Zel Bianco

President, founder and CEO Interactive Edge

Zel Bianco and Interactive Edge have been helping companies, specifically in the Consumer Goods industry, run more efficiently since 1994. Zel’s focus is always on the needs of the client. He strives to be a real business partner to every customer — no matter what the size of the contract or the scope of the implementation. He wants to help companies eliminate the cumbersome and time consuming tasks associated with data management and organization in order to free up users time so that they can do what they were hired to do: generate insights to grow their business. Zel enjoys helping clients bridge the gap between category management and shopper insights. He collaborates with clients in the development of a process that streamlines the flow of qualitative data into customer facing presentations and reports.

As the president, founder and CEO of Interactive Edge, Zel is responsible for setting the company’s strategic vision and developing business alliances. He is also an industry thought leader who has enjoyed presenting at many industry conferences such as the Food Marketing Institute (FMI), National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS), the International Committee of Food Retail Chains (CIES), SAP’s SAPPHIRE and SAP’s TechEd Demo Jam. He has been honored to speak at both DePaul University and Michigan State University, and has donated the Interactive Edge XP3 software for use by students at both of their business schools. Interactive Edge and its customers have won numerous industry awards in areas including Customer Management, Visionary Innovation, and Demand Data Analytics.

Prior to founding Interactive Edge, Zel held senior account management positions in the advertising industry, at Young & Rubicam and other large New York agencies. He worked with many consumer package goods clients and was a part of the account management team that introduced the IBM personal computer.

More information about Zel and his solution for presenting demand data analytics can be found at the Interactive Edge website.

  • Posted on: 04/17/2019

    Apple owns the checkout at Decathlon’s sporting goods store

    Yes, this will save time and let customers avoid lines but it will not be without its issues. Even restaurants are using this technology which in many cases seems to work well. I still think the Amazon Go method, once perfected, will be the one to watch as the need for store personnel is less than the Decathlon approach. As most of have said in other discussions, technology to automate the process, whether it be robots doing the scanning, ordering and even mopping up the floor to scan and go, is a good thing as long as it does not eliminate positions but places the personnel in areas where service levels and shopper satisfaction are improved because of the shift.
  • Posted on: 04/12/2019

    Why consumers are breaking bonds with their favorite brands

    What happened is that many of these brands/CPG companies were too greedy. They thought their multi-billion dollar brands "were too big to fail" and they remained greedy. They did not see the newer competitors coming or they did not care until it was too late. Now they are desperately trying to change their tune but are finding that younger consumers are seeing through their attempts to fit in or be more empathetic, etc. What can they do? They are finding that the only way to not be left behind is to buy the smaller upstarts as we have seen with Gillette and many other categories. It's the nature of the business and it will, in my humble opinion, start to balance out over the next five to 10 years, but big CPG be aware - your lunch will be eaten unless you wake up and see that the consumer of today doesn't care that your brand has been number one for the last 150 years.
  • Posted on: 04/10/2019

    Will Walmart clean up with its robotic workforce?

    Walmart's associates already do a good job of being helpful to shoppers and the added time will only raise the service levels. The automation that is being used to scan the shelves and the FAST unloaders will also improve the shopper experience as they will most likely find what they are looking for. When shoppers have the additional option of pick up from a vending machine, like "Carvana" is doing with cars, it will all add up to having Walmart continue to use automation technology to not only help them lead the way with their supply chain and back office operations but please the shopper with pricing, product availability and ease of pick up and fulfillment. There are other retailers that are doing this but Walmart seems to be the one that may occasionally fall slightly behind, but not for long.
  • Posted on: 04/01/2019

    Are third parties the biggest reason delivery costs keep going up?

    This is the reason that Boxed is successful. They understand how to use the carriers' built-in allowance for weight/size of the box equation to make themselves money. The way they pack the box with extra items without increasing the cost to ship is their secret sauce. I just heard the founder speak at an industry conference and his method seems to be very smart.
  • Posted on: 03/21/2019

    Can Instagrammable moments turn into immediate and direct sales?

    I think this has significant potential as anything that makes it easier for the consumer/shopper to make a purchase while not having to leave the app is smart. From day one, the goal for all of us, whether we are a solution provider, retailer or brand, is to have the user stay on your site/app as long as possible. Instagram listens and watches what their users do and follows up with ideas and applications that keep their app sticky.
  • Posted on: 03/15/2019

    Pets rule the retail roost

    In my opinion pets and spending on pets follows a similar path as Bev Al. Whether the economy is good or bad, people still drink their wine, beer and spirits. Same with spending on pets. In fact, couples spend on gifts for pets of their adult children. I know this to be true, as we do this with our daughter's dog.
  • Posted on: 03/08/2019

    The rise of the chief artificial intelligence officer

    If there is already a CIO in place, it would make sense to have the the lead on AI be under the CIO as he or she should have the broader view of the overall technology road map for the organization. AI and data science and the overall technology go-to-market strategy and execution should all be connected. You need one "head chef."
  • Posted on: 03/07/2019

    Where are grocers failing on in-store experience?

    Of course this comes down to money, especially for skilled and informed help. Help is not only hard to find in the grocery store, but chances are when you do find someone, they don't know the answer to the question being asked. "Not my department" is the usual and terrible answer. Yes, there are numerous opportunities in the store for tastings, classes, etc., but if you can't cover the very basic items like having at least a few knowledgeable, helpful personnel in the store to help customers, you've already lost your shot.
  • Posted on: 03/06/2019

    Will attribute-based product recommendations be a game changer for Walmart?

    It's one giant step closer to providing a personalized experience for the shopper which is all good.
  • Posted on: 03/01/2019

    Retailers take on massive legacy system challenges one module at a time

    I really hope this is true. So many companies have taken the approach of implementing these years-long ERP system replacements so that nothing else gets done, to the detriment of sales solutions and other critical applications that effect the top and bottom lines. That's not to say that ERP and other internal systems don't need attention, they do, but when other solutions take a back seat to them, the only ones that seem to win are the big legacy software companies that are glad to keep the retailer paying out big dollars because there is no way to turn back. This same scenario goes for the internal IT projects that promise to deliver ROI and then a year and sometimes two years later produce very little to show for the money spent. Point solutions do work and do produce ROI in many cases, faster and at far less cost than can be accomplished internally. I have witnessed this to be the case over the last 25 years in this business many times.
  • Posted on: 02/20/2019

    Is Walmart just starting to hit its stride?

    As McMillon stated, they are walking the walk by executing aggressively on the strategy of meeting shoppers where and when they want to buy. If they continue to innovate in this area as well as focus on better assortment in certain categories, they will be stronger going forward. I do think the "look and feel" of the store can continue to be improved.
  • Posted on: 02/13/2019

    Retail leaders need to care more about tech

    Yes and no. Clearly a good CEO needs to keep up with significant new developments in technology but not at the expense of leading the business. After all, with technology changing so fast and every new solution claiming to be the one that will impact the business the most, when would a CEO have the time to run the business? A good CEO hires smart people that can and should be the ones to filter the technology solutions that are a good fit and then assess their benefits specifically for the issues they are trying to solve. How could a CEO be able to fully grasp every piece of technology on the floor of NRF and have time for anything else?
  • Posted on: 02/13/2019

    Can Whole Foods’ business afford higher prices?

    My sense is that Whole Foods will not be able to raise prices any more than it already has and in fact needs to do more to bring prices down. As the journal article stated, they lowered prices on some items and then recently raised them on many others. When you compare Whole Foods pricing to other retailers, at least in the NY Metro area, there is still a significant difference on almost every item in most categories. I certainly realize that most other supermarkets do not carry as many organic items as Whole Foods, but Fairway and some others are getting closer, and the cost savings is often worth the trip.
  • Posted on: 01/28/2019

    Cloud and AI seen fueling digital transformation

    I've been talking about the benefits of utilizing multiple data sources since I had a full head of hair. Multiple data sources that include not only syndicated and POS data, but demographic and other internal data sets help to tell a much more insightful story that hopefully leads to actionable recommendations. As was stated by Microsoft's Global Retail Strategy Director, "the explosion of data has enabled retailers to combine sales data with data sets that include demographics, weather, economic indicators, social media and more “to quickly determine the impact of external influencers on specific categories, SKUs and stores.” Many companies have access to this data but have not been willing to do what it takes to bring them together. We have found that the ones that do, whether internally or with our help, reap the rewards. AI and the cloud will most definitely go a long way to streamlining this process, but it will most definitely not have an "Easy Button." It will still take planning and a push from senior leadership to drive it over the goal line.
  • Posted on: 01/25/2019

    How much inventory visibility do retailers need to give consumers?

    Why not provide complete and total visibility? There is nothing more frustrating for the shopper when the item they want to purchase is not available or, even worse, when a retailer makes it look like it is available. Trust is everything.

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