In the News

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

Has North Face Reached a Summit in Consumer Segmentation?

To enhance segmentation efforts, The North Face last year introduced a new “consumer territory model” strategy to define the many ways consumers are experiencing its brand. RetailWire BrainTrust Experts offered advice to lifestyle brands and retailers working with customer segmentation approaches, citing common missteps in such schemes. “Occasionally brands get so carried away with brand stuff that they lose sight of executing in a way that delivers meaningful business results,” says Mark Ryski, CEO & Founder of HeadCount Corporation.  Read the article

Outlet Malls Are On A Roll, But It Can’t Last

While obituaries are regularly being written about traditional malls, outlet malls by all indications are thriving. According to a March 21 report in The Wall Street Journal, “Surprise: Outlet Malls Are Hot,” the venues are still seeing high levels of occupancy and income gains. Over the last five years, sales at outlet malls have doubled to about $50 billion, according to Green Street Advisors. “Outlets are not immune to the challenges of traditional malls, however, they do enjoy a slight advantage,” said Mark Ryski, CEO of HeadCount Corporation. Read the article

Why Are JCPenney-Sephora Stores-Within-Stores Successful?

Store-within-a-store partnerships are designed to be a “win-win” for both brands, but they can be tricky to execute well in the real world of retailing.  The numerous possible pitfalls in such relationships makes the success of the JCPenney-Sephora partnership, which began in 2006, all the more remarkable. “This is a classic example of ‘cool by association'”, says Mark Ryski CEO & Founder of HeadCount Corporation. “The only caution for Sephora is that a close affiliation with JCPenney could hurt their image — as cool as Sephora makes JCPenney, the flip side is that JCPenney may make Sephora seem less cool,” he says. Read article

Using 3D Sensor Technology for Retail Store Traffic Analytics

For retail stores that utilize camera-based traffic and conversion programs, the key to a successful program is acquiring data that can be trusted and is accurate. HeadCount Corporation, a company that specializes in traffic counting and optimizing data, believes that without confidence in the data, managers will question the traffic counts instead of applying the insights to improve performance. Read the article