PROFILE

Ralph Jacobson

Global Retail & CPG Sales Strategist, IBM

Ralph Jacobson is the Global Consumer Products Industry Marketing Executive for IBM. He is responsible for marketing IBM Consumer Products Industry Solutions to clients in areas including business strategy, operations and the consumer experience.

Ralph has worked in the CP and retail industries for more than thirty years. For more than a decade, Ralph has consulted to more than one-hundred clients around the globe, from Shanghai to Saudi Arabia.

Originally Ralph began his professional career at the largest supermarket company in Chicago, where he worked in store operations and marketing for seventeen years. He is married with two sons and resides north of Los Angeles, California.

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Building a Smarter Planet Blog

Only 40+ years in the Retail & CPG Industries. Let's talk about your business challenges sometime soon! Maybe I've seen them before somewhere in the world, like Shanghai, Saudi Arabia or Bangalore!
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  • Posted on: 08/14/2018

    ‘Less is more’ when competing with Amazon

    Although shopper studies have shown for decades that consumers want large assortment, actual purchase behavior invariably shows the old 80/20 rule that 80 percent of revenue comes from less than 20 percent of SKUs.
  • Posted on: 08/13/2018

    Can AR help shoppers get where they need to go?

    Can retailers provide these technologies for those shoppers who would be interested? Sure. However, this is such a small segment of the overall shopper audience for most retailers that there are about a hundred other opportunities, like BOPIS, in-stock conditions, loyalty, labor expense management, etc., that will take priority in the near term.
  • Posted on: 08/08/2018

    Can retail compete for computer science graduates?

    One of the best ways to mitigate the shortage of data scientists is to invest in technology that doesn't require them! There are some great tools available today from several vendors that have reduced or eliminated the need for highly-skilled administrators.
  • Posted on: 08/06/2018

    Are outsiders required to tackle disruption?

    Fresh, unbiased perspectives should always be welcomed at into strategic roles in any company. Seasoned decision-makers can add immense value to organizations when they don't possess the inherent prejudice of the industry. I think this is a great thing to leverage.
  • Posted on: 08/03/2018

    Will in-home 3D scanner drive online clothing sales?

    History has shown that the more convenient you make every aspect of shopping, the more consumer adoption will occur. As this spreads to other industries, like healthcare, energy, etc., the more competitive technology will become.
  • Posted on: 08/02/2018

    Who in retailing’s c-suites should drive customer experience?

    Some great comments already, so I'll keep mine simple: Retailers need to drive a culture that engenders, "If you're not personally helping a customer, then you should be helping someone who is." I don't see one function in the business as more critical than another for ensuring a seamless customer experience. Sure, you can assign a Chief Customer Officer if you need one throat to choke, however the culture is key, and living that culture is the critical aspect.
  • Posted on: 07/31/2018

    What can retailers do about consumer’s AI concerns?

    As consumers learn more real facts about a trend, they become more willing to adopt the trends themselves. I remember when privacy concerns first emerged and fears of the unknown drove panic in the streets. Yet, today although privacy concerns are still very much top of mind, shoppers are very willing to share their personal information with brands they trust. The same will be true for AI. Today, it is largely a fear of the unknown and/or that machines will take over the world -- and our jobs. The truth is that man and machine are better than man OR machine. This is more about augmented [human] intelligence. As AI evolves, chatbots and other consumer-facing technologies will become more accepted and in-demand.
  • Posted on: 07/30/2018

    Retail’s new cobbling economy

    Since the retail landscape is still rapidly evolving across online and offline markets, I would continue to execute a strategy that makes a big splash where your specific, target audience is not just currently shopping, but also hanging out, both online and in the physical world. There will be portions of both gigging and cobbling required at this point.
  • Posted on: 07/27/2018

    Can store associates do anything about rude customers?

    Well said, Cathy!
  • Posted on: 07/27/2018

    Retailers fail to reward long-time customers at their own risk

    This reminds me of a major airline that lost my $50,000+/year business to their chief competitor for a similar reason. I have had this happen with a major hotel chain for which I handed them my "loyalty" membership card when they refused to find me a room to replace the one they bounced me out of regardless of their "guaranteed" late arrival. Bottom line, train your customer-facing staff to acknowledge the tenure of the person in question before they immediately default to the "sorry, we cannot help you" approach.
  • Posted on: 07/27/2018

    Can store associates do anything about rude customers?

    The key is not to fuel the fire. Train your staff to "kill 'em with kindness" and never let the shopper get the best of their patience. Staff can commiserate after their shift and blow off steam.
  • Posted on: 07/26/2018

    Study: Online retailers losing billions in sales to out-of-stocks

    Great points, Sterling!
  • Posted on: 07/26/2018

    Retailers throw ‘hiring parties’ to reach staffing goals

    As we discussed in the past, the first challenge is to drive brand awareness, loyalty and value. A major global retailer (and manufacturer) that we all know has done this. When they opened their store in NYC years ago, 3,000 lined up outside the store to apply for 400 openings. But yes, events like those mentioned in the article are definitely worthwhile.
  • Posted on: 07/26/2018

    Study: Online retailers losing billions in sales to out-of-stocks

    As a guy who has been in retailing since 1976, I can tell you that managing out-of-stocks has been a perennial challenge since then. And "all the King's horses and all the King's men" cannot seem to move the needle. The numbers found in this study are almost exactly the same as a study in the '90s that I remember. Online and offline, out-of-stocks are the single largest factor in driving optimized revenue achievement. This will not change until we take this seriously. First, we need to take the human error factor out of the equation. There are tools in the marketplace today that can more than make up for the human touch. A couple innovative retailers are implementing these tools and leveraging AI as we speak.
  • Posted on: 07/25/2018

    Lessons from Comic-Con – the world’s biggest pop-up store

    Great perspective, Patricia! This is all about the loyal (AKA "cult") following that drives passion for the brand(s)/entities at the event. At least one retailer in the comments has been mentioned, however even that brand lacks the maniacal following of Comic-Con entities. If retailers can capture this brand intensity via their own entity related to their brand, developed around a popular trend like superheroes, that may prove to be a path to potential success as demonstrated by Comic-Con.

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