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. 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: 11/16/2018

    Apple-inspired Glossier opens ‘adult Disneyland’ flagship store

    What a great example of redefining the store as a true destination that people put on their lists when they visit a new locale. "It's not about selling things ..." Indeed! A wonderful example of creating a destination that just happens to be a "store. I would not expect to see large numbers of these stores popping up everywhere -- where they are located is just as important as what's inside and they're wise to think carefully about this.
  • Posted on: 11/16/2018

    RetailWire Christmas Commercial Challenge: Amazon vs. Best Buy

    Both of these are great at their intended purpose. Amazon, as the "everything store" doesn't really need to focus on products so they strive to instill a feel-good moment through their ad while still subtly bringing in strong imagery of their logistics process and reinforce the idea that they can deliver to you no matter where you are whenever you want. Plus the added touch of convenience they show us with Alexa. Kudos to Best Buy on the other hand for focusing on a core asset -- their well-trained associates and how they can help any customer with the difficult task of finding the right gift. These ads do a fantastic job of reminded the shopper that they can count on getting the help they need in the store -- and nice touch highlighting how they can help you in your own home! At the same time, you could see these ads playing at almost any time of year, so they don't do the best job of leveraging the holiday season. Still, I give the nod to Best Buy for delivering a direct message that really encourages the shopper to visit the store, knowing you'll get all the help you need form their associates. I wish more retailers embraced that attitude towards their greatest asset -- their people!
  • Posted on: 11/15/2018

    Is last minute absenteeism playing havoc with retail store performance?

    This is not a problem that can be completely solved -- there will always be last-minute absenteeism to deal with. Retailers need to develop processes (technology can help but not solve 100 percent) that create flexibility in labor scheduling. Most retailers will find that their associates will welcome increased flexibility that allows them to be part of the process to cover last-minute scheduling changes. No worker wants to be short-staffed. When the scheduling decisions do not include the associates in some way you get more broken schedules as a result and stores with staffing issues that result in less-than-satisfied customers.
  • Posted on: 11/15/2018

    Will displaying produce by season set a new grocery concept apart from rivals?

    This is a great idea that will appeal to certain consumers who crave more knowledge about where their food comes from and how it is grown. Shoppers that look for those details are already likely thinking about seasonality. In fact, in my suburban area where we are surrounded by many organic farms, many shoppers base their purchase of fruits and vegetables on what is locally grown and everyone knows what to expect at the start of each season. As a grocery store concept, this would have fantastic appeal in our area.
  • Posted on: 11/15/2018

    I don’t like Amazon as much as I did last week

    Long-term, people will get over any discomfort they feel about Amazon's process in defining the location(s) for HQ2. Perhaps I'm biased since I live in the D.C. metro area, but I have to agree with the prediction Professor Galloway made so long ago -- it was never going to be anywhere but New York or DC in some way. Amazon's goal here was access to the talent they need to fuel growth. Both of these metro areas have an inherent attraction to the talent pool Amazon wants. They were never going to pick a city on the West Coast -- they already have Seattle. Midwest cities might have had a chance, but when weighing the talent pool of NY and DC this is sadly quite predictable. Now, that they chose two locations in those metro areas, Long Island City, and Crystal City, VA is surprising. Living in the DC area it's hard to see how Crystal City will sustain 25,000 new jobs for Amazon plus the office space, etc. That just feels like a choice driven by proximity to the federal government. And Long Island City? I leave it to the NY natives to explain that one (and as others have said, I have to agree it was never going to be Manhattan).
  • Posted on: 11/14/2018

    Is 7-Eleven using ICE to get rid of troublesome franchisees?

    They say any publicity is good publicity, but sometimes, bad publicity really is just plain bad! This isn't the first time we're hearing about potentially abusive behavior by 7-Eleven corporate towards their franchisees. This is definitely not the way to develop a good business relationship. That corporate feels compelled to leverage tactics like this to push out their poor performing franchisees is quite telling about the corporate culture and doesn't do much for recruitment purposes. You have to wonder what is the real goal here -- just to eliminate franchisees seen as troublesome or poor performers? Or is corporate deciding they simply have too many stores to allow for a consistent customer experience int he future? Convenience stores are evolving and 7-Eleven is falling behind in many ways. I can't see how this approach is going to help them move forward in any direction but into a downward spiral. How many consumers will hear this story and now feel they no longer want to shop there!
  • Posted on: 11/14/2018

    Visually rich social content produces ‘shoppable’ experiences for retailers

    Visual platforms are great marketing tools for retailers, but we are still at the dawn of the commerce age for these platforms as relatively low adoption rates seem to prove today. While I believe this is just the beginning and we will definitely see growth here, it's still early to tell how successful this channel will be compared to others. The challenge will be in retailers' ability to generate a constant flow of fresh, appealing content for these mediums, but so far we are seeing many examples that prove there is a strong future here.
  • Posted on: 11/14/2018

    What’s missing from everyday fashion rental subscription services?

    I think Nikki hits exactly the two points that have made subscription services appealing to consumers - the element of surprise, and the idea of using a product you otherwise would not buy. With everyday apparel, we're talking about items that the consumer would already be inclined to buy which most likely they would use quite frequently. So the appeal of opening the box and seeing something unexpected is gone, and the items themselves, once opened, don't carry that awe-inspiring "I can't believe I have this" feeling either. That leaves the price as a deciding factor for many consumers to opt into these subscription services. While that may work for some, I suspect this is an experiment that will need continued tweaking to find the right price point and service combination that works for a critical mass of consumers such that the retailer finds it financially worthwhile.
  • Posted on: 11/13/2018

    Do grocery stores have a customer engagement problem?

    There is more to engagement than meets the eye! Let's face it — for most consumers, grocery shopping is a "must-do", not a "want-to-do" process. The experience shopping at the majority of supermarkets in the U.S. hasn't changed that much in decades. Convenience has taken over in the minds of most consumers as the desired objective for grocery shopping. That means fewer visits per week, but each visit demands a better experience to be fruitful. Most brands are not succeeding at this just yet and there is plenty of room for improvement. Apart from the convenience factors we've discussed in this forum before (particularly around pickup and delivery options), how much progress have grocers made around giving shoppers complete ideas on what to make for dinner that night? We always hear about delivering recipes and shopping lists via email, but which brands have implemented this in a seamless manner such that shoppers can really take advantage and go to the store to buy just the ingredients they need to make a quick delicious dinner? Wegmans is a good example of doing a good job at this, but there aren't too many others — Whole Foods, perhaps. And that's just one example of how grocers could engage. When the store itself is smaller, there are other possibilities to get to know your customer and build a long-term relationship that encourages the customer to keep coming back. Larger format stores struggle with this and need to rely on more technology to fill the gaps.
  • Posted on: 11/13/2018

    Will right-sized stores drive bigger returns for Macy’s?

    Smaller-is-better is definitely gaining mindshare as the new mantra in retail. While reducing the store footprint and merchandise may make sense in underperforming stores, I'm not sure how coupling that with a 40% reduction in staff leads to a better customer experience. Anecdotally, the first thought that comes to mind of anyone I know whom I ask what their Macy's experience is like is that the store was understaffed when they were last there. It's a common perception I see for just about any Macy's store other than Herald Square, and it's something this plan isn't going to address. From a strategic point of view, as long as this is part of a larger change strategy to the format of those stores and not just a short-term vision, then it may produce positive results. I would rather see Macy's use the space to introduce concepts like Story or b8ta in those spaces and see what that produces, but of course this would have a cost impact they may not want.
  • Posted on: 11/12/2018

    Why do Millennials love private label groceries so much?

    I don't accept that this is purely a Millennial-driven outcome. The fact is, more and more consumers are being value-driven in the grocery store and that value equation is truly a multivariable one not just based on price. The quality is there in private label goods to draw the attention of most shoppers. You also have to consider where each demographic group is shopping as Ananda pointed out in his comments. If we accept that more Millennials shop at stores like Aldi which are fundamentally private label driven, then data such as this will skew in the favor of private label. A more broad analysis is needed. The bottom line I'd say is that private label will continue to expand -- and this is a wake-up call for CPG brands that need to realize they are not connecting with the modern consumer in the same way they once did. That brand loyalty is fading and CPGs need to act if they want to turn this around.
  • Posted on: 11/12/2018

    Why do Millennials love private label groceries so much?

    Ananda, I think you hit on something more important that just focusing on the private label brands in a silo won't reflect -- and that's the selection of the store brand, to begin with, by Millennials and any other demographic group. You can't evaluate one without the other.
  • Posted on: 11/12/2018

    Amazon and Apple get co-opetitive

    It's just business. Amazon knows consumers want Apple products and there's no reason for Amazon not to benefit from those sales directly. Apple wants their products available wherever their target consumers shop -- and that means being present front and center on Amazon. It's a win-win for both from a sales/revenue perspective and also provides a way for each to keep an eye on the others activities for those areas where they do compete. If big tech has proven anything it's that there is room in consumers' lives for all of these products and the spend levels are there to prove it.
  • Posted on: 11/12/2018

    Is it time for U.S. retailers to embrace Singles Day?

    With the size and momentum Singles Day is carrying now, it is inevitable that it will reach a global scope that U.S. retailers cannot ignore. The challenge is the close proximity to Black Friday. Unless retailers transform November into an all month discount affair, I can see how this would cause consumers either confusion or the belief that it's just another Black Friday gimmick. Overall, I believe there is room for another "fabricated" shopping holiday, Prime Day taught us that! It will take Alibaba fully driving this in the U.S. market to provide the kick-start needed to turn Singles Day into a global event.
  • Posted on: 11/08/2018

    Will Walmart’s bring your own device policy work for it and its associates?

    From Walmart's perspective (and any other retailer taking the same BYOD approach) there are a number of benefits: cost savings from needing fewer corporate-provided devices that will need to be constantly refreshed, higher adoption of the apps by associates, quicker time to being ready to serve on the store floor with associates not needing to pick up and set up a corporate device. Operationally and financially, this is a win for Walmart. For the associate, the benefits are new tools to make their job easier and better when serving customers using a device they already know how to operate and cost savings on their mobile bill. While this seems a bit lopsided in favor of Walmart, I'd expect a high rate of adoption. The security and privacy concerns are real and valid but I believe Walmart would address these as would any other corporate entity. That said, with a large amount of savings potential Walmart has, I hope the discount the associates are getting is significant for their service plans and a hardware discount or equivalent would be a great incentive, too! I'm surprised they didn't do this sooner and expect to see many other retailers follow their lead.

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