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: 06/10/2019

    Who still thinks one-size-fits-all mannequins make sense?

    Now, I suddenly think there just might be some hope for the world ... maybe.
  • Posted on: 06/10/2019

    Should CMOs be more prevalent on retail boards?

    One of my favorite old adages: "If you aren't speaking with the customer, you'd better be speaking with someone who is." The CMO had better be in touch with the customer, so the board better be asking them for input.
  • Posted on: 06/06/2019

    Stores have cut out-of-stocks. Why don’t consumers know that?

    The other part of this perception, is that physical retailers (Now, I'm talking specifically grocers) have actually not improved OOS conditions versus their own performance of a decade ago. So, while the physical stores have room for improvement, online pure-players have the inherent advantage of ultimate convenience, and the relative perspective of OOS is not enough to sway shoppers' perceptions.
  • Posted on: 06/06/2019

    Will urgent care centers put a hurt on retail health clinics?

    Convenience of the retail centers is a draw, however, the location in the retailer and the center's patient logistics seem to repel repeat patient visits from what I've seen. This is a very private service being provided, and walking up in front of a busy front-end department can be intimidating, when you think about a typical doctor's office or even an urgent care facility. People don't like being "on stage" during these visits in retailers.
  • Posted on: 06/03/2019

    Experience is overrated, hire talent

    Remember, we are talking about RETAIL talent -- in our high employee turnover business. It's not an easy business to stay in long-term, and if we see a candidate with years of retail experience, it must be taken into account as much as whatever personality traits you can glean from a resume and interview. I agree that the soft skills mentioned are very desirable, however let's keep on the lookout for the experienced hire when possible and balance that with other traits.
  • Posted on: 05/31/2019

    Do retailers have an online reputation management problem?

    Good discussion, Patricia. Retailers and brands need not bang their heads on the wall trying to control things they cannot. Bottom line, drive positive messaging in the channels your audience watches, respond promptly to both negative and positive feedback with a serious investment of dedicated staff commensurate with the incoming volume of comments, and initiate lively conversations to proactively connect your brand to your audience's lifestyles.
  • Posted on: 05/31/2019

    Consumers are changing – or not – in ways that retailers may not understand

    Technology spend has increased dramatically over the past two decades due to new product categories being created. That spend adds to the overall retail spend, yet typically creates no measurable net worth increase for the consumer. That equates to a ton of dollars with no tangible economic benefit. Consumers will always continue to jump onto whatever trends are driving commerce in general, and agility will continue to be critical for retailers to adapt.
  • Posted on: 05/31/2019

    What if unwanted online purchases didn’t have to be returned?

    This is all just common sense... something lacking in many other retailing decisions. As long as the value of the product does not significantly exceed the "clip level" for the cost of returns, and the retailer keeps track of abusive shoppers, this is the way to go.
  • Posted on: 05/30/2019

    How can retailers help employees improve? (Hint: Not by criticizing them)

    It's a tough thing for retail store-level management (because that's what we're primarily talking about here) to consistently provide constructive, focused attention on individuals. I'm not making excuses, I'm just telling it from an "I've been there" point of view. However, if store management can focus on their key department managers, and those managers take on a management number of individuals, then this can definitely work. The key is to be consistent. Coaching that is only opportunistic without planned interaction typically falls short in effectiveness. I do see strength-based focus as a positive way, and perhaps more likely way, for managers to get into the habit of consistent feedback and coaching.
  • Posted on: 05/29/2019

    What’s the secret to driving emotional connections with customers?

    The pleasant shock of a merchant knowing what I want before I tell them is a great thing. Getting irrelevant suggestions is worthless. Shoppers are connecting with relevant interactions with brands, and the right technologies to help ensure those productive connections are making their way into the innovators' organizations as we speak.
  • Posted on: 05/24/2019

    Can Loop make packaging reusability a reality at scale?

    If the service is convenient for the shopper to handle the logistics and value-for-benefit priced, this may have legs.
  • Posted on: 05/24/2019

    Questions abound about the value of net promoter scores

    I know companies of all types are "betting the farm" and rating employee performance on NPS. I like the overall concept, however there could be an evolution that captures aspects mentioned in the article as time goes on. I see this happening. I do think retailers should use it as-is, because it's better than some other traditional methods.
  • Posted on: 05/24/2019

    Do the benefits of using facial recognition in retail outweigh the risks?

    I'm sure legislator panic driven by sinister perceptions and lack of factual knowledge will drive more laws coming onto the books. However, that's how most laws get passed, right?! With GDPR impacting the whole world more and more, I believe the challenges of compliance may outweigh the potential benefits for the moment. I would think retailers will find a permissible way to have shoppers opt in without too much inconvenience very soon, though. I do believe data analytics from this tech is valuable.
  • Posted on: 05/23/2019

    Are retail HQs and stores suffering a communication breakdown?

    Store-level execution has been a challenge since I started in the grocery biz in the '70s. All the tech in the world cannot compensate for store staff collaborating effectively to get the messaging correct.
  • Posted on: 05/17/2019

    Can grocers digest their way to zero waste?

    I'm curious about the total landed costs of this process versus traditional dumping. This is definitely great for goodwill impressions of the companies, though.

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