PROFILE

David Leibowitz

Worldwide Director, Industry Strategy, Microsoft

David has worked in the shoes of retail, having held senior leadership positions or consulting to many well known global fashion and footwear brands. He has incubated new market (product & services) offerings across CPG and enterprise technology and education. He has also launched award winning software in use by retail/CPG, K12 / Hi-Ed and Finance industries.

Currently with Microsoft, David helps organizations globally drive the reinvention of cross-industry experiences.

You can find him writing at: medium.com/@dleib

Postings are solely the opinion of the author and the author reserves the right to be wrong in many cases.

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  • Posted on: 07/13/2020

    Starbucks becomes latest retailer to make masks mandatory

    RILA is absolutely correct that enforcement should not rest on the shoulders of private industry. As more states make PPE a requirement, it will become moot and no longer a burden for retail or other establishments to bear the brunt of confrontation.
  • Posted on: 07/09/2020

    How blemished are beauty retailers by COVID-19?

    This is the time to reinvent and reimagine the customer engagement experience. I'm seeing retailers shift quickly to tele-consult in many areas, and beauty is a natural fit. Boots UK is a large retailer of cosmetics and recently launched cosmetic virtual consultations. That provides for one-to-one appointment-based personalization, and allows for employees with expertise to engage wherever they are (from the home, the back office, or the cosmetics counter if they aren't helping someone in-store). It's a new day. Meet the customer where they are and reinvent.
  • Posted on: 07/06/2020

    Walmart debuts virtual summer camp and drive-in movie programs

    This is pretty clever and a smart move for Walmart. Drive-in movies solves for pent up demand by families to get out of the house, eases concerns about watching movies in enclosed theaters, and helps the motion picture industry if they screen new releases. And ... They just broke the fourth wall and solved for earning revenue from the parking lot.
  • Posted on: 06/30/2020

    Lululemon moves into in-home fitness with $500M deal for Mirror

    Maybe? But I can't help thinking of Bowflex. Those arrived at a similar price point years ago and essentially became extra spots to hang clothes instead of pumping iron. $1,500 is a steep hurdle, especially when the market is saturated with "certified trainers." Especially on YouTube. On top of the $40/month fee? They need to take a cue from other OEMs and drop the initial hardware cost and focus on the subscription or supplemental consumables. There are other health and wellness partnerships I like a lot more: UnderArmour's acquisition of MapMyRun/MapMyFitness app and Asics' RunKeeper. Lower tech investment, no hardware required, they're plugged into an ecosystem of IoT partners (Garmin, Fitbit, Apple, etc) and a natural fit for their brands.
  • Posted on: 06/25/2020

    Will Americans keep snacking at higher levels post-lockdown?

    PepsiCo certainly thinks so. They launched two DTC channels last month which I covered here (one is called Snacks.com): Comfort food is an easy go-to category - but I'm seeing the opposite. Consider the hockey stick increase in sales for sports equipment and related products - people are working out more. That's also the reason why you now have to wait in line for 30 days if you want a quality bike. Similarly there has been an uptick in the fresh category at grocery. People are eating meals with healthy fruits and vegetables. And those crock pots and bread and pasta machines flying off the shelves? That's so families can prepare foods with ingredients they know. If anything, I see more healthy lifestyle changes.
  • Posted on: 06/23/2020

    Would Amazon and Google benefit from publishing fake consumer reviews?

    If they publish AND call out the fake reviews, then the practice stands to nurture trust in the platform by consumers. Even if they don't catch all of the offending commentary, a demonstrable effort should appeal to shoppers who may regard reviews with healthy skepticism. It's a little easier to fake Yelp reviews - anyone can post a poor (or glowing) restaurant critique. What I'd like to see more of is "validated purchase" reviews where only those who have actually bought and PAID for the product are featured.
  • Posted on: 06/18/2020

    The pandemic has changed retailing, maybe forever

    The challenge for many retailers is that budgets did not increase over the last quarter. They are looking to find ways to adapt, but by doing so with a blend of existing technology assets and new ones. A wholesale uplift of tech will take too long and isn't cost efficient. This is paramount: supply chain visibility from raw material to the last mile, product availability (accuracy), customer self-service and order status notifications, and shopper convenience (deliver anywhere). I see a mix of IoT and in-store assets being required to make this a reality -- to improve business visibility and monitoring and to enable front line workers to respond to customer needs (click and collect, ship from DC, ship from retail store). Some of this won't be built/bought. Instead, it will come through ecosystem partnerships with third-party logistics providers or other logistics companies so retailers can build this muscle without costly investment.
  • Posted on: 06/16/2020

    Will personalization work for produce?

    Let's do the math.. That equates to $1.99 per ounce. Walmart today has Kale for 21 cents per ounce, and private label Organic Kale at 24.8 cents per ounce. This appears to be a luxury that isn't timed to current market conditions where consumers desire essentials at reasonable prices. Sustainability is still important, but economical family meals are more paramount right now.
  • Posted on: 06/16/2020

    Will grocers maintain COVID share gains as restaurants reopen?

    Yes, many recent changes to grocery shopping habits will stick. Stores and restaurants will reopen, but with reduced occupancy levels which will vary by state and local mandate. And then there's the general anxiety about going out that will need to ease. That's not going to happen soon. Ordering delivery or take-out to eat at home will still be on the rise, but within reason. Most cannot afford to pay restaurant prices for meals five days a week, so that will remain a splurge. Meal kits? No so much. There was plenty of churn in that category. People want fresh, and they want it now. Consider that Instacart exploded from 180,000 to 500,000 personal shoppers during the pandemic. And now with work-from-home or shelter-in-place orders, families can trade commuting time for attention devoted to preparing economical meals at home.
  • Posted on: 06/11/2020

    Can experiential retail go live and online?

    I'm a big believer in the promise of experiential engagement. Previous barriers to entry have been cost and technology. Now, you no longer need a cable network to reach an audience, and anyone with a decent video rig can get started. Of course, a brand still needs engaging content and great product. But I recently wondered in an opinion piece called "The Crisis Handed You a Captive Audience" about how bricks and mortar might be able to reinvent. Some examples: ★ Home furnishings & department stores: Showrooms are closed, but that doesn’t mean you can’t dress up a room and host a themed show. In fact, each department has the makings of a high production quality set. ★ Home goods: These brands might consider cooking classes online, similar to the way retailer Sur La Table was providing in-store. ★ Pet food brands: Pet care, grooming and daily activities to keep Fido occupied and less anxious when the dog park is closed? Diet and supplemental nutrition for your pet might also do well. ★ Home improvement retailers and tools manufacturers: How about converting age-old “honey do” projects to those that can be completed as a family during quarantine? ★ Beauty/Cosmetics: DIYs, How To’s, tips and tricks — but focused on the shelter-in-place crowd now spending time on social media and Zoom or Teams conference calls. The possibilities are endless.
  • Posted on: 06/10/2020

    Will Americans keep looking for new e-tail sites as stores reopen?

    Two words: Guaranteed delivery. E-commerce was mostly playing catch-up to Amazon's Subscribe & Save service. To drive stickiness, retailers and brands need to offer recurring subscriptions that stock the pantry, home office, cosmetics drawer and more. This will ease the anxiety that consumers have about the potential lack of inventory for in-store trips while at the same time ensuring a CPG can directly connect with the consumer (and better forecast demand). It's debatable as to whether a retailer even needs to offer a discount for recurring subscription programs. If they can just guarantee delivery of common goods, they earn the right to store my credit card.
  • Posted on: 06/09/2020

    Will COVID-19 quicken drone delivery’s flight to retail?

    The FAA has eased restrictions, which has certainly greased the skids. But drone operators are still in "pilot" mode. Packages are limited to about five pounds for consumer shipments and the flying distance is rather short. They also nearly all still require human eyes or hands for escort. That CVS delivery in Florida is not as pictured in the glossy video promo reel above. Instead, packages are dropped to a central location, and then picked up by UPS van for local doorstep delivery. The Amazon Scout deliveries in Washington also require a human chaperone. No doubt the moment has come for drones and they are needed for the future of contactless delivery experiences, but they have a way to go.
  • Posted on: 06/08/2020

    Gap to ‘mothball’ unsold inventory until next year

    If the economics of storing inventory outweigh the loss from markdown, then this is good business sense. Retailers just need to be careful that the holdbacks are still seasonally relevant next year. They don't want to be holding the equivalent of yesteryear's bellbottom pants. Well, unless you plan on holding a vintage sale.
  • Posted on: 06/04/2020

    Will retailers pass along or eat COVID-19 shipping surcharges?

    Prices will unfortunately be going up. The USDA expects beef and poultry prices to increase 1 percent to 2 percent this year, and pork up to 3 percent due to disruption in supply chains. While there may be some relief to businesses from stimulus packages, the costs may ultimately be a consumer burden, which will cause further belt-tightening and more intentional purchasing.
  • Posted on: 06/03/2020

    Lowe’s ‘virtually’ goes on the job for home improvement pros

    Yes! The age of the virtual consultation is here, and it's not just for telehealth. Watch this space for virtual advisory and recommendation across home goods, cosmetics and more!

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