PROFILE

Scott Benedict

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: 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.
  • Posted on: 09/04/2019

    Will Walmart’s customers accept its rejection of the firearms ‘status quo’?

    I think a number of retailers, in particular Walmart, rightfully believe that they can be a force for good on a topic such as this where political leaders are cautious to act out of fear of the next election results. This topic hit closer to home for them, as Doug mentioned in his note, because two events happened within a week at Walmart stores. Walmart genuinely cares about its customers and its associates, and to do nothing in the wake of these events would not have been in line with its heritage and role as a leader on difficult topics of public interest. What surprised me the most, in a positive way, was the strong call to political leaders to address background check and assault rifle legislation currently pending in Congress. Challenging them to take action, having just done so themselves, was courageous but not altogether surprising as a former Walmart associate. The time had come for them to lead on this issue, and they do so -- effectively.
  • Posted on: 09/03/2019

    Will Lowe’s score with its ‘homegating’ game plan?

    The concept of expanding the licensed goods category outside of apparel and accessories and into home improvement is an interested experiment worth trying ... but not sure it will be successful given that Lowe's is not top of mind in this category. With the proper marketing and store merchandising, it might catch on in certain markets ... like here in College Station. It will be interesting to watch....
  • Posted on: 09/03/2019

    Walmart and BuzzFeed deliver shoppable recipes

    I absolutely believe that this functionality will become a driver of online grocery sales. Why? Because it engages an online shopper in a key new way beyond simply filling out their shopping list into engagement on new meal solutions and engaging in new products they may not have considered previously. This will be a win for the retailer, and the customer!
  • Posted on: 09/02/2019

    Amazon seeks more third-party price control

    Amazon is pioneering new ground here in the relationship between 3rd party sellers and their platform. Telling someone else what they can sell a product for would have previously crossed a red line legally; this approach feels like influence and collaboration based on data that could serve as a breakthrough in our industry. I'll be watching with interest....
  • Posted on: 09/02/2019

    Target leans on vendors in trade war

    I think this approach is not only unrealistic, but damaging to the longer-term relationship with suppliers. Working together to mitigate the impact, seeking to move production to other markets, or sharing insights on other alternatives is the type of partnership with builds business relationships in the longer term.
  • Posted on: 09/02/2019

    Social media antics cause grief at Walmart, Target, Home Depot, others

    Given that such "pranks" are dangerous to their customers, their employees, and the perpetrators, I'd advocate for taking a hard line on this activity ... before someone gets hurt.
  • Posted on: 09/02/2019

    Costco’s first day in China gets wild

    Given that one of the most successful Sam's Club locations in the world is in China, this is no surprise. The wholesale club format is idea for urban settings in China, where the population density and income levels are conducive for the format. In addition, access to products from other parts of the world are exciting to the Chinese consumer. As for the trade war, that's between our governments ... not our citizens.
  • Posted on: 08/26/2019

    Is technology really making stores more like the web?

    No, I do not think that omnichannel retailers are making the in-store experience more like shopping online. Rather, the best of the breed are leveraging technology to make the shopping experience for consumers faster, easier and more convenient for shoppers. From access to ratings & reviews data, to determining shelf locations in a specific store of a desired product, or to speed the checkout process in-store technology is all about customer convenience and greater efficiency ... when done right.
  • Posted on: 08/26/2019

    Will the next recession devastate mall-based retailers?

    The US Retail industry remains one of the largest and most financially-successful sectors in the US economy. The unfortunate reality has been that our industry was horribly overbuilt, with 5x the square footage per capita of other developed nations according to NRF. That said, yes, some weaker malls and weaker mall-based merchants might not survive ... and perhaps they shouldn't. However, their potential demise does not mean that retailing is weak, but rather that the weaker players will not survive the next downturn.
  • Posted on: 08/26/2019

    Groupon hopes its rewards program engenders more loyalty

    As a former Groupon leader, I am very confident that the card-linked deals are a significant customer experience improvement over the voucher-driven program that Groupon made its name on. The key for merchants will be how effectively that card-linked offers are visible to relevant users, and how well they drive incremental business volume for them. Regarding Groupon Select, my view is that Groupon's everyday pricing is very competitive and the offers that back up Groupon Select are not sustainable. Why don't they work on a faster shipping option, instead of cheaper products/services?
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