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: 02/14/2019

    Will Mastercard’s sonic identity connect with consumers on a new level?

    Nice, Bob! I KNEW that wasn't a new idea. ;-)
  • Posted on: 02/14/2019

    America has too many retail stores

    First of all, I don't feel today's (Feb. 14) retail performance news is a long-term indicator. One inning doesn't make a ballgame. However, to answer the question posed, YES, it's still "Location, Location, Location." The physical store is alive and well. Otherwise, so many online natives wouldn't be exploring bricks.
  • Posted on: 02/14/2019

    Will Mastercard’s sonic identity connect with consumers on a new level?

    In the beginning, branding was text, then imagery. Now audio and video are taking over. When will we leverage our sense of smell? A brand with a trademarked aroma! Has anyone done that yet?! Probably.
  • Posted on: 02/13/2019

    Retail leaders need to care more about tech

    Twenty years ago, a CEO told me face-to-face that he got where he was not knowing anything about technology. I know several CEOs today whom are still living that life as we speak. As Nikki pointed out so well, this is a two-way street. All senior leaders need to dive in and understand at a high level how technology can augment the performance of their businesses in specific functional areas. At the same time, technology companies must have sales and marketing messaging that cuts through the techy goop and demonstrates the business value of the tech in a straightforward manner.
  • Posted on: 02/12/2019

    Will Marie Kondo de-clutter retail?

    I'd really like to think the days of excess shopping are waning. Having purged literally full-sized rental truckloads of "stuff" to donation centers in a recent move, my wife and I are feeling a fabulous sense of being cleansed. I think the more this catches on, the more retailers can actually capitalize on the new opportunities like mentioned in the article.
  • Posted on: 02/11/2019

    Is there really wisdom in the crowd?

    Be careful putting too much credibility into "mob mentality." Focus on real-time personalization and deep shopper analytics to find what really matters to your audience.
  • Posted on: 02/11/2019

    Are apps and voice assistants the keys to e-grocery adoption?

    I have found adoption of online grocery shopping to be primarily location-based. The question is, how easy, convenient and affordable is it for me? Urban versus rural sites, single versus large families and other characteristics are driving adoption. Intuitive apps and other tech are only enablers.
  • Posted on: 02/08/2019

    Product and promo knowledge won’t make the sale

    Product knowledge certainly helps, and I wouldn't want to discount the value of knowing what you're selling. Sure, the talent of the specific person is the primary driver, however knowing what you sell can drive additional sales via up-sell and cross-sell techniques. I do feel that these "best sellers" employees should often be the trainer in that store. Take advantage of the natural or learned expert skills in every store. And, if you must, have them travel to regional stores if they're that good at what they do.
  • Posted on: 02/05/2019

    Are malls better off as fulfillment centers?

    Another example of retail evolution. Demand is shifting from in-store shopping to online. Less need for physical stores requires more physical space to handle the distribution of products that used to be sold in those stores. No surprise here.
  • Posted on: 02/01/2019

    What motivates workers in the gig economy?

    One of the key aspects of this part of the economy is for the retailer to be where the customer is. Entering into physical stores to promote these categories only makes sense.
  • Posted on: 02/01/2019

    Shopper technology opportunities are the focus of FMI Midwinter

    I remember a presentation I gave in 2004 stating specifically that those retailers, food or any other category, that don't evolve with the fast-changing landscape will not only lose market share, but will simply not exist in the near future. That sounded somewhat dramatic back then, however it has more than proved to be true today. Capturing and retaining customers has always been critical, and today it is more so than ever. Retailers need to leverage those technologies available today that will help identify your most appropriate audience and provide real-time personalization to help ensure a seamless shopping experience.
  • Posted on: 02/01/2019

    Is trust the next omnichannel inflection point?

    Trust has always been a part of a brand's value. In today's retail world, the channels have increased over the years, yet the basic requirement of trust remains strong. For simple, commodity-type transactions, perhaps trust is less of a determining factor in the purchase decision. However, trust still is a component in those transactions. Even something like bottled water has a definite level of trust involved in the brand. So, as social channels continue to proliferate in society, trust becomes an evolved aspect, but it remains critical to the shopper experience.
  • Posted on: 01/30/2019

    Is experiential retail overhyped and misunderstood?

    As I think about the examples in the article, the majority refer to NYC locations where the density of retailers almost demands theater in order to differentiate. If the experience drives not just traffic, but also revenue, then something's working. However, don't be impressed by a crowded, trendy store where few people are walking out with paid products.
  • Posted on: 01/29/2019

    Are new brick and mortar solutions the key to digital brand growth?

    I hate to make a blanket statement, however in my experience, on average, online retail startup founders have far less retail-specific expertise than the typical physical retailer. So, turnkey physical setups like these can really help the digital natives. Also, creating physical awareness of your online brand is always a good thing in the shoppers' eyes.
  • Posted on: 01/28/2019

    Cloud and AI seen fueling digital transformation

    I think a retail business starts with effective inventory management. Those retailers that secure real-time inventory visibility, augmented by AI are the ones that will achieve the promise of seamless shopping experiences.

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