In the News

My Face is Not Your Business

“Facial recognition and biometric data is highly sensitive and personal, and Walmart is significantly over-reaching to use it for improving customer experience and reducing staff costs,” said Mark Ryski, CEO of HeadCount Corporation. “While I do believe there is great potential to use and apply biometric data (especially for security purposes), I am very concerned about how some retailers might use this data under the guise of ‘improving customer service.'” Read the article

Are Retailers Squandering Store Traffic?

Online, Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO) has become an industry onto itself, spawning a global community of consultants and service providers, formal methodologies and over a hundred books dedicated to the topic on Amazon.com alone. There is only one book on brick-and-mortar conversion listed on Amazon. Given the difficult business conditions so many are facing, it’s baffling that CRO hasn’t become an obsession with brick and mortar retailers. In today’s environment, retailers can ill afford to squander the sales opportunities. Stemming the tide of store traffic declines may be difficult if not impossible, but it doesn’t prevent retailers from focusing on the opportunities and applying CRO strategies. Read the article.

Hot 100 Retailers: Sustained Sizzle

Being a hot retailer doesn’t come easily, yet a handful of companies have managed to stay on the Hot 100 Retailers list every year since its inception a dozen years ago. Dick’s has managed to prevail despite adverse trends over the last few years that have claimed competitors and earlier this year caused Wall Street to lose some confidence in the once high-flying retailer. The company has also pared down store openings for the next two years. “Wall Street won’t necessarily like it, but Wall Street doesn’t seem to like negative comps either, and overbuilding stores is a sure way to get them,” says Mark Ryski, CEO of HeadCount Corporation.  Read the article 

Can Discounted Cosmetics Drive Department Store Traffic?

“Discounting to drive traffic is a slippery slope. While price discounting may produce a short-term sales lift (though likely at lower margins), it creates expectations with consumers that may be difficult or impossible to sustain, says Mark Ryski, Author, Founder & CEO of HeadCount Corporation. “While driving store traffic is critical, retailers need to focus more attention on converting the traffic that they do receive. Since many retailers still don’t track traffic or measure conversion rates in their stores, one has to wonder how many sales opportunities are missed because retailers don’t fully understand where and how many sales opportunities they are failing to convert. Before retailers start slashing prices, they should focus more attention on optimizing conversion rates in their stores.” Read the article.

Walmart’s Facial Recognition Tech Would Overstep Boundaries

A Walmart patent application filed in 2012 describes a system that would use facial recognition technology at the checkout to help store personnel determine if customers are unhappy and, if so, make contact to address any shopping-related problems. “Facial recognition and biometric data is highly sensitive and personal and Walmart is significantly over-reaching to use it for improving customer experience and reducing staff costs,” said Mark Ryski, CEO of HeadCount Corporation. “While I do believe there is great potential to use and apply biometric data (especially for security purposes), I am very concerned about how some retailers might use this data under the guise of ‘improving customer service.'” Read the article 

Why It’s Critical to Use Retail Traffic Counters

While formal industry penetration data on retail traffic counters are hard to come by, a quick stroll through any mall will reveal that more major retailers track traffic today than those who do not. Part of the reason that retail traffic counting is becoming so ubiquitous is because the insights have so much practical value across so many functional areas. If your chain doesn’t have retail traffic counters installed at the front door today, there’s a good chance it will, probably sooner rather than later. So, what can a simple traffic counter tell you that you don’t already know? A lot. Read the article.

QVC/HSN Could Enter The Arena With Amazon And Walmart.com

The deal bringing the two networks under one corporate umbrella will create the largest television home shopping company in the world as well as the third largest e-commerce company in North America behind Amazon.com and Walmart. But despite the size of the combined company, many on the RetailWire BrainTrust noted significant challenges in a field dominated by mammoth e-commerce players. “Younger consumers are cutting ties to TV and so the base of TV shoppers is declining. This will require significant changes to the way QVC has historically done business.”” said Mark Ryski, CEO of HeadCount Corporation. Read the article

Is Walmart’s New Last-mile Delivery Program Brilliant — or a Disaster in the Making?

As rival retailers ponder how to compete with Amazon’s robust delivery infrastructure and make the most of their store footprints, Walmart’s Uber-like program will have store associates delivering packages on their way home from work. Will it work for Walmart? “I’m not sure if it will ultimately be a game-changer, but full points to Walmart for thinking about the delivery challenge in a completely new way,” says Mark Ryski, Author & CEO of HeadCount Corporation. “Overall, I think this is a great example of how innovation doesn’t always need to be just about technology.”  Read the article.

What will happen to J.Crew without Mickey Drexler as CEO?

Mickey Drexle is stepping down as chief executive of the retailer, despite a reputation as among the greats in apparel retailing based on leading a turnaround of Gap and creating its successful Old Navy chain. “I applaud Mr. Drexler for admitting it was time for change and then taking himself out of the game,” says Mark Ryski, CEO of HeadCount Corporation. “Apparel seems to be one of the most disrupted categories and consequently one of the most challenging. Changing of the guard is net positive, but James Brett will have his hands very full trying to find a new, sustainable path for J.Crew”.  Read the article

Dick’s Wise To Play Long Game Despite Wall Street Pressure

In a decision that presumably defies the wishes of some of its investors, Dick’s Sporting Goods last week said it would “significantly” reduce new store openings in the years ahead in order to avoid paying more for rent then they would a few years from now. According to CEO Ed Stack, Wall Street doesn’t necessarily like the company’s patience and focus on the long term and not just the next quarter or two.  However, some experts on the RetailWire BrainTrust praised Dick’s Sporting Goods.  “Stack is right that Wall Street won’t necessarily like it, but Wall Street doesn’t like negative comps either and over-building stores is a sure way to get them.” said Mark Ryski CEO of HeadCount Corporation.   Read the article