Ray Riley

Chief Executive Officer, Progress Retail
Ray Riley is the Chief Executive Officer of Progress Retail, a retail e-learning platform that layers retail management, productivity, and communication tools on the foundation of personalized sales, product knowledge, organizational, and management training content. Born in Michigan to college professors, Ray rebelled in early 2009, and left college after two semesters to expand a wholesale company he started earlier that year dealing in cell phones, parts, and cellular accessories. Shortly thereafter, he scaled this business into operating wireless retail stores, which continued the course for an entire career based in several functions within the retail industry. His passion lies in the development of front-line retail teams and the convergence of technology within a brick-and-mortar environment. Progress Retail is led by Ray Riley, Terry Hawkins, and Kash Movania, and is principally headquartered in Chicago, Illinois, with an office in Sydney, Australia. To learn more, visit:
  • Posted on: 10/18/2018

    Will rising costs throw a wrench in e-commerce operations?

    For many yes. The focus on the store increases as a centralized hub to experience brand, product, and service. E-commerce is a limited channel, especially at macro scale.
  • Posted on: 10/16/2018

    Does anyone pay the full retail price anymore?

    The value and quality for the money customers pay has increased exponentially in off-price retail over the last decade. Plus with all retailers’ online efforts assisting in the discovery of these products across social channels, marketplaces and elsewhere -- why pay full price? Particularly if you have the time to spend!
  • Posted on: 10/11/2018

    Would biometric feedback shopping carts creep out Walmart’s customers?

    The data from my interpretation would all seem to be anonymized, which doesn’t concern me a bit. All technology is utilized before it is fully understood, and there are some positive health and potential shopping-focused customer benefits which should be explored. There’s always the inverse; the negative exploitative methods. My primary concern as a shopper would be what identification criteria exists, but if a prototype enters the stores that should be celebrated. Walmart is no small retailer, and they have a war chest to lead innovation in physical retail.
  • Posted on: 10/11/2018

    Re:Store concept mixes co-work and co-retail

    It’s a fairly low financial commitment for a brand to get physical space -- especially the retail and office combination. That is great. Ultimately these brands need foot traffic, so the quality of tenant mix will be a large factor in driving that. The office use seems to benefit the tenants much more than the majority of potential consumers.
  • Posted on: 10/10/2018

    Will Best Buy’s golden years strategy deliver long-term success?

    The Geek Squad subscription service and the Assured Living program are two tactics in what is becoming a very compelling strategy to deliver services, support, and products to an aging, but longer-living population. I think about witnessing my own grandparents in their 80s, and the needs for technology and electronics in the home intensifying from the iPod to a smart refrigerator in a very small window of time. These needs will only compound in years to come as technology infiltrates more of the home, and time-poor children aren't readily available to assist.
  • Posted on: 10/09/2018

    Will foodie culture save the mall?

    It’s definitely “a brick in the wall” in the effort to boost foot traffic. Simon Property has done an interesting job here in bringing in artisanal selection and local favorites to their “dining districts.” Having said that, nothing beats the Australian shopping center with the large format grocery store, pharmacy, doctor’s office and your full traditional mall offering all under one roof!
  • Posted on: 10/05/2018

    There may be benefits to adding uncertainty to rewards programs

    Uncertainty is a primary principle of the off-price "value hunting" element that boosts Nordstrom Rack, Saks off Fifth, TJX etc. You don't know what you'll find, there's a scarcity factor, and every few days there appears to be limited designer styles at great discounts available. For many, it's a lot better than attending the full-price outlet with the certainty of five to 10 sizes of each style on a rack.
  • Posted on: 10/04/2018

    Can a new CEO revitalize J.C. Penney’s business?

    The apparel and fashion segment for J.C. Penney is a huge challenge; they haven't been able to compete on value for some time. Curious to see if the expansion into home appliances lasts under the new regime.
  • Posted on: 10/02/2018

    Will Amazon’s new $15 an hour minimum wage mess up rivals’ seasonal hiring plans?

    It's a competitive labor market, and this will definitely cause other retailers to review their wage plan and strategy for not just the holiday season, but beyond. Naturally, there will be questions to workplace health with reports of the conditions within Amazon's distribution centers, but with the financial pressures many Americans face, these may be afterthoughts.
  • Posted on: 10/01/2018

    Is traffic a flawed measure of engagement?

    This is about retailers adopting next generation in-store analytics and customer tracking technology. A simple "straight-line" or "in/out" count is no longer worthwhile data, and while better than nothing, it's far behind the WiFi-signal tracking technology systems and beacons that can actually measure unique visitors, dwell time/heat mapping, and a host of other critical data points related to loyalty.
  • Posted on: 09/28/2018

    Is BOPIS best when it’s done outside the store?

    In a time poor society, outside the store definitely makes sense for convenience. The opportunities to upsell/cross-sell are limited, but I think the retailer has to look at the motivation of the buyer; they aren't looking to shop. They want to acquire and move on. Make it easy for them.
  • Posted on: 09/27/2018

    Will Amazon disrupt retail again with its new 4-star store concept?

    Brick and mortar data is vital, and Amazon's distribution machine will most likely be able to optimally stock this store with relevant, top-rated product with dynamic pricing 24/7. Plus, I imagine it serves as another return checkpoint for Amazon customers looking to exchange.
  • Posted on: 09/26/2018

    Peers call Levi’s CEO a retail visionary

    Like the overused Wayne Gretzky quote, "I skate to where the puck is going, not where it's been." Although it has been watered down over the years (and Steve Jobs capitalized on it), it is a fundamental question of whether as a leader you position yourself on offense or defense- proaction opposed to reaction. This is every part vision as it is grit, and the ability to rally others around that vision or cause.
  • Posted on: 09/21/2018

    Why don’t retailers concentrate more on selling the Christmas spirit?

    I believe reframing the question around “How many retailers sell in-store spirit?” full stop is a starting point. Many retailers need to rethink their entire store design, purpose, people, and visual merchandising strategy in the wake of what is truly an enhanced role for the physical store. Having said that, Godiva for some reason comes to mind from my years of working in shopping centers. Nordstrom would be another for having a holiday tone, but not holiday sensory overwhelm during December.
  • Posted on: 09/20/2018

    What would 3,000 AmazonGo stores do to the U.S. retail landscape?

    The question is which firm that took a haircut yesterday is getting purchased at a discount by Amazon. Amazon didn't build grocery stores; they bought Whole Foods. They won't be building 3,000 c-stores.

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