Ricardo Belmar

Sr Director, Global Enterprise Marketing, Infovista
As enterprises and brands in the retail, manufacturing, and supply chain industries accelerate their digital transformation via collaborative, mobile and cloud-based applications, the need to deliver the best user experience to all users and customers across all devices is ever increasing. Ricardo helps these organizations find business value from technology investments by optimizing their enterprise network and applications to drive omnichannel customer experiences and drive digital revenue. As the Senior Director for Global Enterprise Marketing at Infovista, Ricardo develops the marketing strategy for Infovista’s enterprise solutions, leveraging his 20+ years of industry experience to help enterprises protect digital revenue by optimizing their enterprise networks. Ricardo actively engages with industry influencers in retail, consumer goods, banking, payments, and restaurant industries on technology trends via Twitter and LinkedIn. He was named Social Media Mayor at the 2015 Retail Executive Summit, the 2015 ENGAGE Summit, 2016 RetailTech Conference, and 2018 Retail Experience Summit by RIS News. He has conducted frequent video interviews of senior executives from retail, banking, and restaurant brands as well as many industry analysts and is frequently interviewed by retail publications. Ricardo is also a supporter of the RetailROI charity organization. For more information, visit:
  • Posted on: 05/15/2019

    Why is Amazon paying employees to quit their jobs?

    Only 200 small business started up in the year this program was announced with "thousands of drivers"? That doesn't seem nearly as impressive as Amazon would need, to really make a dent in last mile delivery. This certainly sounds like a better program than the one Walmart tried to get their associates to deliver packages after their work hours with their personal vehicles. I expect they will have some success with this program, but it's hard to see how much of a dent it will make in their efforts to control last mile delivery. I agree with Ananda that this is more of a PR play than anything else (it is Amazon, after all!). A year from now, when the articles are published of Amazon putting more robots in their warehouses, we'll all be looking back at this announcement to see where all the people went that used to have those robots' jobs!
  • Posted on: 05/15/2019

    The Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show exits network TV

    While they may still have a majority market share, they are starting to bleed fast. Their customers have moved on and no longer want to see models that don't look like every woman, no matter what body type they may be. Competitors have already done this and showing success. A good start is ending the current iteration of the fashion show on TV and moving on to other mediums and formats. TV isn't the problem, the message is.
  • Posted on: 05/15/2019

    Is Apple’s App Store a monopoly?

    In the Google Play store, Google encourages app developers to follow a free+ads based model rather than charge for their apps. Does that offer a better solution? Perhaps, but it means you're willing to tolerate endless ads targeting you (which, by the way, will generally feed Google's pockets more so than the app developer -- Google, after all, is a search/ads business more than anything else). However, does that mean Google exerts undue force upon developers to keep prices down? I find it fascinating we have a Supreme Court looking at Apple, who doesn't even have a majority market share of smartphones, to see if they could be considered a monopoly. The definition of monopoly is pretty specific in legal terms and it's hard to believe it fits the description of how the App Store works. This is not the same as when AT&T was broken up because they were a monopoly in the telephone services industry. Yes, it's true many developers cry foul at the idea of Apple taking 30% as their fee for being in the platform. But, this is more analogous to the leasing costs a retailer pays to a landlord to have their storefront at a given location. Could the fee be lower? That's more a function of market forces. It seems other app stores followed Apple's lead rather than offer lower fees. That would seem to indicate the market supports the price point. A more interesting consideration of this ruling is how it could impact other platform plays in adjacent services. Platforms, marketplaces, etc. -- all of these are based on charging a fixed fee. Are we now putting all of these platforms and marketplaces into question because a small group of people is crying foul at the pricing? I'm not so sure this makes sense. At the end of the day, how many consumers are complaining that paying 99 cents for an app is too expensive? I would argue developers of apps like Fortnite would have had a hard time generating as much revenue as they have in the days before app stores and smartphone platforms existed. Even console gaming systems have been moving away from the "old" style pricing of paying a high price for a media-based game in favor of subscription and app-store like prices with in-app purchases to fuel their business.
  • Posted on: 05/10/2019

    Trump is deaf to retailers on tariffs

    Sadly, I doubt there is anything any trade group can do at this point to change the President's mind on tariffs. I suppose it's easy for millionaires and billionaires to believe there is no impact on consumers when you don't have to care about prices going up on everyday goods your family needs. I have already seen numerous news stories this morning alone from U.S. manufacturers talking about layoffs in the thousands of employees due to tariffs, especially in materials such as steel. The impact is clear and unfortunately stands to cause more harm than good if the disputes are not resolved soon. Whether the President truly believes the false narrative or is just using it to gain favor with a political base remains to be seen. Let's hope that this doesn't last too long.
  • Posted on: 05/10/2019

    Is anyone going to buy Sears’ rebranding?

    New ads, new branding, new logo - these do nothing to tell consumers WHY they should shop at Sears. Customers have long since given up on Sears as evidenced by their declining sales. Nothing here tells those customers why they should come back - where are the new products? Has the mix changed? Are stores any different than they were last year besides a new logo on the door? And what about associates? Has their training changed? Are they now better equipped to serve customers? The lack of strategy is deafening. I'm with Paula on this one - knowing Lampert is still in control is enough reason for me to stay away. As much as I'd love to see this brand resurrect itself, I don't see a light at the end of the tunnel. As I'm sure Steve Dennis will say - this is a dead brand walking. The death spiral will continue, it's only a matter of time now.
  • Posted on: 05/02/2019

    Walgreens is training pharmacists to tackle mental health, opioid emergencies

    Great example of a retailer, Walgreens, becoming more socially responsible and genuinely trying to make a positive impact on their customers. Health and wellness are becoming ever more important factors to all generations of consumers and this is a response to that trend which allows Walgreens to become a more integral part of their health in a time where healthcare is becoming less reachable for so many. Retailers and brands are in a unique place where they can deliver an impact to consumers in a way even governments cannot or are unable/unwilling to do so. The future of working as a pharmacist is likely to change quite a bit in the coming years!
  • Posted on: 05/02/2019

    Is retail suffering from an emotional intelligence deficit?

    This is yet another area where retailers need to focus on training. As technology in our daily lives has moved everyone to become more detached, less directly social, the need to counteract this has increased. How often have you been in a conversation where people realize they can't remember the last time they used their smartphone to make a phone call? As recent RetailWire articles and comments have pointed out -- the human touch factor is critical in delivering a great experience to a customer. No bot, AI, drone, or robot can outperform a human's ability to deliver a great experience to another person! Retailers who have lost sight of this need to rethink their associate enablement strategies and include training around the emotional intelligence required to satisfy and delight their customers.
  • Posted on: 05/02/2019

    Are ‘live, work, shop, play’ environments a big part of retail’s future?

    The hectic, non-stop nature of everyone's daily lives has led us to this point -- who doesn't want more convenience in their lives? This transcends generational demographics. It's a return to a more urban setting where everything you need is within short reach, without having to drive an hour to get it. The migration path from cities to suburbs has come full circle and these new live/work environments are a manifestation of that desire. We should expect to see more and more of them -- it's a trend that isn't going away anytime soon.
  • Posted on: 05/01/2019

    Will Americans eat a direct-to-consumer cereal brand for breakfast?

    Does cereal need to be disrupted with a DTC play? Often times the disrupted markets are overpriced and the upstart DTC comes in at a lower price point with added value. Here it seems the price advantage isn't there so there would be a hurdle to overcome for a consumer to want to try the cereal without committing to buying 4 boxes. Assuming customers find it tastes good, will they want to stock multiple boxes of this cereal at a time? I'm not so sure. It's interesting to see if the cereal market can be disrupted this way, but I suspect a different subscription model will be needed to scale.
  • Posted on: 05/01/2019

    How Modell’s survived a bankruptcy scare

    Trust, transparency and communication are the winning combinations for the relationships between retailers, their suppliers, and their customers. Crisis management is all about getting in front of the situation and defining the narrative before others do it for you. Modell wisely got in front of this by ensuring the message was always his. Those are the lessons to be learned! And this is valid for messaging to suppliers as well as to customers!
  • Posted on: 05/01/2019

    Are smartphones making sales associates obsolete?

    If any retailer still needes proof they need to be mobile-first in their customer focus, this is it. Of course, this surprises no one. The better question to ask is why consumers continue (they have been saying this in surveys for years now) to say they prefer finding product information from their smartphone than a store associate. The answer is that they expect the store associate to be unhelpful and lack the knowledge they need. Countless surveys in recent years have stated this. The solution? Retailers need to focus on training their associates not just on product knowledge, but on how to deliver great service to customers and give them the technology tools they need to help those customers. This is where mobile devices can make a difference. One of our customers equipped their associates with tablets and various assisted selling apps that drove an increase in conversion rates of nearly 40% over a holiday shopping season. When done right, this is a proven approach to improve the customer shopping experience. However, when done wrong, it can dramatically hurt that experience. As many of our customers have found, there are many technical elements that need to be in place, including key network infrastructure that supports the data flows those mobile apps generate to ensure success. The right strategy will use a combination of mobile tech and associate training to deliver the best experience.
  • Posted on: 04/29/2019

    Where’s the (alt) beef?

    While secret taste tests to fool consumers provide interesting PR and promotional material for plant-based meat alternative providers like Beyond Meat, it's still not clear what problem this is really solving that goes any deeper than just "preference." It's interesting to say these alternative solutions will appeal to vegetarians who want a better tasting burger than the existing offerings, but, many vegetarians will tell you they don't long for the taste of meat once they've been a vegetarian for a while. So, who is the target customer, other than someone trying out the novelty? Unlike non-dairy milk alternatives which are solving health issues for many people, there appears to be less concern on that point here, other than just saying "I want to eat less meat." For those that can't eat dairy for health reasons, the non-dairy alternatives are less about choice than they are a necessity. That's not necessarily the case for these meat alternatives. The benefits of these products need to be more clearly tied to real-world concerns for consumers for them to make a significant sales impact with meat-eating consumers.
  • Posted on: 04/29/2019

    Why can’t Amazon convert Prime shoppers into Whole Foods shoppers?

    While Amazon Prime members can be found anywhere, Whole Foods stores are not. The fact is, most people are not close enough to a Whole Foods store to make the trip worthwhile compared to other, more accessible grocery stores. as noted in the article, the novelty of Whole Foods products is not all that unique any longer. Offering Prime members some level of discount is simply not an enticing enough offer for those Prime members to go out of their way to shop there. Amazon needs to come up with something different that will change the shopping experience at Whole Foods for Prime members besides offering a small discount. Let's face it -- Amazon has not been disruptive with Whole Foods since acquiring it, and the results prove that out.
  • Posted on: 04/29/2019

    Walmart’s Intelligent Retail Lab store runs on AI

    There are few retailers with the resources to devote to such an expensive experiment, but Walmart shows us why they are a retail leader with their IRL store. Walmart will no doubt gain tremendous knowledge from the data gathered from so many AI-based approaches in the store. The real challenge will be how they then turn that data around into insights they can apply across their entire fleet of stores. This is a human processing issue, not a computing power one. If they succeed, there they will gain significant advantages over competitors in their ability to quickly respond to customer needs in the store, especially around out-of-stocks. I also expect Walmart to learn quite a bit about their customers' path through the store and how the store layout and merchandising affect this path. The key here will be how the AI insights are translated into actionable changes that store staff can implement. Whether there is a real-time need for this is still an open question for retailers and Walmart may gain important data that helps them understand what the use of such real-time knowledge would do for them. Making the technology visible to customers is an interesting novelty that will surely attract more customers than it will detract. It also allows for some good PR about what and how Walmart is using AI that will make customers feel more comfortable about the technology and its use. I do not see this as a trend however, but more as a novelty for this specific application.
  • Posted on: 04/25/2019

    What’s really driving disruption? (Hint: it’s not technology)

    The customer is the disruptor. Technology is merely the enabler. Companies that realize this, and target the customer experience, be it convenience, price, or something else that fuels a pain point for the customer are the ones that disrupt the incumbents. It's too easy for established brands to be fooled by their own success and market share into thinking they are immune to disruption. Just because customers buy from you repeatedly today doesn't mean you can't be disrupted tomorrow! We've seen so many examples with mattresses, shaving clubs, etc. Another key point is realizing you can be disrupted by adjacent markets, too. There is a reason we now talk about an "Uber experience" when discussing ease of use situations in retail. Uber's app showed consumers how easy it could be to buy something with an app and not even have to think about payment. It just works, it works well, and customers enjoy it. That same experience is what consumers want to be replicated everywhere now. And we see retail startups doing this to established brands.

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