PROFILE

Ricardo Belmar

Retail Transformation Thought Leader, Advisor, & Strategist

As retailers, CPG brands, retail tech, 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 achieve business value from technology investments by optimizing their store infrastructure and unified commerce systems to deliver omnichannel customer experiences and drive digital revenue.

Ricardo also helps emerging retail tech organizations develop marketing strategies segmented and targeted to the best audience for their solutions, leveraging his 20+ years of industry experience, marketing expertise, and retail influence and relationships across media and analysts covering the industry.

A top industry influencer in retail, consumer goods, payments tech, and restaurant industries on technology trends, Ricardo can be actively found on Twitter and LinkedIn and is regularly a Top 10 social media influencer at the annual NRF Big Show. He was named Social Media Mayor at the 2015 Retail Executive Summit, the 2015 ENGAGE Summit, the 2016 RetailTech Conference, the 2018 Retail Experience Summit, and the “Chief Twit” for Twitter engagement at RetailROI’s Super Saturday 2015 and 2016 events. He conducts frequent video interviews of senior executives from retail, CPG, and restaurant brands and industry analysts while also frequently interviewed by retail publications and podcasts. Most recently, Ricardo was the Sr Director of Global Marketing and Communications for Infovista and an ICX Association director. He is also a strong supporter of the RetailROI charity organization.

Recently named a top 100 retail industry influencer by RETHINK Retail, Ricardo is a marketing strategist and founder of Retail Razor, where he advises retail tech organizations of all sizes with their go-to-market, brand strategy, and integrated marketing by leveraging his many years of tech industry experience, and media and industry analyst relationships. He also advises retailers on how to build & scale transformational customer experiences. A frequent contributor to blogs, podcasts, and publications in the retail, payments, and enterprise software industries, focusing on digital transformation and customer experience, Ricardo is a Top 10 social media influencer at the annual NRF Big Show. He is a featured member of RetailWire’s BrainTrust panel, a previous ICX Association director, a RETHINK Retail Advisory Council member, and a founding Advisory Council member of George Mason University's Center for Retail Transformation. He has been named Social Media Mayor by RIS News four times at retail conferences and is a contributor to Retail Customer Experience, Mobile Payments Today, and The Robin Report. Ricardo is a supporter of the RetailROI charity organization and can be found leading industry discussions on Clubhouse in the Retail Razor Club and on Twitter and LinkedIn. Throughout the past two decades, Ricardo has worked for technology and managed services providers targeting the retail ecosystem in roles as head of their product, product marketing, or marketing organizations. Most recently, he joined Microsoft as their Sr Partner Marketing Advisor for Retail & CPG where he strives to strengthen Microsoft’s retail tech partner community. Ricardo holds a BS in Electrical Engineering from the University of Virginia and is a Section4 Certified Strategist, Brand Strategist, Product, and Platform Strategist. Opinions expressed are those of the author only and not his employer.
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  • Posted on: 06/07/2021

    What will Etsy do with Depop?

    Etsy is quietly building a very interesting marketplace that differs from the competition in important ways that will attract younger demographics. The Depop acquisition is very complementary to the existing marketplace and puts increased value on sustainability and environmental friendliness - perceptions that matter to Gen Z shoppers. Etsy has traditionally been more weighted to Millennial shoppers, but these values are a common thread to both groups that should work in Etsy's favor. I expect this may be the beginnings of something bigger for Etsy that we should all pay attention to as they have become a clear winner coming out of the pandemic.
  • Posted on: 06/07/2021

    Walmart gives associates free phones and a mobile work app

    An impressive move by Walmart to provide nearly a quarter-million Samsung devices to employees with a single, integrated app experience that greatly improves store associates' ability to serve customers. Many news reports of this program have fixated on the free phones being given to employees and that they can use them as their personal device, but I believe the most significant news here is the app Walmart is providing that streamlines many tasks, and finally enables store associates with tools at least as good (if not better) like those available to Walmart customers. This is long overdue across retailers, not just Walmart. It appears the Ask Sam feature is already widely used and may end up having the most impact on improving the Walmart in-store experience. I'll be curious to see how many employees adopt this device as their personal device - that implies many questions, such as personal phone number transfers, data transfers from another device, etc., so it's interesting to see if employees will see this as a second or "work device" or an integrated device for work and personal use. Overall, I'm pleased to see Walmart take such a dramatic position to improve its associate enablement!
  • Posted on: 06/07/2021

    Will closing stores on Thanksgiving become the new retail tradition?

    Front-line retail workers are top of mind for most consumers since the pandemic began. Closing on Thanksgiving Day is one way for retailers to promote a positive, caring attitude towards those workers that everyone will appreciate. Those that still want to shop can do so online and the 2020 holiday shopping season proved (as I wrote about here in December) that retailers can spread holiday sales throughout the season without losing out on any Black Friday related shopping. Consumers learned to like finding those holiday deals without all the hectic and crowded store visits on Thanksgiving/Black Friday. I expect this year will look very much the same with retailers moving up their holiday promotions and adjusting their inventories to accommodate. No doubt there will be a desire to avoid the shipageddon situation from 2020!
  • Posted on: 06/02/2021

    Will marketplace sellers carry the Prime Day for Amazon?

    They are absolutely sending a message of "we support you" vs "go it alone" - and I see that as a bit of a dig on platforms like Shopify that enable small business sellers to do it on their own. Makes you wonder when we'll see other platforms (again, like Shopify) offer something similar to Prime Day in a seamless manner to consumers.
  • Posted on: 06/02/2021

    Will marketplace sellers carry the Prime Day for Amazon?

    Paula, I honestly expect to see both happen!
  • Posted on: 06/02/2021

    Will marketplace sellers carry the Prime Day for Amazon?

    Third-party marketplace sellers have already become the backbone and engine of growth for Amazon retail sales, and this Prime Day will be no different! As we see, Amazon's PR is working hard to promote the success of small businesses selling on their platform as an indicator to detractors/regulators of the benefits Amazon's platform brings. In recent years, Prime Day has been mostly about two types of sales - third-party sellers and Amazon devices. I expect this year to be more of the same, and Amazon's early shopping program will likely work very well to foster Prime Day sales from those third-party merchants. The future of Amazon in retail is clearly their marketplace full of third-party sellers. Ultimately, I expect Amazon first-party sales to become just Amazon devices and books while they let everyone else sell the rest of the "everything store."
  • Posted on: 05/28/2021

    Can Wilson Sports win at lifestyle fashion and consumer-direct sales?

    While this makes sense as a brand extension and sales growth strategy, the athletic lifestyle category is getting crowded. Opening stores, presumably as flagship locations, is a smart move to extend the brand's marketing. The strategy of special drops and collaborations is a strong way to jump in following the footsteps of the brand pioneers in the category like Nike, Adidas, Fila, and others, so this will be interesting to watch. Wilson has enough brand recognition and loyalty to make a go at this but it may take some time to see a significant return on this strategy. This is also a continuation of the direct-to-consumer trend we see so many brands engaging in, and Wilson Sports won't be the last!
  • Posted on: 05/28/2021

    Retailers and brands are using the wrong KPIs to make digital and social media buys

    Exposure measurement has always been easier to generate than true outcome performance measurement. That doesn't mean retailers and brands shouldn't push for outcome metrics over exposure if they want to know what really works to convert more shoppers into buyers. Today's tech and tools have improved dramatically, especially with the help of AI/ML and it is time for retailers and brands to adopt these outcome metrics more broadly. Those that embrace this challenge will be the winners, and we can see evidence of this by looking at the most successful brands today.
  • Posted on: 05/28/2021

    Should Amazon or rivals be more wary if it opens brick and mortar pharmacies?

    It's safe to say that every incursion into brick-and-mortar by Amazon has been an extended experiment. Apart from the Whole Foods acquisition, none of the physical store plays Amazon has made have to-date resulted in many stores. That doesn't mean the experiment is over. Adding pharmacies to the mix would offer Amazon a tremendous learning opportunity and help their healthcare market penetration. I believe the best play for them is to open Amazon Go convenience stores with pharmacies rather than standalone or combined with grocery formats. Why? Amazon likes to disrupt a market, so what would be more disruptive than challenging both c-store formats AND drugstores at the same time?
  • Posted on: 05/21/2021

    If you google ‘Google store’, you’ll find one opening in NYC

    I see this as more of a learning experience than purely chasing incremental hardware and device sales through one flagship store location. Google has struggled with retail and supporting retailers as compared to Amazon's ecosystem. I am not sure this is the start of an Apple Store-like strategy, even with Google experts staffing the store, but it can certainly help Google better understand retail and retailers in general. That said, Google needs a showcase to demonstrate the benefits of smart home technologies to grow its user base, and a store footprint is the best way to do that.
  • Posted on: 05/13/2021

    How high can thredUP grow?

    No question that the second-hand market and resale for apparel, in general, is on-trend right now and interest is growing! ThredUp is well-positioned for this, but the question is how do they become profitable? Does the cost model really work for this business, and how many players will the market support? I particularly took note of the comment about becoming the infrastructure for the Internet for the resale market. Becoming the go-to platform for resale has to be the goal -- bringing both suppliers and buyers together via their platform, wherever the access point may be for the consumer -- a brick and mortar retailer, e-commerce site, thredUp's own site, etc. Overall I'm bullish, but concerned about how long it will take to get there.
  • Posted on: 05/13/2021

    Simon says J.C. Penney is ready to become a 21st century retailer

    Simon's words certainly sound encouraging from a balance sheet perspective, but where are the words that tell us what the J.C. Penney brand will mean to consumers? What is the "first goal" that speaks to new customer acquisition? What about retention plans for the customers that have stuck with the brand through all of this turmoil and restructuring? While it's great to see ABG brands will be part of the equation, how does management know those products will attract a new customer base to J.C. Penney stores? As others have pointed out in the comments J.C. Penney has lost an entire generation of shoppers. How will they be attracted to the brand now? I see more questions than answers in David Simon's statements, so I hope there is more meat to the plan that we are seeing currently, otherwise, this will be the next Sears!
  • Posted on: 05/12/2021

    Will going low lift up Bed Bath & Beyond’s sales and profits?

    As many have commented, this is a bit of a "no-brainer" approach -- BB&B needed a good/better/best strategy in these categories and Simply Essentials is a good start to that needed approach. However, building a product you know you didn't have for a customer you were missing out on is not a guarantee they will suddenly walk through your doors. Target's approach to such private labels involved significant marketing and I expect Bed Bath to do the same to garner attention to this new brand. Customers need to know these products exist and what value they will bring to them if they visit a Bed Bath store or their website. If they can solve that problem first, then having the right product fit will naturally happen.
  • Posted on: 05/12/2021

    Uber Eats delivers dinner with a side of blush

    Adjacent categories? Sure, but that's not the real point here. Look at this as an experiment to see how consumers will react to using Uber (Eats) as a destination for ordering anything they need to be delivered NOW. It's the start of making Uber be the next mega-app platform for all your immediate delivery needs (alongside Instacart, GoPuff, DoorDash, and others!).
  • Posted on: 05/12/2021

    Are two PacSun CEOs better than one?

    While I don't know very much about Alfred Chang, I do know Mike Relich well enough to say he's an exceptionally skilled retail leader, especially when it comes to retail technology. Looking at this from the outside, it appears PacSun has chosen two retail leaders with very complementary skill sets to lead the company. I suspect they will be in good hands going forward without much conflict. Is this a long-lasting arrangement? Time will tell if this is transitional or long-term.

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