PROFILE

Ron Margulis

Managing Director, RAM Communications
Ronald Margulis is Managing Director of RAM Communications, a public relations firm based in Cranford, NJ. RAM Communications provides media relations counseling, trade marketing and communications support to clients in the retail, transportation, manufacturing and technology industries. Among the services offered are media relations, information sourcing, speech writing, issue research and analysis, editorial and design analysis, newsletter publishing, presentation and video scripting, marketing brochure and training manual production, focus groups and meeting planning. With more than 1,000 articles published, Margulis is also an accredited journalist. His writings on the food, retail, tobacco, information technology and transportation industries have appeared in Canadian Business, Chicago Tribune, Cigar Magazine, Computerworld, Convenience Store News, Distribution Channels, Executive Technology, FT.com, Food Arts, Forbes, ID, Sales & Marketing, Shipping Digest, Supermarket News, Washington Times and several other newspapers and magazines. As an editor and reporter, he has interviewed more than 50 CEOs of leading global companies and dozens of government officials including four US Cabinet Secretaries, the Governor of the Bank of England and the Treasurer of Australia. Margulis has won numerous awards for his writing, has written more than one dozen industry reports/white papers and is contributing editor of three professional reference books. He has been quoted in several leading newspapers and magazines, including The Wall Street Journal, Associated Press, Philadelphia Inquirer and Smart Money, on topics ranging from technology to crisis communications, and has been featured on Bloomberg Radio, Talk Canada, Westwood One and National Public Radio. He has spoken at numerous business and academic conferences, and is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists and the Public Relations Society of America. Margulis graduated with honors from George Washington University, earned an MBA in economics from New York University and studied journalism at University of London. The son and grandson of supermarket operators, he also completed a management training internship and meat cutter’s apprenticeship at Wakefern Food Corp. (Shop-Rite Supermarkets). Margulis is married to Patricia Paul, an artist. They live in New Jersey with their daughter Elena. His recreational activities and hobbies include fencing (President, Westfield Fencing Club), hiking, skiing, reading, cooking and map collecting
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  • Posted on: 04/17/2019

    Will livestream shopping take off in the U.S.?

    It seems like the shopping behaviors of Eastern and Western cultures have diverged significantly during the past few years. Asian consumers are more drawn, and I’m writing in generalities here, to the frenetic pace of livestream shopping and the American and European consumer prefers peer-driven social media shopping. Neither is better than the other, just more appealing given their respective social norms and need states. The dynamics could certainly change, but retailers and brands need to be careful with their investments in the space or they might find themselves on the wrong side of the customer.
  • Posted on: 03/28/2019

    Will brands shine in a new online platform for shopping outlets?

    So I just spent 10 minutes trying to get on the site and was unsuccessful. We (my wife and I) are members of the Simon VIP Club and had received invites to the new shopping platform. The sign-up process through the invite and directly on the site didn’t work. Not a great start.
  • Posted on: 03/22/2019

    Are people investments paying off for retailers?

    If the speakers and vendors at Shoptalk earlier this month are any indication, this is a very hot space. Jim Donald, CEO of Albertsons, said; “The most important element of a successful retailer is the employees. Next is the customer. Then comes the investors and the management.” Several others shared similar sentiments and the expo floor had more than a dozen vendors eager to help retailers engage their staff members.
  • Posted on: 03/21/2019

    Can Instagrammable moments turn into immediate and direct sales?

    I’m surprised more retailers aren't using Instagram, Pinterest and similar apps to their advantage in store. Live Twitter feeds are now staples at tech conferences. Sports events are getting on board with live Facebook feeds and proprietary apps to be used at the arenas and tracks. Why can’t a supermarket stream recipes.com and related sites? Why aren’t drug stores streaming healthcare blogs? And why don’t Home Depot and Lowe’s share building/gardening project podcasts?
  • Posted on: 03/18/2019

    Can location intelligence provide a lifeline for retailers?

    There was a demo Microsoft gave at NRF this year featuring Kroger installations of screens showing promos on aisle ends that I feel will be leapfrogged by the type of technology Brian describes. Everyone already carries a screen around with them and they allow an infinite amount of personalization that isn’t available with mass view advertising or even in-store promotion. Why spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to outfit a store with tech that could very well be outdated before any ROI can be seen? While privacy is still very much an issue with this tech, it can be overcome with the right incentives and the absence of any “creep” factor. The folks at Microsoft and Kroger aren’t going to like this, but beacons in-store and elsewhere that send offers the shopper agrees to receive on her smartphone, not fancy in-store screens, is the way of the future.
  • Posted on: 02/15/2019

    Will Amazon’s decision to bail cause a New York backlash?

    One of the issues that hasn’t been raised is unions. Amazon doesn’t have them and many of the local pols in NYC are beholden to them. Can’t believe Amazon didn’t see that coming. Or, as has been widely speculated, they either thought the blowback wouldn’t be so bad or they had assurances from Cuomo and de Blasio that they would cover for Amazon. I suspect they will still build another major corporate center, perhaps in Toronto (if Bezos wants to poke Trump in the eye) or Boston.
  • Posted on: 02/08/2019

    Product and promo knowledge won’t make the sale

    There is a great deal of wisdom to the axiom that some people are just born salespeople. Sure, you can train people to do a better job engaging with customers and you can have them watch how the “naturals” sell. But the real talent is spotting the people who have the selling gene. This is where HR is supposed to earn its living but too often they are stuck dealing with compliance issues and under pressure to have warm bodies in the stores or call centers. C-level folks at retailers need to spend more time with their HR teams determining how to attract and retain those natural born sellers.
  • Posted on: 01/22/2019

    Can grocers sell produce without plastic bags and boxes?

    The end run here is that shoppers will ultimately have reusable containers for the various produce commodities they want to buy. I saw at least five exhibitors hawking different styles of these reusable containers at Fruit Logistica, the big European produce show in Berlin, last year. Some were similar in fashion and size to the bags Americans are used to, but much sturdier and with qualities that extend the item’s shelf life. Others ranged from recyclable bags to hard plastic boxes shaped like the fruit or vegetable they are intended to hold, almost like an egg carton.
  • Posted on: 01/07/2019

    Will AI, tariffs or some other news be the big retailing story of 2019?

    Every single retailer out there is focused on the fulfillment process. In 2019, they will be using BOPIS towers/lockers more, partnering with other retailers more and making more acquisitions to enhance the cost effectiveness of the final mile. This emphasis will continue to drive retailers to improve their supply chains and the speed to deliver while reducing the cost of goods sold. Tariffs will play a role here, mostly causing heartburn in the sourcing/procurement departments.
  • Posted on: 01/03/2019

    Will smart shelves work for Hannaford and its customers?

    Smart shelves are still a technology looking for an industry challenge to address. It is too expensive to be an effective productivity tool. Payback of a typical system would be more than 10 years. And attempts to pass off the costs to manufacturers have failed because smart shelves simply haven’t proven to deliver nearly the same impact on consumer behavior as other marketing tools. The bottom line is that whenever smart shelves have gained some publicity due to either advances in the technology or greater concentration on the issues the technology is trying to address, other applications have been deemed more critical and justifiably received the resources.
  • Posted on: 12/27/2018

    What are the takeaways from the best holiday season in six years?

    The key factor for this year’s holiday season success is, in a word, convenience. Retailers have finally come close to where the shopper wants them to be, from marketing, through sales and finally fulfillment. Retailers also took advantage of the early Thanksgiving this year to stretch the shopping season and have several campaigns.
  • Posted on: 12/19/2018

    Can Barnes & Noble’s in-store experts beat algorithms?

    I was always amazed how my father and grandfather knew what products shoppers at their stores wanted, what promotions would work and how customers would react to marketing efforts. They didn’t have data analytics or predictive modeling. They had near-constant engagement with the customers and that feedback was what made them sell more to more people. The best outcome of the Barnes & Noble campaign shouldn’t be the selling of another book, but rather a feedback mechanism that will give the company insight into what to do next and how to do it.
  • Posted on: 12/12/2018

    Is Kroger following the Sears playbook for self-destruction?

    I’ve been to several Kroger banner stores this year and it’s definitely hit and miss. The Ralph’s store I saw in Orange County and the King Soopers in Denver both were definitely in need of a facelift. The Fred Meyer and QFC in the Seattle area were in great shape and had buoyant staff. The Kroger in Atlanta near the airport and the Smith’s Marketplace just east of downtown Salt Lake City were decent enough, although they didn’t knock my socks off. Still like the Mariano’s a lot, and between that banner and Harris Teeter there should be more knowledge sharing of what works in the physical store to help boost the other banners.
  • Posted on: 12/11/2018

    Should Amazon buy Target?

    Targets are too big for what Amazon thinks is the physical retail of the future, as witnessed by the Whole Foods acquisition. They want 20,000-40,000 square feet for showroom, stock and customer service. Better targets (pardon the pun) would be either Barnes & Noble or Bed Bath & Beyond.Toys "R" Us would have been good too. BTW, I’m still convinced Amazon should buy the U.S. Postal Service and outfit their trucks with coolers to reach the economic threshold required to make home delivery on a mass scale financially feasible.
  • Posted on: 12/03/2018

    Has Amazon figured out how to scale its Go cashier-free tech to bigger stores?

    The real challenge in moving a store like Whole Foods to a cashier-less environment is the loss of shopper engagement. Whole Foods is a high touch retailer and that’s one of the primary reasons it’s been able to charge more for its products (I know they claim quality is the main reason but come on, twice as much for organic Gala apples…). Lose that and shoppers will really wonder if it’s worth the effort.

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