PROFILE

Mark Price

Managing Partner, Smart Data Solutions, ThreeBridge

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.

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  • Posted on: 09/24/2020

    A successful diversity initiative led to an unintended consequence at Walmart

    I often speak to clients about the law of unexpected consequences -- "there are ALWAYS unexpected consequences." No matter how committed an organization is, change is bumpy, uneven and not always moving forward. But if an organization stays true to their mission and values, progress will be made nonetheless. The unexpected consequences that come from increased transparency is feedback and engagement -- both positive and negative. The benefits of increasing diversity are numerous -- with one of the greatest being bringing diversity of thought and perspectives. Something is always lost when a company does not look like their customers. Insight from a more diverse workforce will pay for years to come....
  • Posted on: 09/23/2020

    Will lockers help Lowe’s pick up more sales?

    The sharp increase in pickup orders have strained customer service in many retailers and led to long lines waiting for pickup. Lockers are a definite way to improve that experience by eliminating lines. More and more retailers will be adopting this approach for non-perishable smaller items. Pickup on demand, 24/7 appeals to convenience customers -- which is almost everyone these days!
  • Posted on: 09/22/2020

    Grocers are primed to compete with Amazon’s free grocery delivery

    Amazon currently has a limited number of dark locations and a small retail store footprint, compared to traditional grocers. To compete, grocers must build a multi-channel relationship with the customer segment that is most willing to shop online during the pandemic, and strengthen that relationship while the grocer still has a footprint advantage -- which means more two-hour delivery, more prepared foods and building a personal relationship with the customer.
  • Posted on: 09/21/2020

    Will 2020 be the year the holiday selling season changed forever?

    With consumer trends this year even more heavily digital than previously, the Prime event and the other October events will indeed serve to push holiday sales earlier than ever before. The balancing effect will come from additional consumer uncertainty about financial resources and the economy in general prior to the election and prior to the weeks immediately preceding Christmas. As a result, I believe that the holiday season will be highly bimodal, with an increased percentage of sales coming in October, a sharp dip in November and then a pick up in December among consumers who discover that they have sufficient resources to make their purchases for Christmas.
  • Posted on: 09/09/2020

    Which COVID-19 consumer habits will stick?

    If you reflect back on how the pandemic of 1918 and the Great Depression changed the behavior of a generation, it would not seem unlikely that consumer behavior changed in 2020 will largely remain in that pattern for years to come. Consumers have discovered grocery shopping online in a way that never occurred before 2020, and restaurants have improved your ability to handle expanded take-out requirements as well. More fundamentally, many consumers are dealing with job and food insecurity, and I believe the lessons from that will extend many years to come. A higher savings rate and a reluctance to take on debt will be some of the hallmarks going forward.
  • Posted on: 09/03/2020

    Is Whole Foods’ e-grocery business headed down a dark path?

    Amazon developing dark stores for grocery should forecast a significant change in the grocery business. And increasing number of consumers during this pandemic are choosing to have groceries delivered rather than going to the store and facing risk themselves. A dark store allows for more inventory and reduced staffing compared to traditional stores, and in a business with razor-thin margins like grocery this can make a significant difference. I believe that grocery delivery has "jumped the shark" during the pandemic and many consumers will continue to order online, as they do with most other products. Grocers must be ready to optimize to this challenge in order to be able to succeed.
  • Posted on: 09/01/2020

    Will the late Prime Day sabotage or catapult holiday spending?

    In a normal year, we could discuss whether or not Amazon would be able to actually shift the holiday season forward with the sheer magnitude of their reach and the loyalty of their Prime customers. This year, I think the greatest factor will be whether or not Congress passes the extra financial support legislation, and when. If an extra $600 per week appears in consumers' accounts, then I do think Amazon will drive the season earlier. If not, then I think that consumers will hang on and wait for better deals and for the money to arrive.
  • Posted on: 08/04/2020

    Is now a good time to launch a retail startup?

    There are many advantages to starting a business during the pandemic. First of all, things will never again be as difficult as they are right now, so a company can look forward to a positive upswing in their business as vaccines start to become available. The other advantages mentioned in the article include opportunities to lock in low cost rent and to secure staff resources at at a favorable rate. In addition, consumers are hyper aware of which companies message in a way that is consistent with their lived experience during the pandemic, and a start up has the ability to tune their message more tightly than an existing company, given the lack of fixed and sunk capital. For a startup to succeed today, not only must the brand and the products be finally tuned to specific segments of consumer needs, but the company must operate on a lean and agile approach, pivoting based on consumer feedback in terms of transactions and social input. As someone who started a company during the .com bust of 2002, I see the current time as a tremendous opportunity for the right type of entrepreneurs with the right set of products.
  • Posted on: 07/30/2020

    Is a drive-through-only store the shape of things to come for Wawa?

    Curbside pickup works well for planned purchases, such as groceries or even Starbucks coffee. For impulse purchases which are the most common convenience store transactions, a drive-through will provide a much simpler way for customers to fill their short-term needs. In addition, drive-through is likely to attract a segment of customers who did not want to go into the store, either for health-related reasons or because of a perceived amount of time for the transaction.
  • Posted on: 07/28/2020

    Has retail adaptation become more about survival than competitive edge?

    While some of my clients in retail are focused on survival, expecting that 2021 will return to a semblance of normal, other clients have focused on improving their customer engagement through digital channels and optimizing their e-commerce experience. From a financial perspective, in retail, this is clearly a time for survival yet at the same time e-commerce is expanding dramatically, with customers changing their behavior in a way that may become permanent in the long run. I do not believe that life and retailing will go back to the pre-pandemic normal again; consumers have learned to optimize their shopping experiences without having to walk into a store or with highly limited store engagement. The best retailers will succeed by building a strong base of customer relationships digitally and then finding through test and learn the best ways to engage on an individual customer level.
  • Posted on: 07/06/2020

    Has COVID-19 exacerbated online return challenges?

    The battle for e-commerce success in the COVID-19 era will be one of supply chain and logistics. The focus for customer experience for many years has been on generating sales, which of course is essential. Now we have a second level of customer experience challenges, managing returns and inventory management in a cycle where mailed returns are growing exponentially. The need to both successfully manage the flow of goods to and from the customer and to keep the customer in the loop at the same time is non-trivial. I believe that the challenges of growing returns may provide the business case for widespread use of RFID chips on products, so that they can be instantly identified and checked throughout the supply chain. Automated emails to customers based on RFID triggers will improve experience at the same time. Not a cheap effort but very much overdue.
  • Posted on: 07/01/2020

    How can grocers hold onto their new most valuable customers?

    Traditionally, grocers have been able to track customer behavior using their loyalty programs. It is critical that the loyalty program information be used even when a third-party is doing the shopping (such as Instacart). Otherwise the grocery store will lose track of customer behavior and be unable to calculate value and take activities to increased cross-sell and retention. It is very clear that consumers have gotten much of their trepidation about shopping for groceries online during the pandemic. It is unclear whether or not this behavior will continue as the pandemic abates in 2021. Grocers must be proactive in engaging their customers in order to sustain that behavior.
  • Posted on: 06/29/2020

    Does Microsoft need stores?

    Microsoft retail stores were more of a distraction than they were a benefit to the organization. Some consumers used those stores to try new products, but with the exception of the gaming products, very few new customers were likely acquired. In addition, many of the consumers who would purchase at Microsoft stores would likely have purchased at a retailer such as Best Buy instead, if the Microsoft stores were not available. I think the expensive partner retail distribution of Microsoft really does mean that the company doesn't need to run their own stores in order to get impact. What you get with stores is headaches -- staffing, rent, traffic -- all the factors that have become such a headache during the start of the COVID-19 era.
  • Posted on: 06/02/2020

    Do retailers need to go beyond ‘reopening playbooks’?

    Consumers will not forget the impact of the pandemic at any time real soon. It is critical for retailers to make sure that they are addressing consumer safety issues in a consistent, verifiable and transparent manner. In order for the stores to assure compliance of procedures, both systems and values must be addressed. The real reason for all these procedures is to keep your customers safe from harm. The only way to ensure adherence to the procedures is to instill that value clearly in the store associate level; otherwise, the associates will find ways to short change the procedures over time.
  • Posted on: 06/01/2020

    Retail ensnared in nationwide protests

    What an amazing opportunity for true leadership to emerge. However, leadership is not making flowery speeches about commitment to racial justice -- it is the methodical, consistent application of values and principles to a prevailing problem. Commitment to addressing racial inequalities will require sustained planning and actions. That type of behavior is how we will know that a retailer is committed. Typical actions can include addressing racial inequality in promotion to store manager, for example. Addressing the firing of part-time workers when their children are sick or their public transportation breaks down. Retail plays a big role in sustaining gaps in income and racial inequality through policies like that. There is plenty of work to be done. I believe we can do it!

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