They are not really in need of acquiring a brand, but Freshly gives them full access to a relevant and growing distribution channel. So long as they stay true to the brand purpose, there is nothing but upside here for Nestle.
  • Posted on: 02/09/2021

    No sweat. Target’s activewear brand’s sales move past $1B

    Strategically, this is not a vastly different approach from Walmart's recent launch of Free Assembly. More and more, retailers continue to bring key initiatives in-house. In this case, Target is smart to focus on something the whole world needs right now, comfortable activewear for the (let's be honest) less active home-bound workforce. Of course this would pay dividends, it's relevant, affordable, accessible and fashionable. Unlike Walmart, Target may not have to work quite as hard to convince consumers to associate fashionable apparel with their brand. This may give Target the competitive advantage over other retailers who are undertaking the same strategy.
  • Posted on: 02/04/2021

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

    If the role of the chief digital officer has not changed or evolved over this last year then the company is not keeping up with the accelerated pace of digital commerce. Many retailers are still trying to define their digital strategy. Undoubtedly, it's evolving weekly, if not daily. The chief digital officer can play a critical role in connecting commerce throughout the organization, driving out inefficiencies and optimizing integration. The key is to hire smartly and break down internal silos that often diminish full potential of this role.

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