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: 04/24/2019

    Should retailers promote brand backstories?

    I think there is a wide-open opportunity to personalize brands. Creating awareness of brand backstories has proven to drive true loyalty and connection to brands.
  • Posted on: 04/22/2019

    Is it time to push the ‘go faster’ button on cloud computing?

    As we continue to learn from successful adoptions of cloud, we find that the hybrid and multi-cloud environments are taking hold in organizations of all sizes. Seamless interoperability is critical as more applications move off-premise.
  • Posted on: 04/19/2019

    Is AI’s impact on demand forecasting more hype than reality?

    AI, like any system, only generates the quality of insights that it is fed. If you don't trust your data then yes, there will be questions in the results. It is true that the more good data you feed AI, the more accurate the forecasting will be. We have seen a huge retailer generate double-digit percent improvement in demand forecasting via an AI tool. That performance was unprecedented. Bottom line, if you have two years of reliable data, you can see results that are very impressive with the right application of machine learning.
  • Posted on: 04/18/2019

    Will America’s love for paper coupons ever die?

    Holding money (AKA "coupons") in your hands is far more compelling than looking for them on your phone. Research needs to be highlighted that focuses on the human side of retail discounting. Although some data conflicts in the article, and although redemption has historically been low for paper coupons, they still seem to be very valuable to consumers of all ages. This will definitely continue to fade, though, as digital coupons become more convenient and intuitive for shoppers.
  • Posted on: 04/17/2019

    Will livestream shopping take off in the U.S.?

    This is already getting a foothold in the U.S. Although I believe it's only a matter of time until livestreaming will become as ubiquitous as TV Shopping, I'm not certain that this will have long-term (more than five years) viability. It's tough to keep the excitement going with today's fickle shoppers.
  • Posted on: 04/15/2019

    Autonomous vehicles take test drives around distribution centers

    There is no question that automation will drive profitability for retailers in general. Specifically, autonomous vehicles in DCs are already making an impact, which has little to do with real-world driving on public streets. We are at least another 10 years away from completely autonomous vehicles becoming available to consumers for street use.
  • Posted on: 04/12/2019

    Should retailers worry that secondhand apparel is flooding the market?

    With consumer tastes trending toward vintage and value, I really wonder what the five-year impact will be on the apparel industry. I'm not completely certain a majority of people will continue to lean toward used clothing. Stay tuned...
  • Posted on: 04/12/2019

    Why consumers are breaking bonds with their favorite brands

    Beyond all the trends pointed out in this article is the driving force that I see with younger generations. This force is driving toward the best choice at the moment. There is no long-term loyalty with most young people that lasts as long as Baby Boomer loyalty. Boomers are stubborn. Millennials are far more agile.
  • Posted on: 04/11/2019

    What does it take to produce promos that pop?

    Great suggestions in the article. The challenge with the grocery biz is that we've been discounting since day one. Others have tried to wean their customers off of it with little success. That doesn't mean you shouldn't revisit the idea, along with today's most innovative promo tactics that are showing positive, measurable results.
  • Posted on: 04/10/2019

    Will retailers see more rewards from multi-banner loyalty programs?

    The simpler you keep it for shoppers, the more likely they are to become loyal to your brand(s). Fewer programs for shoppers to manage is a good thing.
  • Posted on: 04/08/2019

    Should uniform pricing be the norm for large chains?

    I was a part of a local retailer whose 150+ stores comprised 21 price zones. 21 zones ... in the same city! This was in the '70s and '80s. I think today's smaller world, due to ubiquitous access to product info via multiple channels including pricing, lends itself to uniform pricing at least locally, if not nationally. I also think there are many other ways to maximize the revenue and margin curves, rather than sending confusing messages to the target audience.
  • Posted on: 04/03/2019

    Can subscription retail solve its retention problem?

    Value for services provided. That's what consumers seek. Analyze your existing, loyal customers via NPS surveys and replicate what they like to attract and retain new customers. Simple, just not easy.
  • Posted on: 04/01/2019

    Are third parties the biggest reason delivery costs keep going up?

    Quite simply, there's got to be a mutually-beneficial partnership. Develop your business case for your partner(s) and create a compelling solution.
  • Posted on: 03/29/2019

    Has wearable tech already gone out of style?

    At this point in time, with the exception of tech-freaks who need to have the latest stuff, there is very little wearable tech that has shown true convenience and benefits that have become entrenched in the wider marketplace. One great example of a successful product that I predict will endure is the health/heart rate monitor wristband/watch.
  • Posted on: 03/22/2019

    Are smartphones too personal for work?

    Anecdotally, I have the choice of whether I use my own device or an employer-provided one. Several years ago, I turned in my corporate phone and invested in my own. The intranet security software my employer provides is rock-solid. Freedom of choice is always a good thing from the employee's perspective. Being given that flexibility by your employer is even better.

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