PROFILE

Gary Sankary

Retail Industry Strategy, Esri

I am a 45 year veteran of the retail industry. My career started in the back room of my father’s shoe store. His advice to me when I went to college, “Don’t go into retail”.

After 27 years in executive leadership at Target, I now work for Esri. Here, I get to survey the retail industry holistically. I evangelize location intelligence and help retailers unlock the local insights the need to better engage customers, preform local market analysis and make key decision about store and facility optimization.

Everything in retail happens in a specific place for a reason. Location intelligence can help you understand that reason.

To learn more, visit: esri.com

  • VIEW ARTICLES
  • VIEW COMMENTS
  • Posted on: 01/15/2021

    NRF 2021: Retailers make an appointment with the future

    The value proposition here is the relationship between the level of customer interaction necessary to make the sale or provide the service and the benefits to the company to make this investment. For high end retail, as has been noted here by my colleagues, this makes sense. Many were already doing this. The pandemic has moved more customers to want use this option and I think retailers who are in the segment are delighted. If you would have told them two years ago that they would see an increase in customers who want to make appointments to come in and shop -- they'd have been all-in. I am interested to see what happens at the other end of the market - appointments to shop grocery or mass. This is all about managing crowds and giving customers a safer experience with less traffic in the stores. I don't have a good sense that these schemes have panned out well, mostly because in many places the demand just wasn't there.
  • Posted on: 01/15/2021

    Will paying associates to get COVID-19 vaccines work for Dollar General and Trader Joe’s?

    Vaccines are required for school attendance, hospital work -- this is a nice, employee friendly gesture but short of a real exemption from an actual physician due to a real medical issue, this should be a requirement of employment. Full disclosure, Mrs. Sankary is a school nurse -- as she says, "your massage therapist can not give you a vaccine exemption, sorry."
  • Posted on: 01/15/2021

    Will paying associates to get COVID-19 vaccines work for Dollar General and Trader Joe’s?

    There are already vaccine requirements in place for international travel. This is just one more vaccine to add to the list.
  • Posted on: 01/15/2021

    Will paying associates to get COVID-19 vaccines work for Dollar General and Trader Joe’s?

    I don't know that I agree that employees have a right to decline. I think it should be a condition of employment.
  • Posted on: 01/14/2021

    7-Elevens could be destined to undergo a konbinification

    I absolutely think there is an opportunity for 7-Eleven to open a higher-end concept in the United States. Case in point: years ago no one would have thought a chain of convenience stores that only sells high-end coffee would really work.... There has been a trend in the US Housing Market for a while now for more community focused, walkable neighborhoods. The demographics for these neighborhoods tend to index higher in incomes. These are expensive places to live. Because of that, a neighborhood store with high-turn convenience items makes sense. If they can add some high-demand services, maybe offerings for fresh food and more healthy choices, I honestly think this would be a hit. The key in this segment is making sure to continue ongoing investments in existing locations to keep them clean, fresh and relevant.
  • Posted on: 01/13/2021

    What leadership lessons have retailers learned during the pandemic?

    Where do you even start with this question? I feel like this has been a few years of intense, on the job management grad school squeezed into a few months. Since we are seeing an ever widening gap between retailers who are thriving and those who are struggling, it’s worth the time to try to understand what about the winning companies' leadership seems to be working and learn from them. From my perspective there are three areas that rise to the top:
    • Putting employees and customers first. From safe stores and commitment to health and well-being to engaging experiences. Companies like Target, Walmart and Best Buy, who from the beginning emphasized these commitments, were rewarded for their efforts.
    • Moving quickly to react to changes in the market. I believe that the top issue for companies is that they stood still and underestimated the impact and scope of the pandemic. It seemed to me like they felt that if they waited, this would pass and it would be business as usual. I think most have realized their mistake, I hope there is enough time to adjust.
    • Laser focus on your value proposition. Understanding what your customers want from you, what you do well for them, and executing a plan to continue to deliver that value promise to them in a business environment that’s completely changed.
    There’s probably a book to write, and no doubt one will be written about all this. These are the places I would start.
  • Posted on: 01/13/2021

    Walmart to deliver groceries to temp-controlled smart boxes at customers’ homes

    Long term, I absolutely believe that this technology will be adopted by consumers. This is still a test as the article points out. There are still logistical issues to address before this can scale. I think about the cost of the appliances that have to be installed. Who’s paying for those? If it’s the grocer the length of time it will take to make this get positive ROI is years. It also assumes that the customer is only using the boxes with their brand, what happens when you get a box from Walmart and they use it for a competitor or for personal use? I expect that long term consumers will end up paying for the box, and then get incentives from the grocers to use their service in some sort of subscription scheme. We’ll see. I do believe that we will figure this out, the value proposition is too strong to ignore.
  • Posted on: 01/13/2021

    Will contactless Hudson Nonstop concept stores take off in airports?

    I believe this will be a big hit in the U.S. The airport shopping experience is by nature “grab and go” and any concept that gets products consumers want into their hands faster and with less friction is going to be a hit. So much so that I would expect to see more of this in urban locations and areas with high pedestrian traffic.
  • Posted on: 01/12/2021

    Do sampled freebies drive loyalty?

    This reminds me of my college kids' favorite local grocery store. They were loyal shoppers -- on Wednesday only. That was "sample day." They and all their friends loved to pursue the aisles and try all the samples, and would walkout empty handed. As Dr. Needel has pointed out samples to test products or expose customers to something new is the right way to think about them. Loyalty? Not so much.
  • Posted on: 01/12/2021

    Convenience retailers aren’t letting the pandemic get them down

    I don't think the pandemic will have a demonstrative effect on this segment, good or bad. In urban markets, neighborhood proximities and walking distances will be key. In suburban and rural markets gas is critical to traffic. What I suspect we'll see for these stores are more grab and go options for food and beverages. Especially prepared food that's something better than hotdog rollers. Wawa has been a stellar example of this, and they're rewarded with outstanding loyalty.
  • Posted on: 01/12/2021

    Convenience retailers aren’t letting the pandemic get them down

    I 100 percent agree that localized shopping is a big plus for this segment. I suspect the growth will continue in urban markets where these stores are within walking distance. Once I get in a car then all bets are off - then I start thinking about consolidating trips, and one more stop at a convenience store to get something doesn't quite make the cut.
  • Posted on: 01/11/2021

    Retailers give customers refunds and tell them to keep items

    This makes sense from a customer service perspective and from an expense perspective. Good buyers negotiate allowances for returns (Not the same as accounting return allowance BTW) into their contracts so there's really no incentive to go through the logistics hassle of returning the items on low retail, low margin products. And, as noted here, customers love it. So much easier.
  • Posted on: 01/11/2021

    Did Amazon Pantry outlive its usefulness?

    Amazon Pantry was a bit clunky to use. Shoppers had to focus on filling the box, I suspect in many cases with stuff they may not have needed or wanted at that particular time. Consumers prefer to make purchases on their terms. Add in shipping costs, these days the metric is free shipping. With the rise of curbside there are lots of ways to get the same products, without fees, and in quantities and on the schedules consumers want. Basics especially are something that when you need it, you need it then, not a few days from now. I believe consumers lost interest jumping through all these hoops to make the service work. One note for retailers, adoption of subscription models for fulfillment of basics has not really come to mass yet. I think most consumers have not shown that they really like automatic shipping and payments. Retailers will need to do more to figure out a better replenishment model for individuals and some sort of seamless approve/not approve process for orders to move the needle on adoption.
  • Posted on: 01/07/2021

    Retailers call on Trump to end the national chaos he created

    Business has always advocated about issues that affect them; regulatory policies, tariffs, fair trade, employment policies -- it’s a long list. In the last year many business have also stepped up their advocacy of social justice as they have come to understand the impact of inequity on their customers and their employees. We know that these issues are good for our communities and good for business. This is no different, with one exception - the stakes are much higher.
  • Posted on: 01/07/2021

    Will meatless burgers moo-ve in on beef’s market share as prices fall?

    At best this is a niche market. I've enjoyed Impossible Burgers at fast-food places. It's a good product, I haven't been able to tell the difference. My motivation has to do with dietary restrictions around beef and cheese together, so this is a chance to enjoy some forbidden fruit - a cheese burger. For others it's about environmental concerns or a lifestyle choice. What I don't see is people trading up to this just because they want to try something new. Because of that I don't see changes having much impact overall to beef sales. If Impossible finds a way to lower prices even more and can position the product significantly lower than the market price for ground beef, that might be another discussion.

Contact Gary

  • Apply to be a BrainTrust Panelist

  • Please briefly describe your qualifications — specifically, your expertise and experience in the retail industry.
  • By submitting this form, I give you permission to forward my contact information to designated members of the RetailWire staff.

    See RetailWire's privacy policy for more information about what data we collect and how it is used.