PROFILE

Ricardo Belmar

Sr Director, Global Enterprise Marketing, Infovista
As enterprises in the retail, manufacturing, logistics, banking, and related 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.

Ricardo is the Senior Director for Global Enterprise Marketing at Infovista. In this role, 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 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: 09/20/2018

    Amazon tries to deflect political attacks

    The "threats" Amazon and Bezos are facing are quite different. The Twitter attacks from Trump are simply childish and bordering on foolishness simply because Mr. Trump doesn't like what the Post writes about him. It's just based on ego. While the Bernie Sanders attack is based more on perceived labor conditions we occasionally hear about in the press concerning Amazon's warehouses. In this case, Amazon does need to respond but be careful to only respond with facts about their work environment. Could they do more here? Possibly. Mr. Sanders' accusations here while seemingly well-intentioned, seem a bit odd to me. While we do hear stories of difficult conditions at those Amazon warehouses, it appears that people are still anxious to gain jobs at Amazon in these very locations. I suspect the picture is not quite what Sanders makes it out to be at Amazon but, the intentions around his bill seem sound at least in the notion that this is a problem that should be fixed -- people should be able to earn a wage such that they don't need to rely on government subsidy to survive. Is Amazon guilty of this? I don't know, but they certainly are a highly visible, attention-grabbing target for any politician to use!
  • Posted on: 09/20/2018

    Amazon tries to deflect political attacks

    Well said, Cathy!
  • Posted on: 09/20/2018

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

    The biggest challenge for retail competitors is what we saw in the market yesterday -- panicked investors causing the value of Amazon competitors to drop based simply on rumors. I don't believe this Amazon Go-esque technology is viable for most retailers given the high cost to implement. I'm also not sure shoppers want this type of cashierless experience across all retail segments. It makes the most sense in the convenience store space and variations of that as discussed in the article with a focus on grab and go meals vs. full c-store format. Apart from that, grocery seems to me to be the next logical fit but I am not sure this is proven technology in a larger format store like most grocers are. Regarding the VERY aggressive rollout, while Amazon may have the wherewithal and resources to pull it off, this is completely new territory for them to build out thousands of stores in such a short time. If they intend to have 50 stores by 2019, that leaves them two years to open 2950 stores -- a tall order indeed! I suspect there is an element of PR grandstanding at work here to cause a buzz. Will Amazon roll out more than 50 stores? I absolutely believe that, but 3,000 by 2021? I'm not so sure.
  • Posted on: 09/19/2018

    Tuft & Needle and Native knew their first products fell short

    If you wait for a new product to be perfect before launching it, you might never launch it! The important thing is not to release a known bad product -- your brand's reputation might not survive the backlash, especially if you're a startup. Larger brands have more built-in tolerance for mistakes like that -- remember Samsung's exploding Galaxy Note phone? Brands like Tuft & Needle and Native knew they were filling a need with their first product but also knew they would have to continue to improve it to survive. Had they waited to get the perfect product, we might not recognize these brands today!
  • Posted on: 09/19/2018

    Are Aldi’s customers who you think they are?

    I am not surprised at all by this outcome. I believe all the surveys we see reporting consumer attitudes towards delivery are missing something when it comes to the grocery segment. I am sure there is a growing segment of shopper that does not want to take the time necessary for a grocery store visit. I for one do not look forward to most grocery store visits, no matter how nice the experience is created by the retailer, it's just not something I look forward to and am eagerly awaiting the day Instacart comes to my neighborhood! I strongly suspect Aldi has witnessed this phenomenon and concluded it's the right move. The fact that Aldi is implementing delivery doesn't surprise me because this is yet another data point (along with what's happening with department stores and off-price apparel stores) that shopper demographics are changing dramatically with the changing economy in recent years. Consumers at all income levels now want value in more categories than before, but they do not want to give up convenience. So while these shoppers flocked to Aldi for the price/value ratio they still crave conveniences like delivery. Aldi is smart to satisfy this need and may gain market share as a result while other value brands play catch up. This could even eat into Walmart's share!
  • Posted on: 09/18/2018

    Macy’s expands in-store pop-up concept with Facebook’s help

    It's pleasing to see Macy's experimenting and taking chances with multiple tactics to see what works and what doesn't. In some cases, they are taking a department by department approach -- VR in the furniture department for example. This makes sense if we look at it through the lens of technology -- they're applying VR where it makes economic sense and has proven itself rather than trying to force an entire VR shopping experience on their customers. With AR, it's the same story -- use it where it will have a positive impact on the bottom line while also delivering real value to the customer. The Market partnership with Facebook is slightly different -- here they're leveraging data from another source to fill a gap and help them narrow the scope and focus of the offerings in The Market to appeal to a local audience. I think this is a smart approach, but there it's always risky when retailers outsource too much information and knowledge to third parties. The open question is what is the strategy when you look at all of these initiatives combined? Seems to me it's based on getting increased foot traffic to the store in the hopes that will translate into more purchases. Unfortunately, hope is not a strategy so I'd expect there is more to this than meets the eye that we are not hearing from Macy's. At least I hope so! Lastly, how does all of this fit in with Last Act and Backstage? Both of those initiatives still feel like they are cannibalizing Macy's apparel sales and training customers to expect lower prices before they buy. Those initiatives distract, while these new initiatives like The Market are all about giving non-price related reasons to come to the store.
  • Posted on: 09/18/2018

    Macy’s expands in-store pop-up concept with Facebook’s help

    Yes, they're all tactics -- at some level, Macy's is being like Walmart and experimenting in multiple dimensions to see what works. I think they deserve credit for that, but like most department stores today, they still haven't addressed the core problem -- who is Macy's in the eyes of their shopper!
  • Posted on: 09/18/2018

    Macy’s expands in-store pop-up concept with Facebook’s help

    Great point bringing up Last Act and Backstage. Both of those initiatives still feel like they are cannibalizing their own apparel sales and training customers to expect lower prices before they buy. Those initiatives distract, while these new initiatives like The Market are all about giving non-price related reasons to come to the store.
  • Posted on: 09/17/2018

    Walmart expands test of giant automated grocery kiosk

    Charles, your comments made me think of another point that Walmart may be studying with these test sites. It seems to me if you target a Walmart that is always busy, with long checkout lines, you'll see the kiosk used more often. For example, my nearest Walmart is just such a beast. Once you enter the store, there is no such thing as a "quick trip" -- you're sure to have five or more people in line at the checkout ahead of you no matter how many checkout lanes Walmart opens. The store is always just that crowded, as is the parking lot. If they were to place one of these kiosks at this location, I wonder how quickly those five spots would fill up!
  • Posted on: 09/17/2018

    Are grocers shortchanging flexitarians?

    Plant-based is no doubt an important trend given the data reported. Some grocery brands are doing a better job than others at promoting these products and making their customers aware of the options. Other brands may need to put more effort into joining the trend or they may risk losing customers to brands that show consumers the options they have more visibly. Grocers can't sustain an infinite number of products in their assortment, so they will still need to pick and choose carefully based on their customer profiles. Trends like these are why it is so important for grocers to really know and understand their customers' tastes if they are to deliver what those customers want and reap the sales rewards!
  • Posted on: 09/17/2018

    What will a ‘new standard for green retail’ mean for Starbucks’ results?

    More and more consumers, especially younger generations, feel stronger and stronger about supporting "green" movements. Retailers like Starbucks that capitalize on this trend are smart to do so, not just because of the potential long-term cost savings for the business, but also for the consumer appeal all while helping to improve the environment we all live in. This will no doubt generate some goodwill for them, perhaps better than what they've felt from declaring an end to plastic straws. Starbucks, Apple and many others are part of a growing group of corporations that realize continuing on a non-friendly path regarding the environment will only result in the inevitable backlash and potential boycotts of their brand. As for any cost implication, both short-term and long-term, retailers should look to stores like Treehouse for a great example of how to execute a 100 percent "green" store.
  • Posted on: 09/17/2018

    Walmart expands test of giant automated grocery kiosk

    Walmart continues to experiment to find the right formula for grocery pickup and delivery to maximize convenience for shoppers. It's interesting that in most of these experiments the goal is to satisfy the customer without asking them to enter the store - something that general buy-online pickup in-store methods are designed to promote. The kiosk strategy provides a strong convenience factor, although I wonder how effective this will be if it turns out to be extremely popular, generating lines at the kiosk similar to what a customer would see inside the store. What will the experience be for the sixth customer that approaches the kiosk? Will they perceive the added wait time as diminishing the overall convenience factor? I'm sure Walmart will be watching this and using the data to optimize the size of future kiosks. I expect many grocery shoppers are like me in that they don't enjoy the grocery shopping process and are looking for ways to minimize the time spent on it. This could be very appealing to a segment of Walmart shoppers.
  • Posted on: 09/14/2018

    Are ad agencies history?

    Someone I know well in the retail industry once said to me "data without insight is just trivia!" and he couldn't be more right! While data is king, the real trick is knowing how to use it to get the outcome you want. This turns the process of advertising and marketing into more of a science than a "gut feel" as it might have been described in the Don Draper days. This has left ad agencies far behind the times and as many others (including Scott Galloway) have pointed out, the entire ad industry is in decline. The point about traditional ad clients like newspapers and magazines looking for other revenue sources is indicative of something Prof. Galloway is fond of saying -- advertising is a tax on the poor while the rich are able to buy their way out of advertising via content subscription models. There seems to be no end in sight for this trend.
  • Posted on: 09/14/2018

    Macy’s plans for a very digital Christmas with seasonal hires


    Clearly, Macy's expects significant increases in digital shopping from their customers and so they have to adapt their seasonal labor to accommodate this. That said, they shouldn't assume stores won't be a focal point for shoppers this holiday season and need to be sure they have properly trained associates in stores for this outcome. Unfortunately, Macy's has a reputation for not having well-staffed stores and that's not going to help them in the holiday season. They, like other retailers, will need to fight for new hires in what may be a tighter labor market. They can't afford to scrimp on training either! Overall, it sounds like they have the right idea so long as they are sufficiently cautious -- I'm cheering for them to have a great holiday season!
  • Posted on: 09/14/2018

    Is mobile the most disruptive force in retail since online selling began?

    Mobile hasn't just changed how we shop, it's changed almost every aspect of our daily lives. Primarily by giving us access to any information we want, from anywhere we may be at our fingertips. 4G really changed the game and, in the future, 5G will revolutionize this yet again. At some point, retailers need to stop worrying about whether a shopper completes a purchase online vs. on mobile vs. in-store and just track that they made a purchase. They are all touchpoints that matter to the consumer, but consumers don't care about the distinction between these channels. Amazon and Apple do this well and seamlessly allow customers to move across those interfaces effortlessly and make purchases when and where they need to. Ananda raises another great point about the impact mobile has had on the back office and across the supply chain to last mile delivery. All of these areas have been impacted significantly and to great positive benefit by mobile. Again, with 5G this will only increase! I often tell people that the best way to judge the societal impact of a technology is to watch old (say from 10 years ago or more) TV shows and movies, especially action/adventure genres, and compare how the protagonists would fulfill their actions in the movie if the movie were being done today and they had access to smartphones. I can't count how many times my kids see these shows/movies and turn and say "why didn't they just use their iPhone to do that?" in scene after scene! That's how you know it's a life-changing technology!

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