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: 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.
  • Posted on: 01/21/2019

    Did Gillette’s rant against toxic masculinity go too far?

    Quite frankly, I don't understand why this received so much negative backlash. This is the new reality and anyone that thinks it goes too far is not being realistic. Men acting badly happens every day - and we've become so jaded by it that unless it is pointed out, and on more of a regular basis it will not change. We have all had our moments, but in order to have the attitudes of men and in fact, for our sons to make a real change, we must continue to push this. Is the ad saying that all men are bad? No, but I don't think it goes too far either. Gillette decided to take a stand and a risky one at that, but over the long term, it is one that was the right thing to do.
  • Posted on: 01/16/2019

    NRF: Roving robots report for work at all Giant Foods’ stores

    We are at the very beginning of the curve with what robotics will be able to accomplish. We will look back at the first tasks like identifying spills and laugh. Once the out-of-stock issue is solved, including ordering, there will be many more assignments that make sense like helping shoppers find a certain item or asking the robot for suggestions on meal solutions and many more.
  • Posted on: 01/14/2019

    Whole Foods halts 365 concept’s growth

    I don't think it will make a significant difference in the long term. Whether it is a false perception, or just that we do use our Prime membership at checkout -- which provides additional discounts, my impression is that they have lowered prices. Would I like them to be lower? Yes, and I hope they do decide to go further across more products and categories to better compete with other well stocked stores that also carry a large selection of organic and "better for you" products and produce, such as Fairway Stores, especially their newest store in Chelsea. They should, however, continue to add 365 products in more categories. That should eliminate any gap that may be felt due to the decision to not go any further with the 365 Store concept.
  • Posted on: 01/11/2019

    Zola de-stresses the wedding planning experience for Millennials

    I've not been to the Zola pop up here in NYC but I have been all over the NYC area looking at wedding venues with my wife, daughter and future son-in-law as we now are in the process of planning their wedding and can attest to the fact that yes, it is very stressful. NYC is the most expensive place in the country for a wedding! I doubt that a serious wedding can be planned in one hour as photos or videos of the actual venue will not be enough to get the full picture. Some venues provide everything; tables, chairs, linens, silverware etc. and some are spaces where everything needs to be brought in and multiple vendors need to be contracted. It is a process with lots of moving parts. Having said that, perhaps Zola can eliminate some of the items on the list, and may work for a small wedding but I have my doubts that it can be the answer to wedding planning stress unless they also pick up the tab.
  • Posted on: 01/10/2019

    Why are Millennials apparently addicted to Chinese knockoffs?

    Millennials, my kids included, are generally very aware of social issues and especially those that end up hurting people. Certainly the manufacturing of knockoffs comes at a price that includes humans being compromised, so I don't think the majority of Millennials would knowingly purchase items that are knockoffs. The question becomes how do you tell when some of them are so well done that even experts find it hard to tell the difference? Price, that's how. If an NFL Jersey generally costs $100 and up, then how is it possible that the one being sold is priced at $25? Remember what your mom said, "If it's too good to be true..."
  • Posted on: 01/09/2019

    Should Dollar Tree sell Family Dollar?

    Walmart's small format stores + way too many Dollar Stores = an uphill battle that investors will most likely not have a stomach for.
  • Posted on: 01/08/2019

    The new boss is different than the old boss at Starbucks

    This remains to be seen. If Starbucks wanted the same thinking as they had under Schultz, then they should not have installed Mr. Johnson. The chain needs new thinking so I would wait and see what Johnson has in mind. Testing the new concepts on a smaller scale is not a bad idea and if they prove to be successful, they have not lost anything.
  • Posted on: 01/07/2019

    Retailers are shutting down their NYC flagships

    I wanted to add a few comments that my wife had to say about L&T as well: I think the bigger problem (based on my experiences) is that L&T’s online services are terrible! They pull items out of the stores instead of having a central warehouse. Often I would get an order confirmation, but have it cancelled a week later because the store sold the item. So if they are trying to reinvent themselves, they better get busy refining the e-commerce experience.
  • Posted on: 01/07/2019

    Retailers are shutting down their NYC flagships

    Lord & Taylor was a great store and there is nothing else like it in Manhattan, at least in its price range. It was a store that was civilized and so easy to shop compared to Macy's. The people on the floor were always so helpful. I really hated to see it go. There are other locations in and around the NY Metro area but this was THE store. I do think that closing a flagship store like L&T on Fifth Ave. should be considered as a last resort but how can you argue with the fact that the real estate was more valuable than the store itself, by far? Now it is just going to be another WeWork, big deal! I don't think they will have the nice helpful ladies in the jewelery department to help me pick out a nice present for my wife or daughter. People will no longer line up at Christmas to see the beautifully decorated windows. It is very sad.
  • Posted on: 01/03/2019

    Will smart shelves work for Hannaford and its customers?

    Providing the right content and the appropriate amount of content will be key if this is to be successful. My concern is will it be too much to navigate, both in the information being displayed, when most people want to make the trip as quickly as possible and will this technology make the aisles even more cluttered with shoppers and carts standing around while they read?
  • Posted on: 12/28/2018

    Are dollar stores bad for cities?

    If the past few years have taught us anything, it's that we are a nation of very different people, and we seek and buy according to what we like and can afford. If Dollar General stocked "good for you items" my guess is that they would not attract the demographic that tends to shop there.

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