Graeme McVie

VP & GM, Business Development, Precima

As Vice President and General Manager of Business Development for Precima, a leading retail analytics solution owned by LoyaltyOne, Graeme leads the customer-centric merchandising, marketing  and loyalty business development efforts across North America. Drawing on over two decades of consulting, Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) and analytics experience, Graeme has a proven track record of helping retailer and manufacturer clients drive improved sales and profits through insight-driven, customer-centric strategies and solutions.

Prior to joining LoyaltyOne in 2012, Graeme held the position of Senior Vice President of Sales at Symphony Analytics. In this role, he delivered pricing, sales and marketing strategies and SaaS solutions for many leading consumer packaged goods (CPG) manufacturers. Graeme has also assumed several other senior level roles including Senior Vice President at Applied Predictive Technologiesand Vice President, Strategic Alliances atDemandTec where he worked with a number of the largest retailers in North America. Graeme started his career as a consultant at Bain & Company, an industry leading strategy consulting firm.

An engaging speaker, Graeme regularly presents at industry events and has been featured in media outlets across North America. He received his M.Eng with distinction, in Engineering from the University of Strathclyde in Scotland.

  • Posted on: 02/23/2017

    Will dropping double coupons and senior discounts cost Kroger customers?

    With the rise in personalization, retailers should be looking at which promotions are most valuable to their most loyal customers. The products that are promoted and the depth of discounts should be tailored to specific customers who are, or could become, loyal to the retailer and who will value discounts on specific products. Offering a blanket discount to seniors will make sense if the retailer has analyzed their customer data and determined that those seniors are loyal, valuable customers and by offering them a discount they will secure a greater share of their spend or the longer-term loyalty of the customer. But in general I am not a fan of providing blanket discounts for a group of shoppers based on a simple metric -- of all retailers, Kroger is well placed to analyze their customer data and determine which customers would most welcome discounts, irrespective of age. Taking this type of approach will avoid wasting investments on customers who do not value the specific discounts being offered and allow Kroger to focus their finite investments on the specific customers and products that will most value the discounts.
  • Posted on: 02/02/2017

    Is omnichannel cannibalization retail’s biggest challenge?

    Retailers need to pursue omnichannel with as much enthusiasm as they can. Shopper needs have to be met wherever the shopper is shopping and retailers who do not realize this will soon be facing declining customer counts and sales. If sales are declining, retailers need to analyze the situation to determine why that is and address those root causes. If retailers are losing sales to online, they either need to develop a compelling e-commerce offering or they need to ask why it is that shoppers are not purchasing from their online store. In addition, retailers need to alter their thinking about the role of their stores. Stores will play a role in the omnichannel future -- it will, however, require retailers to correctly determine what that role is for their target customers.
  • Posted on: 02/01/2017

    How will online shopping transform the grocery business?

    Online shopping will have a major impact on the grocery business: Amazon Dash is showing how repeat purchases of routine items are being put on auto-pilot. Auto-replenishment could have a striking impact on the center of the store and lead it to shrink dramatically. The question is, what will grocers do with the space that becomes available when center store categories shrink? In some locations they will expand the fresh areas of the store, in others they will introduce more experience-based elements into their stores; some will use the space to fulfill online orders; some will simply reduce the size of their stores and move fulfillment of online orders to cheaper warehouse-like locations. The grocery store will not vanish completely as some shoppers will still want/need to go to the store for some purchases, but the size/layout of the stores and the prevalence of them will be impacted by online grocery shopping. We also have to remember that many shoppers only start thinking about the evening family meal during the day and they visit the store on the way home from work to purchase the elements required for the meal. While grocery delivery, click-and-collect or online ingredient companies can fulfill some of these needs it will be interesting to see if the short-term planning of some shoppers can be truly satisfied by any means other than by visiting a store. There are still a few areas that need to be addressed before grocery e-commerce can fulfill its potential and profitability is certainly a key issue. The expense of setting up a delivery system is high but it would be more expensive to simply lose sales to others who are satisfying shopper needs by providing an e-commerce offering. Click-and-collect is one solution and that option will appeal to a significant subset of online shoppers -- it also overcomes one of the major challenges with home delivery, namely the need to be at home when the delivery arrives. Grocers need to address the profitability issue with home delivery as a number of shoppers are going to want that as an e-commerce option. They will also need to ensure they overcome the inconvenience of having to stay at home by providing very narrow delivery windows at times when shoppers are more likely to be at home (e.g., in the evenings). Some grocery stores that provide home delivery are addressing this issue by differential pricing for different delivery times and delivery window lengths -- we will see more of these types of approaches. Other grocers are looking to provide more personalized offers to online shoppers in an attempt to capture a greater share of the shopper’s spend -- this drives up the sales per delivery and can have a very attractive impact on the profitability of a home delivery order.
  • Posted on: 10/20/2016

    Will Millennials abandon traditional grocers?

    It’s important to bear in mind that Millennials are not one large homogenous group — the cohort is made up of lots of subgroups with different needs. Retailers need to recognize this fact or they risk losing large segments of the age group as customers. A number of studies have shown that as Millennials move from being singles/couples in their early twenties to being families with babies or young kids in their early thirties their needs and wants change and become more closely aligned with previous generations at the young family life-stage. Retailers need to remember these changing behaviors under the Millennial umbrella in order to avoid the risk of throwing the baby out with the bath water when attempting to court Millennials. That being said, there are some characteristics that do appear to be prominent amongst Millennials. Unlike the Boomer generation, Millennials do not consume the majority of their media through three or four national TV channels or a few key newspapers. As a result, Millennials do not simply go to the stores that are solely advertised on TV or in print news. Retailers and manufacturers need to work harder to understand the needs of individual Millennials and deliver store and brand experiences that are aligned with those needs. There are indications that Millennials value authenticity and transparency; that they tend to value healthy or sustainable attributes and want better experiences rather than mere transactions as well as look for value in what they buy rather than cheap products or expensive glitzy brands for the sake of the brand. If retailers and manufacturers take the time to understand the needs of the individuals within this very large group and then deliver products, prices, promotions, personalized communications and improved store and web experiences, then there is a big prize waiting to be seized.
  • Posted on: 10/12/2016

    Is it time for retailers to stop the Thanksgiving madness?

    With the rise of holiday sales starting before Thanksgiving and the increase in e-commerce it feels like the importance of Thanksgiving/Black Friday sales has eroded to some degree. When you add in some of the stories of the unpleasant shopping experience to get some of the doorbuster sales it feels like retailers and shoppers alike are re-thinking their strategies and plans for Thanksgiving/Black Friday.   There are some stores and some shoppers who will still benefit from stores being open on Thanksgiving day, and each retailer will need to make their own decision based upon their own shoppers and competitive situation. But the benefit to workers from a day of rest in the middle of a crazy period of shopping activity could yield some healthy benefits for retailers while the downside of potentially losing sales is mitigated by e-commerce and the elongated holiday shopping season.
  • Posted on: 09/30/2016

    Will Zappos reap rewards from its new loyalty program?

    Most loyalty programs have two objectives: as a mechanism for identifying individual customers and as a way to differentially engage with and reward customers. Given that Zappos is an online retailer, they can already identify individual customers so their loyalty program is geared towards differentially engaging with and rewarding their most loyal customers. Their loyalty program design includes both hard and soft benefits and has a base reward plus a variable reward component. The base reward component (10 points for every dollar spent) allows them to include all customers and purchases in their reward program but they have kept the earn rate relatively low to keep the costs to a more manageable level. The tiering approach allows them to provide incentives for customers to repeat purchase and to engage with the brand through multiple devices and by writing reviews, which are an increasingly important aspect to online retailing.   The program looks to have been well thought out, but one of the keys to the success of the program will be how well Zappos analyzes their customer data and uses the insights to identify and reward their most loyal customers through hard and soft benefits and through the intelligent investment of variable rewards. They will also need to continually assess the program and make any necessary adjustments as customers begin to engage with the program.
  • Posted on: 08/30/2016

    How much loyalty do off-pricers have?

    To earn a customer’s loyalty it is essential to consistently understand and satisfy their needs better than the competition. There is a group of shoppers who have a primary need for lower prices on products that are perceived to be of higher value. If off-price retailers are going to compete on this basis alone then it would be challenging to earn a customer’s loyalty relative to the competition, who may have a similar undifferentiated offering. The fuller-priced retailers look to differentiate through their product selection, an enhanced shopping experience and better customer service. Some of the fuller-priced retailers look to build personal relationships between store associates and individual customers with the explicit intent to earn the loyalty of those customers through relationship building. If off-priced retailers want to earn the loyalty of their customers they will need to better understand the needs of their customers and ensure they’re satisfying them beyond the simple mechanism of lower prices.
  • Posted on: 08/18/2016

    Have consumers accepted dynamic pricing?

    Dynamic pricing can be more or less accepted by consumers depending on a few key factors: the product that is being priced, the price determination process, the competitive situation and the communication surrounding the dynamic price. Dynamic pricing has been part of our culture for years. Look at the theatre landscape — you don’t have to look far to find the half-price ticket booths in New York’s Times Square or London’s Leicester Square. Consumers have also become accustomed to paying different prices for plane tickets and hotel rooms and, as the study notes, tickets to sporting events. What all of these “products” have in common is limited inventory and high consumption – consumers understand that if they want to guarantee a seat then buying early is advantageous whereas leaving it to the last minute has some risk. Grocery retailing however does not typically have the same characteristics as a show on Broadway so dynamic pricing is a harder concept for consumers to accept but in other areas of retail consumers have become accustomed to it. The competitive situation can also drive retailers to consider employing dynamic pricing. One example comes from consumer electronics with Best Buy and Amazon matching each other as one or the other moves their pricing around during the holiday season. In some instances this can be understandable, especially if the only point of differentiation is price point. But in a large number of situations price is not the only or key decision criteria and retailers need to understand the price elasticity before making any decisions. The report also highlights another challenge. If the retailer sets the optimal price at the outset then the need for dynamic pricing diminishes. Unfortunately there are still too many instances of original prices being set using traditional, non-analytical approaches, which can lead to mismatches between supply and demand and encourage the use of dynamic pricing. Finally, it is imperative that retailers ensure they are not eroding consumer trust when they deploy dynamic pricing. If consumers feel that retailers are merely trying to extract extra cash from them then they will risk losing the consumer for good. UBER explained their surge pricing as a mechanism to encourage more drivers to come out which would have a benefit for consumers. Retailers should weigh the downside risks against the perceived upsides before pursuing a dynamic pricing approach — what is acceptable in some situations could have significant backlash in others.
  • Posted on: 08/05/2016

    When should brands go down market?

    Under Armour has clearly looked at the market and determined that if they want to continue to grow then they need to expand their reach to a broader swathe of the shopper population. Their challenge with this approach is to maintain the brand image as they look to reach beyond their core customer base. If they can successfully navigate this challenge then they will continue to grow with not only their current customer but newly acquired shoppers as well. However, if their core shopper feels Under Armour has abandoned their brand position in order to attract a “new crowd” then they could have some backlash and run the risk of loyal customer attrition. The way Under Armour executes will be key to their success with this next chapter and clearly they view the upside opportunity as outweighing the potential risks to their brand image.
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