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.

  • Posted on: 07/30/2021

    Will throwing money at drivers solve the trucker shortage problem?

    Throwing money at this shortage is a short-term solution. When the average 46 year old male decides it's time to retire soon, they still won't have a pipeline to replace him. Despite the fact that e-commerce growth has increased the need for truck drivers, it's still not a popular industry nor one perceived in a favorable light. This is where the ATA can step in and show how the industry has evolved, with more appealing benefits and new career pathways (maybe everyone does not want to be a driver forever). The industry needs a makeover; one that reinforces the critical role truck drivers play in today's commerce-driven economy. People want to feel like their work makes a difference. Well, here is one industry where that is more true now than ever before. Better pay and benefits always help but a better industry perception can set them up for the long haul.
  • Posted on: 07/29/2021

    Store associates shouldn’t have to be the mask or vaccine police

    If retailers can have requirements of "no shirt, no shoes, no service" then why can't they also add, "no mask, no service"? It is counter productive to ask for proof of vaccine to enter stores. Then, retailers will have to pay someone to stand at the door and check (touch) proof all day long. Who is an expert in vax-proof cards? You can't read half the writing on those cards anyway. Rather, we need to go back to the beginning: wear a mask or shop somewhere else. And, limit non-essential shoppers. An entire family of four does not need to pick out ground beef together. This is not an easy line to tow, we saw it earlier when mask requirements were in force; some shoppers will just not comply. However, retailers must prioritize the health and safety of their employees. Further, if their shoppers all get sick and stop coming to their stores, then where would retailers be? Retailers have to draw the line. Masks are in. Vaccinated or not. The CDC has to support this.
  • Posted on: 07/28/2021

    Will smaller retailers pay to use Walmart’s tech and transform their own businesses?

    Consumers love to hate Walmart. Retailers and other merchants both envy and admire them. People are going to poke at this no matter what. Still, it's not likely the major retailers will get in line behind Walmart (pride is still a thing). However, for smaller players that can maximize a turn-key solution to transform their business and customer experience, this could be the holy grail; a peek inside the playbook of all playbooks. With that, the potential to showcase Walmart as making all retail boats rise, not just their own. Mostly, this is a win-win for Walmart under a carefully calculated hedge that retailers who chose this path stand little chance of threatening Walmart's leadership position.
  • Posted on: 07/27/2021

    Will ‘sound commerce’ make some noise?

    This certainly works for aspiring musicians and curious music aficionados, but I'm not sold on it compelling the average consumer to go by a saxophone. Still, this does nudge the door open a bit on a new/different kind of commerce in the experiential space. Music is a universal connector and there are so many ways to connect music to commerce and experience. This one is interesting, even if not extraordinarily scalable.
  • Posted on: 07/26/2021

    Macy’s should have stayed local

    How can you fix relevance? The decision to remove Marshall Field's from downtown Chicago was the undoing of local market success for Macy's. Big does not mean one banner. Big can be success in multiple markets under different banners. Major grocery leaders like Kroger and Ahold understand this. Department stores have delusions about being grandiose and fantastic instead of just being relatable, reasonable and relevant to their local shoppers. There is no value in back stepping the decision to unite under one Macy's banner. However, local stores can be given full authority to be local stores and connect in meaningful ways with their shoppers. There is some magic to walking into Herald Square and finding the energy/look/feel different from State Street while still being under one banner. Macy's needs to find it's magic and they need to tap into their local achieves and heritage to find it.
  • Posted on: 07/26/2021

    Should retailers continue the chatbot deception?

    Generally, the more frustrating your issue, the less you want to speak to a bot. If merchants can work in logic where bots handle basic, more functional tasks and customers have the option to speak to a human for more pressing matters, then this could be a win/win for all. However, some companies see the cost savings in automation with bots and over look the human need for compassion and empathy in more complex matters. Chat bots limited range of emotions can erode customer trust and brand favorability in critical moments and make customers feel like they don't matter; just the opposite of what bots are intended to do. It's a fine line but companies must disclose when "help" is a bot. For now, it's best to let customers decide which path they want to take. No one wants to hold for 22-minutes to get help but if a customer is willing to do it, then it's clear that their issue is important and they expect to be treated as such.
  • Posted on: 07/20/2021

    Is it time for retailers to reinstate pandemic protocols?

    The clock is ticking on a full step backwards to lockdown. Covid vaccines may reduce severe illness, but they do not prevent vaccinated people from contracting or spreading the virus. This fact alone should encourage retailers to at least require masks for employees to protect them and minimize spread. There is already a labor shortage in retail. When the employees that have stuck around throughout the pandemic can no longer ward off this virus because basic safety precautions have been discarded, what recourse will retailers have then? Undoubtedly, local guidelines will be blamed vs failure to use common sense. Masks should be required in-store for anyone who is inside of a store. Retailers who fail to enlist this requirement now will find themselves back-pedaling later -- in empty stores.
  • Posted on: 07/19/2021

    Marketers are still trying to figure out the social media data puzzle

    Social media is an excellent way for brands to understand psychographics of their consumers. However, brands actually have to read the post vs just taking everything in aggregate and trying to find a silver bullet. Social media is an under-utilized platform at building 1:1 relationships. While it's certainly not possible to engage with every consumer individually, brands can certainly make more of an effort than they are. Consumers actually believe they are communicating with brand teams when they send social media messages. It's not that much of an ask for brand teams to listen (read), if only occasionally.
  • Posted on: 07/13/2021

    Will ‘Scan & Ship’ give Sam’s a leg up on club competition?

    Smart move by Sam's. While Scan & Go may not have caught fire in its early days, Scan & Ship is ultra relevant, convenient and maintains social distancing. Not only is this a good use of technology, it's an excellent way to improve in-store experience, safely. This may very well increase revenue from items that require shipping. It's also likely that if a member uses the service three times that they would be willing to download the app the fourth time. Smart moves all around by Sam's.
  • Posted on: 07/12/2021

    Can ghost kitchens inject new life into mall food courts?

    It's doubtful that the food court alone will revamp the mall. If there is no traffic in the mall, then there is little or no traffic in the food court. Ghost kitchens can certainly raise the appeal of food options in food courts, many of which seem tired and generic. Ghost kitchens can certainly recast this light. But the malls still need to do the heavy lifting to bring in majority of the traffic. Once consumers realize the array (and quality) of options they can get from ghost kitchens, it's likely ghost kitchens will see continued growth and innovation post-pandemic.
  • Posted on: 07/09/2021

    Retailers still have a COVID-19 problem

    Once federal and local officials declared that masks are not required unless you're unvaccinated, they stripped retailers of their power to fully enforce mask requirements in-store. Most businesses will follow local guidelines. Those that try to push back and require anything different are often on the receiving end of complaints and backlash from customers. Essentially, this has put retailers in a no-win situation. Retailers know that many of the customers walking in their stores without masks are unvaccinated. It was difficult to enforce masks when local guidelines required them. It can be life-threatening to try to enforce masks now with some customers. All retailers, especially those in areas with low vaccination rates, should nonetheless try to uphold consistent requirements for masks in-store--for all customers--regardless of vaccination status. Ultimately, another spike in infections that lead to reduced store traffic or even shut-downs is only going to hurt retailers. Again. We are on very thin ice.
  • Posted on: 07/08/2021

    Could Dollar General become a go-to healthcare resource in rural America?

    This is encouraging to see: Dollar General doing what they do best, serving the under served community. Often, the Dollar General is the only local store in some rural communities. These communities need a lot more than just quick bites and beverages. Bringing even basic health and hygiene products (beyond the typically crude buy-if-you're-desperate assortment) would be welcome. Going a step further to offer affordable access to onsite nurse or PA could make this store of the community a pillar of the community.
  • Posted on: 07/06/2021

    Pinterest says it’s all about body positivity as it bans weight loss ads

    More than half of US adults are either overweight or obese. The bottom line is, most Americans need to lose weight. While there is no benefit to anyone in body shaming, having a helpful conversation about the benefits of maintaining a healthy weight has never hurt anyone. Pinterest is certainly in the right spirt of wanting to promote positive body imagery, but to take a passive approach to such a serious issue is not really helping anyone. Can some ads tone down the shaming? Yes. Not everybody is going to look like the paid actors in some ads. And, despite months of effort and dieting, most still won't come close. The point is not to shame, but to understand what is YOUR personal best. There is no reason why Pinterest can't have a healthy conversation about weight loss without shaming. This banning feels more like sticking their heads in the sand rather than using this platform to change the narrative to something more inspiring. After all, isn't inspiration their thing?
  • Posted on: 07/02/2021

    Will online reviews keep their Teflon reputation?

    According to CHEQ, 96% of online reviews are real. This is why the fake reviews have not yet had an adverse impact; it's still fine to trust most of them. But fake reviews will always be out there and sites should take steps to minimize as much as possible. The issue is not just the bot generated fakes but also the promotional incentivized fakes where consumers are rewarded for writing good reviews. This particular practice has to stop. This is one way to avoid the bot and still get a potentially fake review. Given the importance of reviews in the purchase decision, it's likely that some suppliers will continue to look for ways to tip the scales in their favor despite efforts to keep reviews honest.
  • Posted on: 07/01/2021

    Is self-checkout tech the answer for DSW and other retailers facing associate shortages?

    Certainly, self-checkout can help bridge some of the current labor shortages. I, for one, would not miss the long checkout lines at DSW and would welcome self-checkout, with or without the labor shortage. Still, retailers have only addressed surface level issues with labor shortages; more money; more benefits and making part-time workers feel like human beings are right things to do but you can't put a price on safety. What have retailers done to increase in-store safety and the safety of their employees--particularly, and sadly, from disturbed customers? It wouldn't be a stretch to say that some bartenders are more protected than retail employees today. If retailers would address this issue vs just throwing money at it, then maybe tides might turn.

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