Mark Price

Chief Data Officer, CaringBridge

Mark Price is Solution Partner for Smart Data Solutions for ThreeBridge, a national technology consulting firm.  Prior to joining ThreeBridge in October of 2018, Mark was founder and managing partner and founder of LiftPoint Consulting Group, which he led for over 16 years.  He is a frequent speaker at conferences as an expert on data-driven marketing and authors articles on the same topic. Mark blogs regularly.  He is responsible for thought leadership, leading client engagements and solution development for ThreeBridge.

Prior to founding LiftPoint Consulting in 2002, Mark was the Practice Leader for Zamba Solutions, focusing on data warehousing, marketing automation and data mining. Mark’s business experience also includes brand management at General Mills and Ralston Purina.

Mark has an MBA from the Darden School of the University of Virginia and a BA from Haverford College. He lives in Eden Prairie, Minn., with his wife,  poodle and Great Dane.

  • Posted on: 07/27/2022

    Can Walmart roll back inflation?

    The fact that Walmart has been successful at moving merchandise at lower prices suggests the consumers have not pulled back on their spending activity, but are significantly more price sensitive. That speaks well for the retail industry as a whole, although it is clear that price declines will be necessary in order to convince consumers to make purchases. Traditionally there is a segment that is highly priced sensitive; the data here suggests that the segment is expanding into a larger group of consumers who make purchases at regular to slightly discounted prices, which tends to be the largest group of consumers for most retailers. Engaging that large segment will be critical to any mainstream retailer's success.
  • Posted on: 07/26/2022

    Will Target’s ‘stores-as-hubs’ strategy get turbocharged by sortation centers?

    This strategy makes perfect sense from both an operational and customer experience perspective. Operationally, these centers can take advantage of robotics and economies of scale to drive down the cost, increase the throughput and the accuracy of orders to be mailed. On the customer experience side, this frees up staff to be available to meet customer needs in store, rather than have them spend time processing orders, which is not what they were originally trained for in the first place, either. I anticipate significant expansion of this approach across the markets where the majority of e-commerce orders are processed by the stores currently.
  • Posted on: 06/30/2022

    Will consumers become even more frugal post-pandemic?

    Regardless of how consumers prefer to be named, past behavior suggests that a large consumer segment tends to have a very short memory. For better or worse, consumers tend to react strongly to short-term indicators such as gas prices by either increasing or decreasing their travel and discretionary spending. Rising prices lead to pull-back, but when gas pricing reverts to close to what is considered normal, the rest of consumer spending goes back as well.
  • Posted on: 06/28/2022

    Retailers tell their customers to keep their returns

    Retailers should adopt a "don't return" policy, but very carefully. Such a policy could easily be gamed, costing the retailer significant incremental revenue. One example might be two friends, who want the same time in different sizes. If one calls in a return and gets the item for free, the other would benefit, of course. Returns are driven by (1) wrong size, (2) looks different in person, (3) product defect, (4) found a better price elsewhere, and other reasons. Size and product looks different can be addressed through more detailed on-line purchase information. Product defect is simply a cost of doing business and is best addressed by permitting the customer to donate the time. Pricing issues can be addressed through price matching, up to a point. Retailers must identify which issues are driving their returns and then prioritize the solutions accordingly.
  • Posted on: 06/27/2022

    Are mall shoppers hungry for in-stock data?

    The need to understand available inventory of a particular item is essential to the fundamental promise of physical retail -- same-day purchase of a desired item. While online retailers are working through same-day delivery, the supply chain issues remain substantial. Retail offers consumers the ability to touch and try on items, but only if those items are in stock in the right size. Consumers can verify that information through Simon's tool. However the ability to reserve items is a critical part of the value proposition and should not be discounted.
  • Posted on: 06/01/2022

    New members re-up at Costco in record numbers

    Costco is making all the right moves at this challenging time. Consumer behavior is reflecting uncertainty about supply chain and inflation, leading consumers to take advantage of Costco to stock up on a broad range of categories in one single place. The increase of inventories at Costco further reinforces the position that Costco can be the one-stop shop to address a broad range of consumer purchasing needs in packaged goods, hard goods and beyond. The decision not to raise membership fees is inspired - how better to reinforce that Costco is one of the best defenses against inflation out there?
  • Posted on: 05/31/2022

    Why are retailers struggling so hard to balance inventory?

    It is important to recognize that the increase in inventory is compared to last year when supply chain and pandemic issues dramatically reduced available inventory. As a result the change may not be as great as it appears. In addition, retailers purchased additional safety stock in order not to be caught shorthanded and to lock in prices in an environment where their costs may significantly increase due to gas prices and other factors.
  • Posted on: 05/02/2022

    Victoria’s Secret expects to have a beautiful experience on Amazon

    Selling through Amazon, in a short term, does provide more benefit than risk for Amazon. This is a good way to build critical mass for a growing product line. Note however that Amazon restricts the amount of customer information that a company like Victoria's Secret can obtain from the transaction, making it difficult for the company to conduct cross sell or loyalty efforts that are not within the Amazon framework. As a result, while marketing through Amazon is a great strategy to build volume, eventually Victoria's Secret will need to work directly with customers to reinforce the relationship across the product lines.
  • Posted on: 04/08/2022

    What’s the path to becoming a retail industry thought leader?

    Real world experience, either consulting deeply within a retailer or working for that retailer themselves, brings a level of credibility to thought leadership. That time can be supplemented by interviews, market research and generally walking through multiple retail environments in multiple markets on low and high traffic days, and observing consumer and associate behavior. That real world focus often leads to insights that a more academic perspective might lack.
  • Posted on: 04/06/2022

    What are the hurdles to becoming data-driven?

    In my experience, I have clearly seen that the biggest challenge to becoming data driven is change management. The implications of moving to a data driven management approach include data transparency and democratization, which highlights successes and failures in incontrovertible ways. If the culture is not built to be excepting of failure as well as success, then moving to a data driven approach is perceived as very risky. The greatest success has come with strong management support of the "new way," clear definable metrics for success of the initiative and lots of small wins that begin to build momentum. A hands-on approach by the analytics team, focusing on the business problems and analytic approaches to help business managers take action, help to add more steam to the data-driven business "engine."
  • Posted on: 03/14/2022

    Lululemon joins the footwear race with new running shoes

    While many of the popular athletic retailers have struggled to watch their own footwear brands, none of them have the fanatic following and strong brand loyalty of Lululemon. Assuming that the products are high-quality and consistent with the brand look and feel, I would anticipate that the company will have success with this offering as well. Think SoulCycle more than Dick's in terms of customer engagement and passion.
  • Posted on: 03/11/2022

    Albertsons puts its digital transformation on the fast track

    To determine whether to build, buy or partner for retailers is a multifaceted question. In general, partnering will be the fastest to market, but has the downside that the retailer is dependent on the partner's service level and there may be restrictions to accessing customer data. Buying technology eliminates the service and ownership issues, but may require extensive modifications to pre-existing processes and formats of the technology that is purchased. If the underlying processes are too substantially different from the retailer's, the buy decision could end up actually taking longer and costing more than building from scratch. I agree with Albertsons that building custom applications should be used when the process itself is highly custom. There is in fact a middle road. We have often found the purchasing and configuring components rather than purchasing entire software applications allows us the flexibility to mix-and-match and gain the benefits of buying with the flexibility and customization of building your own.
  • Posted on: 03/09/2022

    Will inflation be positive or negative for off-pricers?

    Certain inflationary pressures, such as the dramatically increase in price of gasoline, or the change in the price of staple goods at the grocery store, tend to trigger consumers to become more conservative with their spending. That will lead certain segments of consumers to postpone or forgo purchases and others to seek out discount brands. However, inflation will be most strongly felt in staple items, where private label products have been available for a long time -- the immediate trade-off across other categories is more uncertain. I believe that the Ukrainian war will play an even bigger role in the short term in driving consumer uncertainty than short term inflation pressures. The impact of that uncertainty will be for consumers to postpone high ticket item purchases.
  • Posted on: 02/11/2022

    Smarter barcodes are coming to a store near you

    Given consumer demand for accurate, real-time data on their orders, this technology has the capability to meet those needs. At the same time, the advanced supply chain analytics will help to reduce stockouts, theft, and product confusion that retailers often face despite using their current information to the best of their abilities. The ability to use these barcodes for improved customer experience in terms of loyalty programs and customer care can provide the additional foundation to improve customer engagement at the ground level and trust.
  • Posted on: 02/08/2022

    Past purchases are no indication of current or future brand loyalty

    I am not sure that habitual purchases have ever been a reliable indicator of brand loyalty. Retailers are now suffering the consequences of years of treating customers like they were simply transactions, not people with specific needs that could be addressed on an individual or group basis. After treating customers like they are generics, retailer should not be surprised that the customers are treating them the same. The key to building real loyalty is to provide consumers with a sense that they matter as individuals, that they would be missed if they were not there, and that the company can provide them with specific resources and products to address their specific needs.

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