PROFILE

Scott Benedict

Executive Professor & Director - Center for Retailing Studies at Texas A&M University
I am a former retail merchandising and eCommerce executive that is now focused on developing the next generation of retailing leaders at one of the top universities in the country. I also consult with small brand manufacturers, retailers, and eCommerce firms.
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  • Posted on: 11/16/2021

    Is physical retail entering a new age?

    I most definitely see physical retail entering a new age. Since the dawn of e-commerce in the mid-1990s, so many have viewed physical and digital retail as separate businesses, and separate operating silos. That's not however how a customer wants to be served, and not how retail enterprises should be organized. I would argue that physical retail now becomes an interconnected element of a brand experience, and a way to serve a customer when and how they choose. Physical stores provide a quick and efficient way to deliver online orders, see and sample products in-person that were discovered online, and a nexus for local delivery that is essential to the future of retailing.
  • Posted on: 04/16/2021

    Can omnichannel be as profitable for retailers as in-store sales?

    "Can" omnichannel be as profitable for retailers as in-store sales? Absolutely -- well, that's the real issue isn't it? I would argue that you begin any discussion on this topic with an analysis in your own business of the value of an omnichannel customer. For a number of retailers, an omnichannel customer shops more frequently, buys more on each visit, is more loyal, and has a greater lifetime value. If that's not the case in your company -- you're doing something wrong. More specifically, you have to look at the basket economics of an online purchase vs. an in-store purchase. Are the units, dollars and profitability of an online-initiated purchase as good as your in-store business? If not, where are the gaps and how can your digital experiences be tuned to improve upon this? Item recommendations? Shopping lists of frequently purchased items? Recommended add-on items? From there, you have to look at your cost to serve. Can you fulfill a digital order as efficiently as an in-store purchase. Are you leveraging existing inventory investments and replenishment platforms, or utilizing dedicated resources and investments? Can you efficiently pick store pick-up orders, or are you more efficient in delivery from an automated fulfillment facility? Post-pandemic, I think these are the questions retailers and DTC brands need to be asking themselves, and finding the right answers. Can they? Yes. Will they? Stay tuned.
  • Posted on: 04/08/2021

    Will climate action become less of a priority for retail post-pandemic?

    Ultimately the initiatives for retailers related to climate change may now have to complete for internal financial resources with investments in technology and supply chain infrastructure driven by the more rapid acceptance of digital shopping and retailer's needs to embrace unified commerce as a critical business strategy. That said, environmental sustainability has shown to be an avenue for cost savings for a number of retail organizations. Walmart and other savvy retailers get paid for their recyclable materials such as cardboard, rather than paying someone to haul them off. They also benefit from a lower cost to operate a store, warehouse or office with LED lighting and more efficient HVAC systems. Working with suppliers to development more efficient supply chains will also save significant monies over time. So ... I think the answer is "no"; retail will continue to lead and invest in climate initiatives AND tech/supply chain enhancements.
  • Posted on: 04/08/2021

    Will Best Buy’s customers love its new service and savings plan?

    I think back to the launch of Amazon Prime, and how many of us from across retail were critical of the move, both competitively and economically. (How can they possibly make money on that program...?) Well, we see how that worked out. Move forward to the launch of Walmart+, and the new reports of how quickly consumers are adopting that program. The $200 price point is giving some a bit of heartburn, and I get that. However, the value equation of that offer, the core customer base of Best Buy (more affluent and tech savvy) and the fact that such programs are now more proven, suggests that one should not bet against BBY.
  • Posted on: 04/08/2021

    Amazon’s CEO Bezos comes out in support of national infrastructure bill

    The business community broadly, and the retail industry specifically, will benefit from these investments that increase American competitiveness in the global marketplace. Infrastructure such as roads, bridges, etc. are drivers of economic activity, and expanded broadband access and investment in schools help to prepare the future of our workforce. Retailers should benefit, and be willing to pay for, these enablers of economic growth that will benefit our industry ... and our nation ... for years to come.
  • Posted on: 03/29/2021

    Will H-E-B conquer Dallas-Fort Worth?

    H-E-B has made investments in digital, has continued to innovate with their physical store format, is know for being a great place to work and treating their employees well, and knows Texas consumers as well as anyone. They are going to do well, as will Costco, Walmart and Sam's Club. Others with unique niches, such as Whole Foods and Dollar General, will also do well. This will be an interesting case study to observe over the next 10 years.
  • Posted on: 03/28/2021

    Walmart uses brutal self-assessment in omnichannel turnaround strategy

    The short answer to the question "should more retailers follow Walmart's brutal self-assessment strategy?" is a resounding "yes!" The history of retail is brutally represented with previously successful retailers who thought that because they had been successful in the past, that they never needed to change or refine their approach to a dynamic and ever-changing marketplace. As a former Walmart associate, and a member of the founding team of what became Walmart.com, I'm so very proud of my former company for taking this approach. To not do so would have surely resulted in their demise over time. Technology has enabled a number of ways to improve the customer experience, and the pandemic has accelerated the pace of change in effective ways to serve a customer in difficult times. Continually challenging yourself to improve your customer experience, and driving for profitable growth in your business, are the only constants in retail.
  • Posted on: 11/13/2020

    Should C-suite execs keep their opinions to themselves on store visits?

    Part of being a leader in any organization -- particularly in retailing -- is serving as a "coach" for your team, whether it's in the office or in the field. Feedback is a gift, if delivered as a way to improve performance. Also, feedback isn't just a negative...it could also be about things that are going right as well.
  • Posted on: 06/23/2020

    Would Amazon and Google benefit from publishing fake consumer reviews?

    I cannot say this strongly enough; publishing fake reviews -- anytime, anywhere -- is a horribly bad idea. Consumers MUST have confidence in what they are reading and seeing on any platform. Fake reviews in any context are a bad idea that damages the credibility of all reviews, everywhere.
  • Posted on: 04/02/2020

    How will this change us?

    Well if we were being honest with ourselves, the industry's front line workers "should" continue to be recognized for their heroic efforts in our current state of emergency. When that will actually be the case our not likely depends on the specific retailer and the cultural value they place on their workforce generally, and these individuals specifically. It should be noted that truck drivers and warehouse personnel are equally heroic right now, working long hours to get merchandise on trucks and out to stores. In addition, the employees at fulfillment centers that pick, pack and ship online orders should also be recognized for their efforts. Finally, as a former buyer, I know that the buying team at a number of retailers -- particularly those in the grocery segment -- are working extremely hard to locate product, get orders placed and following them through the supply chain and into stores right now. To be sure, there are heroes across the retail industry right now. They are gaining experience and skills in dealing with a crisis that will prove invaluable in the future. Smart retailers will recognize, appreciate, reward and retain these battle-hardened veterans of this crisis well into the future ... if they're smart.
  • Posted on: 12/10/2019

    Did Aviation Gin just make lemonade from Peloton’s lemons?

    A genius move by Ryan Reynolds and Aviation Gin; that said, Peloton did nothing wrong here, in my view.
  • Posted on: 10/22/2019

    What should retailers do when brands post fake reviews?

    I believe -- strongly -- in a "hard line" approach to this topic. Consumers must be able to have faith that reviews on your site, or for your brand, are an accurate depiction of true consumer sentiment. As such, it is necessary to put in place processes to confirm the accuracy of reviews (that they were provided by consumers not by others) and the removal and penalties for inaccurate reviews should be swift and painful for those that engage in deceptive behavior -- up to and including dropping them from your assortment.
  • Posted on: 10/17/2019

    Is e-grocery less convenient than shopping in stores?

    Shopping for products that are a regular, staple part of your weekly shopping trip will become easier to be sure. List building and personalization technology will make to traditional "stock up" shopping trip easier, particularly for time-starved families. However, gaining the impulse or unexpected add-on purchase will become more difficult unless personalization technology makes quality recommendations during the online shopping experience or through digital marketing tactics such as email or during search activities. The significant missed opportunity for most grocers is the meal planning and meal solution use case, where an online shopper seeks to research or gain recommendations on purchases as a solution to a specific shopping objective, such as an event (birthday party, entertaining, tailgating, etc.), or to solve a specific need state (Keto diet, low carb, organic ingredients, etc.).
  • Posted on: 10/02/2019

    Is Walmart’s CEO the right leader for Business Roundtable?

    Without a doubt ... yes, he is the perfect person. Walmart learned from Hurricane Katrina that large companies can be a force for good in the world. Walmart's historic response to help communities and individuals impacted by that event changed them in ways no one could have predicted. However, as a former Walmart leader and someone who knows Doug, his values and insight as well as those of the company he leads are exactly what is needed from large companies in our nation right now. Business -- specifically retail -- is stepping up and leading on a range of topics in ways that government is not. Doug will provide a positive leadership approach to this group.
  • Posted on: 09/17/2019

    Barnes & Noble College goes to school on Gen Z

    BNC is a great example of how physical retail stores remain relevant, particularly to a generation that is known for being digital natives. While Gen Z is perceived as harder to reach and to attract than prior generations, that may be reflective of the sheer number of shopping choices they have grown accustomed to that have been enabled by technology, rather than by their own personality traits. They consume media from a number of sources, and engage with brand influencers that are different than those of prior generations. That said, their economic buying power is large and getting larger each year. The key to reaching this consumer is to understand where they live online, and to be where they are headed. They trust their peers more than institutions or brands. They have the ability and inclination to do more online research than prior generations. In short, they are more "work" to reach, but too big a market to dismiss.
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