PROFILE

Al McClain

CEO, Co-Founder, RetailWire

Al McClain is CEO and co-founder of RetailWire.com, the expert discussion community for the retailing community. He has spent 30+ years in the retail, tech, and CPG spaces. Al’s career highlights include management positions with Reily Foods, Bestfoods, Red Rose Tea, and Progressive Grocer (Trade Dimensions and Retail Insights divisions). He also co-founded IdeaBeat.com in 1997, a precursor to RetailWire.com.

Al has worked with many major tech companies and spoken at Shoptalk, the National Grocers Association convention, IIR’s Shopper Insights conference, the Magazine Publishers Association conference, the d2 Digital Dialogue conference, the Category Management Association conference, and Future Stores Miami. He has written for publications such as Nielsen Wire, Loyalty Management, Forbes.com, and RetailWire.com. He lives in South Florida.

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  • Posted on: 01/07/2021

    Retailers call on Trump to end the national chaos he created

    It doesn't matter whether you are Republican, Democrat, or something else, too many business leaders have been deferential and enabling to our bully-in-chief for far too long. When the 25th amendment is being talked about regularly by serious people, you know this is too much. It was clear when he ran how he would act, and it has gone downhill from there. Unfortunately, many individuals have said, "but my 401K is doing so well..." and many business leaders have decided to aid and abet Trump because they thought he was part of the reason their companies were doing well. I don't often agree with Lindsey Graham, but "Enough is enough. Count me out!" Business leaders need to continue to speak up, albeit tardily. PS: Fox, Twitter and Facebook should really look long and hard in the mirror and figure out if they want to be something besides conspiracy theory enablers when they grow up.
  • Posted on: 11/23/2020

    Will sports marketing become a victim of the pandemic?

    All of the above, in terms of reasons for the decline. Personally, sports haven't been enough of a distraction from the election chaos and tragedy of the pandemic. So, I either watch news to see what's happening, or get involved in some new series on Netflix, which provides a more complete distraction. Watching a game on TV, the distractions include artificial crowd noise, empty or near empty stands, and discussions of how many players have tested positive and which games are cancelled.. Shortened seasons and out of season leagues and events means all sports in the covid era will have asterisks attached to them. By next fall, things should be back to semi normal, I sure hope.
  • Posted on: 11/03/2020

    2020 creeps up on the RetailWire Christmas Commercial Challenge

    I'm not sure people have the patience for 90 second ads anymore. That aside, the Hobby Lobby ad would be good if these were normal times but they aren't. Ignoring the pandemic may work with a large portion of their customers but will alienate others, especially if the scientists are right and things worsen in the cold weather.
  • Posted on: 10/27/2020

    Chipotle battles escalating delivery costs

    I think it could be close to too late to reset consumer expectations on delivery charges. We're all used to free now and this is a deal breaker for some. I see some restaurants that charge for delivery offering free delivery about one out of every four weeks, so customers are trained to wait for the free week.
  • Posted on: 10/12/2020

    Should Yelp be calling out businesses accused of racist behavior?

    It's not perfect, but with the chaos we have in this country right now and the lack of federal leadership, racists and all sorts of other haters are out of the closet and feeling more empowered than ever. So, large businesses like Yelp, who have some capacity to help call out egregious behavior are taking matters into their own hands. It's better than nothing so good for them.
  • Posted on: 09/24/2020

    Will homes of the future include ‘Amazon Rooms’?

    I'm with you on this one, Georganne. I get the sanitizing thing, sort of, but you can always bring the items inside and stick them in a closet, garage, or storage room, and leave them for a few days, and then wash your hands. And, are we buying so much stuff now that we need special intake rooms? At what point do even the uber wealthy say "maybe we have enough stuff and really ought to cut back" when there is a pandemic along with societal upheaval and vast inequality? PS: It's not just Hollywood that isn't like the rest of us.
  • Posted on: 09/08/2020

    Has COVID-19 revealed pickup’s pain points?

    In general, my experience with curbside pickup has been very good. However, there are some places here in South Florida that will not do it. J. Alexander's, a chain restaurant, is one. They reverted from having a "pop it in the trunk" option early in the pandemic to only doing in-store pickup now. With restaurants open at 100% capacity, that's not an option for some. Another glitch in many systems is retailers and restaurants not knowing which order goes with which vehicle. That is easily fixed by having a field in the app or online to enter one's license plate number, or it can be confirmed upon arrival by phone. No fancy technology needed.
  • Posted on: 08/12/2020

    Should marketers keep masks out of commercials?

    Living in South Florida, and in a state with over 500,000 cases of the virus so far, it astounded me early on to see local commercials with no social distancing and no masks. The same for local newscasts. But, I guess I'm immune to it now. Ads that don't take into account the "new normal" still seem a bit odd to me, but everyone down here is exhausted, and there are a lot of people who are going to shop, dine in, frequent clubs, not socially distance, and try to go back to the "old normal", science be damned. So, I guess it depends which group of people you prefer to appeal to, because it's totally polarized, at least here.
  • Posted on: 08/03/2020

    Trader Joe’s says ‘never mind’ on private label name changes

    This decision may not stop many people from shopping there, but it's still an unforced error by a retailer that so many have respect for. As Bob said, it's better to slow down in the first place, then announce a reasoned decision. Better still to get rid of product names that are in the gray area of possibly making fun of groups and/or cultures, even if you just do it because it's the right thing to do.
  • Posted on: 07/01/2020

    Anti-mask shoppers find themselves publicly shamed

    Yet another way in which the US has handled the pandemic worse than any other country in the world. This is what happens in the absence of governmental leadership: we are all left to fend for ourselves, with predictable results.
  • Posted on: 06/22/2020

    Is Apple being too cautious?

    Unfortunately, here in Florida, I believe we re-opened too soon. By not following the 14 day decline rule in terms of positive tests, along with ignoring other federal guidelines, cases are now soaring. Younger people seem to be ignoring what state, city, and county guidelines we have been given (which are all over the place) and common sense as well. But, the cases are apparently less deadly. The big issue will be how much spread there will be to older people, which will be much more serious. Meanwhile, I'm afraid Apple's store closings could only be the beginning. One mayor this morning said Florida may have to close down again (not that it really did the first time).
  • Posted on: 06/18/2020

    Can a box of pancake mix be racist?

    The old Hemingway quote about bankruptcy happening "slowly then suddenly" seems to apply to the dizzying pace of change and awareness today. Many of these changes were long overdue, but our collective willingness to overlook huge issues slowed the pace.
  • Posted on: 06/05/2020

    The face mask rule is now simply a suggestion at some H-E-B stores

    Cathy, I think we're such an impatient society now that many states are relaxing their approach and opening up (with urging from the top) even though they shouldn't. Here in Florida, cases are steady to up (with an all time high daily number yesterday), and we're essentially at another peak now, a few weeks after things started reopening. But, the reopening continues unabated, with fits and starts, even in hot spots and counties. There have been many instances of businesses not enforcing social distancing and other rules. Texas cases have also been rising similarly. So, I think H-E-B is essentially throwing in the towel because they know a certain percentage of customers will react in a hostile manner to being told to wear masks, in the absence of better state and federal leadership and role models on the issue.
  • Posted on: 05/18/2020

    The new normal will look a lot like the old normal

    I sure don't see the part about valuing frontline workers happening. The majority of businesses seem to be opening as fast as local and state governments will allow, putting frontline, low paid workers at risk. And, customers in many areas are ignoring social distancing and not wearing masks while they shop. The new normal is indeed looking like the old normal. Frontline workers are undervalued and underpaid.
  • Posted on: 05/11/2020

    What should retailers do about social distancing renegades?

    It's just not reasonable to ask store associates to try to enforce these rules, when some customers are so confrontational, at risk to their health. The answer to me is to hire more security officers and make them more visible everywhere, but especially at entrances, to explain and enforce the new normal. And, have a good relationship with the local police department.

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