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: 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!
  • Posted on: 05/08/2020

    How should indie retailers prepare to reopen under the now normal?

    The focus for independent retailers has always been to differentiate themselves based on relationships with and knowledge of their customers. In this time, it is critical that the smaller retailers work hard to continue to reinforce the relationship that they have with their customers and what makes them different from big box and e-commerce retailers. Authenticity, flexibility and care for their customers needs to be present in every aspect of customer interaction. In this way independent retailers can not only survive this crisis, but emerge even stronger.
  • Posted on: 04/07/2020

    Will Chewy build on its current sales momentum once the COVID-19 threat has passed?

    Online penetration for pet food will definitely accelerate, as has delivery for groceries. The challenges that Chewy faces are primarily logistical. Customers can wait a bit more for their pet food, but not too much more. If the delays go on for too long, customers will find other alternative sources. If Chewy can address this issue and keep the delays within a "reasonable" timeframe, they are in very good stead for the short and the long haul.
  • Posted on: 04/06/2020

    Is Amazon facing a crossroads with the coronavirus pandemic?

    The pandemic is mostly a "make" time for Amazon, rather than a "break" one. As a single source provider across a wide range of critical products, Amazon is more and more the fallback that consumers trust. The challenge is in supply chain, particularly the "first mile" rather than the last one. Obtaining inventory and then turning it at rates much more rapid than ever forecast will strain Amazon's logistics to the max. Given the challenges that other retailers are facing, I think Amazon comes out of this super strong.
  • Posted on: 03/11/2020

    Are online sales metrics irrelevant for brick and click retailers?

    Given the massive investment in e-commerce infrastructure and support, not reporting the financial impact seems odd. Using advanced analytics, it is possible now to attribute revenue to the site as part of a multichannel customer journey. I believe that companies are not sharing the information to avoid giving out competitive information, and also because the investment in e-commerce may have a poor 1-yr ROI, even though the long-term payout would be hugely positive.
  • Posted on: 03/10/2020

    Will rival retailers buy Amazon’s ‘Just Walk Out’ technology?

    There is no question that "Just Walk Out" technology will become common at retail. But the barriers to this technology, which are similar to the reasons that POS systems have remain antiquated, are about cost, implementation and lost productivity during the transition. Since Amazon started this effort from scratch, I am sure that the lack of a true measure of incrementality also slows down this effort. But when the first major player successfully implements, then I imagine the dike will break.
  • Posted on: 03/09/2020

    Burlington Stores walks away from e-commerce

    While it is easy to say that the off-price category is not a good fit for e-commerce, it appears that the Burlington website lacks a number of best practice-based features that T.J.Maxx has implemented, such as publicizing key issues, promoting product scarcity (while supplies last), etc. T.J.Maxx's success may reflect a stronger brand name, but I am not sure that brand strength is the issue. Improved execution might solve a host of Burlington's issues.
  • Posted on: 02/11/2020

    Will Staples’ new concept Connect with small business owners?

    As I take a look at Staples Connect, I really don't see any competitive differentiation from the broad range of colocation facilities available. The podcast and recording support strikes me as something that is a bit unique, but not enough to make a difference. The biggest factors with colocation are convenience, quality of facilities and the range of other businesses that are working in that location. I am not sure that Staples Connect can scale fast enough to gain momentum, and the company must be very careful about locations in order to not select overcrowded areas. All in all, this effort appears fraught with potential pitfalls.
  • Posted on: 02/10/2020

    Why isn’t voice commerce taking off?

    The slow adoption of smart speakers for purchasing is consistent with patterns of technology adoption historically. Usually what you see is that early adopters start to use the technology first, because they enjoy using new technology and are willing to put up with early-stage problems. The next group of customers, often called early majority, are waiting for the early adopters to signal that the new technology is ready for prime time. That has not yet happened. As additional capabilities get rolled into the main smart speaker apps, you should expect more widespread adoption. Issues of private privacy will always be a concern, but over time consumers become more comfortable with technology and their privacy concerns diminish.
  • Posted on: 01/14/2020

    Will ‘guests’ love Target even more as Circle members?

    Target seems to understand that loyalty cannot be bought with points. The combination of personalization, social savings and content is what loyalty programs were intended to be -- not just another way to buy an incremental transaction but a way to create and maintain a relationship.
  • Posted on: 01/13/2020

    Walmart U.S. CEO: Good retail jobs are much more than good pay

    Store associate retention has always been critical. Now, in the age of extensive e-commerce competition, the single biggest differentiator that a retail store has is the quality of the customer experience. All the research has shown that store and department managers are some of the greatest factors impacting customer retention and store profitability. By prioritizing store and department managers with salary and training and support and technology, Walmart has placed them selves in a great position to continue to drive growth in revenue and profit ability at retail locations.

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