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.

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  • Posted on: 05/17/2022

    Will Walmart’s career path strategy give it a recruiting advantage?

    Walmart has made some remarkable changes that I believe have the opportunity to make some significant and positive impacts for their team members. Over the last few years they've significantly increased the number of benefited employees in their stores, they've offered tuition reimbursement, they enrolled all of their store teams in Walmart+, and now they have an internal development program for their teams. All of this will help with retention and, I suspect, help to deter union organizing at Walmart. I hope the rest of retail is taking notice. Walmart is changing the HR game for their teams and they deserve credit for it.
  • Posted on: 05/11/2022

    ‘Babe’ star makes dramatic gesture over Starbucks’ upcharge for non-dairy milk

    I appreciate you doing the fieldwork on this!
  • Posted on: 05/11/2022

    ‘Babe’ star makes dramatic gesture over Starbucks’ upcharge for non-dairy milk

    Let me see if I understand it correctly - non-dairy milk costs more across the board than dairy based milk. Celebs, a group not usually constrained by personal budgets, want Starbucks to eat those costs so they can save a bit on their coffee choices. Feels like another fake cause from a bored celeb.
  • Posted on: 05/11/2022

    Would grocery delivery be a healthy addition to Apple’s business?

    This is such a departure from Apple's "core" business that I think it would be a mistake. When they've expanded to new businesses in the past they've been, more or less, complimentary to their existing business. This would be a big departure and I suspect a distraction.
  • Posted on: 05/10/2022

    Can Starbucks replicate the ‘third place’ in the metaverse?

    I agree with you Joel. It wasn't too long ago that Starbucks was in the media business, selling CDs and music online. The reasoning seemed sound -- coffee shops were a place where people listen to music. The caveat, while drinking coffee. That experiment didn't really work out for them. I also agree that they should try this and see where it develops. I just don't know how this extends to their value prop of providing coffee and snacks.
  • Posted on: 05/10/2022

    Wayfair’s earnings miss may portend trouble for fellow ‘disruptor’ brands

    Digitally native retailers are not immune to expanding faster than their business would support. Venture capital is not a substitute for revenue and I believe that's where many of these companies get into trouble. The need to build their business with sustainable results. Chasing future profits is not sustainable as many of these companies are being forced to learn.
  • Posted on: 05/10/2022

    Is inflation the true cause of recent supermarket closures?

    There are many, many factors in play in the grocery market that are affecting store performance. I don't believe that inflation is one of those factors, at the moment anyway. Since the pandemic started grocers, and many other retailers for that matter, have been working on optimizing their store and fulfillment center networks. They have seen changes in how their customers are interacting with their physical and digital channels. They're also having an extremely difficult time staffing stores. As they start to look at market performance more holistically they're finding opportunities to be more efficient. One of those tactics is streamlining stores. Walmart and Kroger turned in remarkable results through the pandemic. To think that inflation would all of a sudden cause them to close stores is missing the mark in my opinion.
  • Posted on: 05/09/2022

    Should grocery shoppers and delivery personnel be talking?

    The idea sounds good, but I do not think it's scalable. The two big issues for retailers around this space at the moment are 1.) driving down costs associated with the extra handling of products and 2.) finding the people to do the work. This would slow down the picking process significantly and add time and costs. I think a better approach is what I've seen many U.S. retailers do - allow customers to select alternative items for key products. This allows the picker to keep moving and the customer to get what they need.
  • Posted on: 05/09/2022

    Has Etsy been missing the boat with men?

    I think the question is answered by the data that clearly shows arts and crafts skews very heavily towards women. Michaels, Jo-Ann, and Hobby Lobby all understand this and heavily skew their marketing to women. Etsy is a great brand. I honestly think this might be an example of "don't mess with success." If they want to capture marketshare from men, they need to do the research about what sorts of items their targets would be interested in and, I think, create a new brand or sub-brand that could focus on do-it-yourself folks or hobbyists who participate in crafts like woodworking for example.
  • Posted on: 05/06/2022

    Will consumers go for Robomart and Unilever’s ‘new spin on the ice cream truck’?

    I love this idea of hailing the ice cream truck when ever I want it. If the economic model works out, I think this could be really popular.
  • Posted on: 05/06/2022

    Which personalization techniques work best?

    There's a very fine line here between privacy and personalization. Marketers need to be very careful about how they exploit this data today. Aside from alienating a certain number of customers who don't like being tracked, these activities are being closely monitored by advocacy groups who have had success in Europe and California getting legislation enacted to put limits on what marketers can do. I see this trend getting stronger. The best approach in my opinion is to soft pedal the marketing and try to develop a more consultative and engaging relationship with the consumer based on relevant content and value beyond the traditional "see a behavior - send an offer" schemes.
  • Posted on: 05/06/2022

    Which personalization techniques work best?

    I'm with you. Another factor that marketers underestimate, in my opinion, is the creep factor. I don't like getting unsolicited offers about items based on predicted behavior. When I see those I find myself making a beeline to the "unsubscribe" button.
  • Posted on: 05/05/2022

    Macy’s goes small outside the mall

    I have to give Macy's credit for coming up with new ideas. It does bode well, in my mind, that they're serious about finding a new path to success. That said I'm not certain that this move is going to make a difference. If Macy's is going to simply take their mall based assortments and promotional strategies and move them to Main Street, this will fail. There's a bigger problem about relevancy that needs to be addressed - from product mix to store design to digital transformation. This move might help one of those issues but, long term, without the bigger changes the department store needs to make, it's just another store front that shoppers will pass by on the way to more popular outlets.
  • Posted on: 05/05/2022

    How should retail companies best navigate the abortion controversy?

    Retailers' top priority should be the health and well being of their employees. They should support their team members' privacy and provide them with the resources they need to make their own choices about health care. Including, helping them escape states that are imposing restrictions on women, children, and parents. I also believe they need to advocate for their vulnerable team members in the jurisdictions where they do business. Company values matter. We've said so about environmental issues, labor practices, discrimination based on race -- but to stop this support at gender issues is not only disingenuous, it sends a terrible message to half of their workforce and customers.
  • Posted on: 05/04/2022

    Will ‘shrinkflation’ grow into a big problem for CPG brands?

    Really well said Paula. Creating supply chain issues and inventing crises makes a nice cover for boosting profits. See the gasoline market.

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