PROFILE

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.

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  • Posted on: 11/23/2022

    Black Friday is back as record number of Americans are expected to go shopping

    I am not surprised that so many people plan to shop over the Thanksgiving weekend. Employment is high, and inflation challenges will simply lead consumers to work harder to find good deals for their gifts going forward. I believe the number of transactions will grow, but I am of mixed thoughts in terms of revenue, with the growth factor of inflation, battling the increased discounting at the same time. Offhand, I would expect a performance level consistent with pre-pandemic times.
  • Posted on: 10/21/2022

    Will Target own the Christmas season as it moves past its inventory glut?

    The biggest drivers of Target's continuing shopper traffic gains are consumer focus on value amidst concern about recession, and the high inventory levels that Target has maintained throughout the summer. While Target was successfully able to address excess inventory in the summer, the greatest challenges facing the organization in the holiday season will be about staff. Being able to obtain staff and retain staff in this high employment environment, without significantly increasing wages, will be a delicate balancing act that Target must walk in order to come out of the holiday season in good shape.
  • Posted on: 10/20/2022

    Christmas 2022’s inventory looks a lot like 2021

    While inventory from last year is truly a year old, much of the inventory is either standard or novelty items that are unlikely to suffer the effects of aging. In addition, retailers will be more likely to discount partially depreciated inventory sooner in the holiday season this year than in previous years. As a result, I anticipate a strong holiday season in terms of transaction volume, but likely a reduction in revenue dollars due to more aggressive discounting.
  • Posted on: 08/25/2022

    Is Barnes & Noble’s updated buying policy good or bad for book discovery?

    B&N is not a social enterprise. Their job is to improve performance by better serving their customers. Note that this change is hardcover only. If B&N is returning 80 percent of their stock of certain types of titles, that is a strong indicator that those titles lack the demand to be stocked in-store in hardcover. They can still be purchased online or digitally. If the bookseller can replace those titles with new works from new authors, then the approach would seem to meet both the needs of the company and readers. Given how precarious the business environment is for booksellers, this approach seems measured and well thought out.
  • Posted on: 08/24/2022

    Is the time right for table-side credit card tech to go mainstream in America?

    The combination of increased table turns, improved customer data tracking and addressing staff shortage issues seem to make tableside credit card authorization a no-brainer. The only challenge would be the cost of implementation and the ability to measure a payout. I would think that the payout from being able to market to customers for repeat visits would justify the entire expense in and of itself.
  • Posted on: 08/23/2022

    Sales and marketing pros want more from their CRM systems

    As the article above mentioned, the issues with CRM systems today can be classified into two categories: integration and excessive sales person requirements to be successful. The integration issues are common among many different types of software today. There are so many systems providing information that is critical to customer success. The requirements on IT to integrate the data from these disparate systems can be overwhelming. The result is that sales is forced to use multiple systems to manage their customers. Using multiple systems often frustrates sales and leads to lack of adherence. The other piece that often dooms CRM projects is excessive demands for input and reporting by senior management. This is a classic case of management asking for everything because they can, when actually what is needed is for the sales people to be spending most of their time managing their customers and identifying prospects.
  • 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.

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