Mark Ryski

Founder, CEO & Author, HeadCount Corporation
Mark Ryski is the author of two books on retail analytics, Conversion: The Last Great Retail Metric and When Retail Customers Count – books that are widely considered the definitive reference guides for the retail industry. He is also the Founder and CEO of HeadCount Corporation – the leading authority on retail traffic and conversion analysis. Founded in 1994, today Mark and his dedicated team work with retailers across virtually all categories and sizes from independents to large chains.
  • Posted on: 10/20/2020

    Will virtual recruiting and onboarding hurt seasonal hiring?

    While there is no substitute for an in-person meeting, I doubt that the quality of seasonal retail staff will be dramatically impacted by virtual hiring/onboarding. Let’s face it, doing things virtually is becoming a way of life, and employers are going to have to find ways to make it work. Ultimately, I believe in-person interviews and onboarding will return to normal, but like so many other things that have been permanently impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, I suspect that some elements of virtual hiring will remain.
  • Posted on: 10/19/2020

    Retailers need to prep for in-store COVID conflicts

    The situation can be difficult, awkward and even dangerous when people get belligerent. Approaching the situation with empathy is the best approach. Try to understand the customer’s situation and de-escalate as best you can. If the customer is unreasonable, enforce your store’s policies including removal from the store. There are no easy answers for dealing with emotional issues and irrational people. All store staff can do is their best.
  • Posted on: 10/16/2020

    Amazon follows record-setting Prime Day with Holiday Dash Deal events

    Good points Jeff. It's also worth noting that even if online sales increase to offset some of the sales lost in-store, the profitability of online sales is significantly lower. So even a flat comp (which many retailers would take right now in a heartbeat), will look much worse on the bottom line.
  • Posted on: 10/16/2020

    Amazon follows record-setting Prime Day with Holiday Dash Deal events

    Prime Day and the aggressive, early holiday promotions in general, will pull holiday sales forward and spread out the activity over a longer period of time. Given the economic headwinds, I doubt that the sales pie has gotten any larger, so I don’t see the early promotional activity driving a lot of incremental sales when the final numbers are tallied at the end of the season. The impact of COVID-19 is still being felt, and a resurgence will further dampen sentiment and sales.
  • Posted on: 10/15/2020

    Macy’s is turning stores dark for the holidays

    I was referring to Macy's use of dark stores for distribution as being problematic as an ongoing strategy. In the short term, I think it's absolutely the right thing for Macy's to do -- what else can they do? I appreciate that Macy's is making the best of their difficult circumstances, but using high priced mall real estate for dark store distribution is not economically viable in the long term.
  • Posted on: 10/15/2020

    Macy’s is turning stores dark for the holidays

    Many retailers are in survival mode and so this is a reasonable approach under this circumstance. However it’s a short-term survival tactic only. Macy’s decision to convert stores into dark locations is just that, a short term tactic to try to serve customers through what will be a brutal holiday season for Macy’s. Using high priced mall real estate for dark store distribution is a losing proposition.
  • Posted on: 10/14/2020

    Bed Bath & Beyond CEO’s turnaround plan may just work

    I am becoming a fan of Bed Bath & Beyond and the decisive, meaningful steps Tritton and his team are making. Unlike other turnarounds where the moves were incremental and modest, it’s clear that Tritton isn’t afraid of making substantial changes. I like where Bed, Bath & Beyond is heading and I encourage Tritton to keep his foot firmly on the gas pedal. There’s still much more to do.
  • Posted on: 10/13/2020

    Has Walmart come up with an answer to Best Buy’s Geek Squad?

    Walmart has realized that there is big money in services and they’re going after it in the typical Walmart way – low price. In the short-term Walmart’s lower cost service will likely not cause a significant impact with competitors since it will take time for the service to gain traction in the market. However I do think this will gain traction quickly with Walmart shoppers who want low prices, and the extra service of getting their devices installed and setup. I believe that this will eventually be a big win for Walmart.
  • Posted on: 10/12/2020

    Staples to accept returns from other stores

    I agree Jeff. It all makes perfect sense, until you start to consider the real cost/benefit of acting as a returns depot for others. Not only is there a cost of processing the returns, but what about the lost opportunity cost of not serving actual Staples customers because staff are preoccupied with returns processing? No doubt this effort will increase store traffic, but more traffic has only nominal value unless it can be converted into a sale.
  • Posted on: 10/09/2020

    Will Dollar General win over higher-income consumers with its new store concept?

    Given the current levels of unemployment and general economic uncertainty, consumers will be looking for lower cost alternatives, and this new concept will be an ideal fit for many. Dollar General and the low-cost category collectively have done very well during the pandemic, and I think this is a smart strategic move on the part of Dollar General to expand their base to more upscale customers. From real estate to inventory, it will be a buyer’s market for any strong retailer, and Dollar General is one of them.
  • Posted on: 10/08/2020

    Will downsizing (food packs) bring a merry Christmas to Sam’s Club?

    This is a simple and smart response to market conditions. It’s clear that group sizes are smaller due to COVID-19, and adjusting food pack sizes to accommodate this only make sense. Going forward I expect Sam’s Club to continue to listen to customers and make adjustments that meet new needs. And while these product tactics are sensible, I doubt that it will have any significant impact in attracting new members.
  • Posted on: 10/07/2020

    Apple removes other brand audio products from its store shelves

    Apple is free to select whatever products it wishes to feature in its stores, and making room for their own devices is perfectly reasonable. Unlike Amazon which promotes a third-party marketplace, but then uses the insights to create competitive offerings, Apple is merely focusing on Apple. Apple has made thoughtful product line extensions over the years and I believe that they have a good idea of where they want to go – for Apple it’s not a race to be all to everyone so they don’t have the same pressure to continue to expand the same way the others do.
  • Posted on: 10/06/2020

    Will Levi’s Secondhand store give the brand a sustainable advantage?

    Used clothing is truly a mega-trend and so any brand offering a second hand option may find some success -- especially relative to competitors that do not. Levi’s Secondhand seems like it will gain traction for many of the good reasons noted. But while I appreciate Levi’s approach, the question is, how much success will Levi’s find here? It seems to me that the secondhand market works particularly well for premium goods, but I wonder how well Levi’s will do.
  • Posted on: 10/05/2020

    Neiman Marcus begins its new life outside of bankruptcy

    The Neiman Marcus brand has long lost its magic and luster. The financial challenges over the years and now the many negative impacts from COVID-19 mean that the future looks bleak for Neiman Marcus. Management is survival mode, and while I respect that they are trying to save their business, the general strategy that they are offering sounds a lot like what they were focused on before bankruptcy.
  • Posted on: 10/02/2020

    Did Amazon just end criticisms about its COVID-19 safety record?

    The number of cases reported is shocking. I recall when there were reports of Amazon employees contracting the virus and the ensuing issues and challenges with their employees safety, but I was utterly shocked to hear that their cases are now in excess of 19,000. As startling as these numbers are, I think Amazon is right to publish this data and encourage others to do the same. The fact that their infection rate is significantly below the general population is encouraging, but it’s clear that COVID-19 continues to present a serious health risk to frontline employees and society at large.

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