PROFILE

Ricardo Belmar

Sr Director, Worldwide Enterprise Product Marketing, InfoVista
As large enterprises in the manufacturing, retail, logistics, banking/finance and related industries embrace and accelerate digital transformations via unified communications, collaborative, mobile and cloud-based applications, the need to deliver the best user experience to all users, customers, applications, and devices is ever increasing. Ricardo helps these organizations find business value from technology investments by optimizing their enterprise network and applications to drive user experience and omni-channel customer experiences.

Ricardo is the Senior Director for Worldwide Enterprise Product Marketing at InfoVista. In this role, Ricardo develops market positioning and strategy for InfoVista’s enterprise solutions globally, leveraging his more than 20 years of IT industry experience.

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 and 2016 RetailTech Conference by RIS News. He has conducted video interviews of senior executives from retail, banking, and restaurant brands as well as many industry analysts and is frequently interviewed by retail industry publications. Ricardo is also a supporter of the RetailROI charity organization.

For more information, visit: www.infovista.com
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  • Posted on: 04/18/2018

    Best Buy and Amazon expand their coopetition

    This dynamic duo allows us to recognize something important for retailers -- Amazon does not have to be your enemy! Their brand undeniably represents something profound for most consumers and retailers should take the opportunity to leverage this consumer trust where possible. Best Buy has sold Amazon products for quite some time and there's no doubt this drives foot traffic into the store -- a great benefit for them. For Amazon, this strengthens Best Buy as their distribution partner for their hardware products. I'm sure Amazon didn't plan on displaying Fire TVs in Whole Foods stores! There is absolutely mutual benefit in this arrangement. It's also noteworthy that this is another retailer in a long line of retailers now partnering with Amazon that we've seen in the last year!
  • Posted on: 04/16/2018

    Dyson believes in showroom stores

    This experiential showroom approach is ideally suited to high-end items like Dyson products, but that doesn't mean it can't be applied to other types of products. While we might not see shoppers spilling Cheerios on a Target floor to test out a new vacuum, it doesn't mean those same shoppers won't find themselves one department over trying out 10 different light bulb styles and dimmer switches in a staged home environment. Both are experiences, even though both may not fit every retailer's model. This does require a more developed sense of creativity and innovation that not every retailer possesses today and also requires a new level of capital investment in their stores. We've all said this here in this forum before: retail stores of the future will include these types of experiences as that is how customers want to shop -- they want to experience products before they buy -- and this is the store's #1 advantage over online shopping!
  • Posted on: 04/16/2018

    Brands find unexpected opportunities to reach next-gen customers

    This exemplifies the notion of finding a niche with pent-up demand for something unique and catering to it! These startups are mastering the art of intrigue and desire with younger audiences in a way that large brands simply can't move quickly enough to satisfy. The risk, of course, is that those large brands wake up and decide to compete with similar merchandise. This practice sometimes works for them, but doesn't take into account the new type of loyalty expressed by younger generations -- which don't always hold any loyalty to larger brands. With today's social selling capabilities, there will continue to be many ways for startup brands like these to succeed, right under the noses of larger brands!
  • Posted on: 04/16/2018

    Can food halls become retail’s new anchors?

    The food hall concept leverages a strong desire for authentic experiences from local suppliers that many consumers are looking for. It's no surprise these are performing well and that they bring an uplift for surrounding retailers. However, with anything that rises to popularity this quickly and draws such strong crowds, there is a risk of oversaturation if too many food halls pop up in close proximity. The risk may be higher in urban areas but suburban location may be fertile ground for this approach where these types of authentic, local experiences are rare and consumers may actually crave them more than their urban counterparts. I'm sure there is an element of "placeholder" in the view of landlords with this concept, but if they perform well, I doubt we will see any of them kicked out. If anything, this should fuel adjacent tenants quite nicely!
  • Posted on: 04/13/2018

    Will electric vehicles prove a bane or a boon for c-stores and energy drinks?

    I don't see an issue here. C-stores will evolve over time just as every other retail segment will evolve. Any retailer that doesn't evolve, dies. There are plenty of examples to look at in recent years! Convenience stores could simply add charging stations instead of fuel pumps if electric cars really take over the market with the velocity the Morgan Stanley suggests. I have not seen sales numbers that give any indication this is anywhere within the next few decades so I doubt the risk is there for c-stores anytime soon. The desire for convenience foods at convenient locations will not go away in a car-based society such as the one we live in. CPGs will evolve as well and they have plenty of time to address this potential "threat."
  • Posted on: 04/13/2018

    REI lifts the sustainability bar

    Completely in line with everything REI's brand represents! We should applaud their decision to act and encourage other brands to do the same. From a business perspective, REI knows its customers' values and is aligning to those values 100 percent with this approach. It's a shame that this type of action is so newsworthy today, but these are the times we live in. Businesses beyond retailers should be equally encouraged to adopt this mentality -- in the end, the planet doesn't really need us, but we need it! Doing everything we can to sustain it is simply good business sense no matter how you look at it.
  • Posted on: 04/13/2018

    Backstage shops star inside Macy’s

    I have mixed feelings about this approach. Yes Macy's is seeing a sales uplift in stores that have Backstage shops vs. stores that do not, but is this sustainable long term? It's possible that the numbers are misleading. I would argue that the real test is to look at that sales uplift by department within the store. If the uplift is exclusively coming from the Backstage shop versus the mainline departments, then the only thing proven is that Backstage has a customer base that likes the concept. The problem with that is that every shopper likes to find a great discount! Macy's need to find new, interesting, experiential ways to drive that motivated foot traffic from the Backstage shop into the rest of the store. We see pockets of this with examples like the VR furniture application Macy's is deploying to their furniture gallery stores. We see this when they add b8ta shops within their mainline stores. Macy's needs more of these types of tactics to move those shoppers from Backstage into other departments. The issue is that to date, all of these experiences are lacking one important factor -- a core identity. What is the new Macy's brand identity going forward? Is it a discounter or a full line department store? What's the value to the shopper? Once Macy's defines this new identity, the rest will fall into place for long-term success. Everything else is just short-term sales with an unpredictable future.
  • Posted on: 04/12/2018

    No site comes close to Amazon for Gen Z

    I don't see a lot of surprises in the survey results -- mostly brands that we've discussed here on RetailWire before as being successful, digital-savvy brands that understand how to reach their target customer. They know how to be relevant to their customer and provide the value they are seeking. For Gen Z, we see this take the form of seeking discounts and value priced offers from brands that demonstrate a social conscience and can deliver a great shopping experience - all rolled into one. I don't see those characteristics changing as this generation gets older. They may expand their brand choices given the products they need to buy, especially apparel -- picture a new generation of shoppers looking for professional office apparel versus athleisure wear. The proportions of what type of apparel may change and hat could dictate brand choices. There is definitely an opportunity for brands to engage this audience before those choices are made!
  • Posted on: 04/12/2018

    Will a mobile game and free pizza combo deliver sales for Domino’s?

    This is a smart, creative move by Domino's. You can sell almost anything if you make it fun, as was said at NRF earlier this year. Gamification is a powerful tool to generate engagement with an audience, but it has to be done in a way that is relevant to that audience. Will Domino's find new customers with this game, or will they simply build stronger loyalty with existing customers? Probably more of the latter, but they get credit for creativity in a way that their competitors might not be thinking about. This approach may gain in popularity with other retailers beyond just food service in the future and it will be interesting to see what others come up with in their pursuit to differentiate their loyalty programs!
  • Posted on: 04/12/2018

    Is product discovery now the biggest pain point for mobile buys?

    Part of the problem here is trying to generalize poor discovery experiences on mobile across all products and all types of search. As a consumer, how you search for consumable media, such as on Netflix or iTunes, is very different than searching for a pair of pants. In fact, if the survey takers had asked me about discovery I would tell them that my biggest frustration on mobile is not in trying to narrow my selection down to one, but in trying to increase the number of product choices shown in any search in a way that makes sense. It's much easier, and richer on a desktop browser than on a mobile app for many product types. Focusing on AI as the magic solution to mobile discovery assumes the problem lies in narrowing down the choices, not finding the choices in the first place. You could easily make an argument that this problem exists for online shopping in all forms. In the end, whoever said that an Amazon-style search result showing 100 matches in a grid or lit is the right format to present to the shopper? The mobile solution provider that finds a better output for this is the one that will win retailers' business. Will it be AI-based? Maybe, but not necessarily -- it's more a UX issue than an AI issue.
  • Posted on: 04/10/2018

    Barnes & Noble’s crowdsourcing app engages readers and earns solid reviews

    While it's refreshing to see Barnes & Noble taking a more customer-centric position with an app focused on discovery of new books like this, it still feels like playing catch up to the market. Other apps like this exist that are more established so why try and create a new area of competition versus just adding this capability to their main app? It's a good start and direction and, hopefully, we'll see more thinking like this at Barnes & Noble. They really need to find ways to tie this experience into the in-store shopping experience whether it's just discount offers, special events, etc. -- something to link it all together to create a unique ecosystem for their customers.
  • Posted on: 04/10/2018

    Can Nordstrom’s full-line men’s store make it in Manhattan?

    This is exactly what I would expect from Nordstrom - a customer-first focus adapted to local needs in a way only Nordstrom can deliver. I expect this store will be very successful - I'll be planning to stop by on my next trip to NY! It is an expensive bet for them to take on, but what better way to differentiate their new presence in Manhattan. It will be very interesting to see how successful the 24/7 pickup is and whether the $20 same-day delivery will be accepted ( I suspect yes, but only because it's Manhattan). The final key to this puzzle will be in the merchandise offered. It appears they intend to appeal to a wide variety of New York shoppers, perhaps taking a page out of the Macy's playbook? I also expect this to be a tourist shopping destination which should help their sales.
  • Posted on: 04/10/2018

    Retailers must unite to bring dying downtowns back to life

    It takes all sides working together to make a revitalization effort work well. Retailers, city councils, community members -- everyone has to be in sync or it just doesn't work. All of these ideas on the merchant side are good ones and serve at least one very important purpose -- showing that they care enough to do SOMETHING. Sometimes that's all it takes to get the conversation going. Too often these projects never make it past the talking stage without some sort of incentive.
  • Posted on: 04/09/2018

    Where will the ‘new generation of female explorers’ take The North Face’s business?

    You would expect The North Face to know who its customers are and their demographic makeup. Given that, shouldn't this campaign just be a natural part of any of their campaigns? Yes, it's a great idea as a campaign in and of itself, but the fact that it needs to be promoted as something special and unique says more about what is happening in advertising than the campaign itself. Like any advertiser or brand, how you portray conventional versus unconventional roles is a function of who your target audience is and how they perceive you as a brand.
  • Posted on: 04/09/2018

    Is Walmart building a tower of power with its expanding in-store pickup network?

    Walmart's Pickup Towers are certainly a great omnichannel innovation that adds to the convenience factor of shopping with them. They do a great job of leveraging their stores as something more than a traditional store in a way that is customer-centric. However, I do wonder how this automated pickup model is going to create additional sales for Walmart. Placing them at the back of the store may make more sense operationally, but for picking up larger items, it actually detracts from the convenience for the customer. One of the advantages of a store is the human interaction the customer gets to make the experience a better one. Where is that factor in this BOPIS process? It seems Walmart wants to provide the convenience without the labor cost, but I thought we had heard Walmart was finding new ways for associates to engage customers in their shopping journey? This seems a little conflicted.

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